Sports

Spring Sports Report: OV squads will rely on new faces

OTTER SIERRA CORMANY is safe on a close play stealing second base during a softball game at Mount Abraham last April. The host Eagles prevailed. Photo courtesy of Mark Bouvier

BRANDON — Two spring sports programs at Otter Valley have each won a Division II title and reached another final since 2014, those being baseball and softball. Those teams have also more often than not picked up at least one postseason victory during the other years. The third, boys’ lacrosse, has had a few bright spots since it was established, including three playoff victories, but has yet to break through for sustained success.

What to expect this season?

OTTER VALLEY BASEBALL 2024

BASEBALL

OV athletic director Steve Keith noted the Otter baseball team graduated 10 seniors from the group that hosted and won a Division II playoff game a year ago.

But there are some quality returners, Keith said, including seniors Brayden Chandler, Luciano Falco and Isaiah Wood, while adding that Coach Mike Howe has established a winning culture.

“I think the guys coming are very determined to maintain that same level of expectations,” Keith said, including newcomers who had good seasons on the JV team in 2023. “They’re excited. They’re working really hard, and Mike’s been really pleased with the level of effort.”

Wood and sophomore Jackson Howe will head the pitching rotation, and Keith said junior Nolan Tripp and sophomore Jacob Warrell will be among “some other guys who are going to contribute” on the mound.

Falco will start behind the plate, and Warrell can also catch and help elsewhere on the diamond. Keith said Howe is carrying just 12 players, most of whom are capable of playing multiple positions and all of whom will play. But with the team’s preseason scrimmages snowed out in the first week of April, it was difficult to predict a starting lineup.

“We have a good option for all those guys, and all of them are going to see time in different places,” Keith said. “I think the flexibility of them all playing different spots is going to be helpful.”

It is possible Tripp could play shortstop, while Warrell and sophomore Dominyk Waite could see time at second base, Keith said, and there are “four or five guys in the outfield that are all going to get opportunities.”

The Otters have hosted and won first-round playoff games in two of the past three years.

“It’s always a goal to get yourself a home playoff game and put yourself in the mix,” Keith said. “They’re going to compete and be in the mix for everything. They’re always well prepared.”

OTTER VALLEY SOFTBALL 2024

SOFTBALL 

Meanwhile, the OV softball team has won at least one playoff game for six straight seasons with Coach Kelly Trayah at the helm after Pattie Candon’s retirement.

Like baseball, however, there were losses to graduation, and this year’s team features only two seniors, Sierra Cormany, probably the team’s No. 1 pitcher and also a shortstop, and MyKenzie Thibault, a versatile player likely to also see time on the mound.

“We have a young roster,” Keith said. “We have some sophomores, some freshmen who are all going to play roles, some juniors and the seniors. So we’re really mixed across the board.”

A strong point could be the mound corps.

“We have a lot of pitching,” Keith said, with sophomore Leann Thomas and freshman Sophia Parker rounding out a deep rotation. 

Junior Kaylee Maloy and sophomore Noelle Seigle will handle the catching chores, and they could also DH.

Elsewhere, Keith said there will be new faces around the infield and in the outfield, and like baseball there are different lineup possibilities for Trayah to work out because of his athletes’ versatility. 

“He’s really excited about that group. They have a lot of softball abilities, a lot of athletes across the field,” Keith said.  

Junior Lauren Palmer, sophomore Hannah Desabrais and freshman Adyson Humiston, plus Cormany and Parker when not on the mound, are infield candidates. Thibault, juniors Randi Lancour and Charlotte Newton, and sophomores Michaele Hobbs and Thomas could patrol the outfield grass.

Overall, Keith foresees the outlook as positive and Otter softball to be competitive once again. 

“I think they all hit the ball pretty well,” he said. “Kelly’s been pretty excited about the possibility of getting speed on the basepaths, and also putting the ball in play.”

OTTER VALLEY BOYS’ LACROSSE 2024

BOYS’ LACROSSE

The OV boys’ lax program has a new coach, Emerson Doty, an OV English educator who Keith said played for a strong high school program. Keith added Doty’s classroom skills appear to be translating to teaching the sport.

“He’s done a really nice job so far. Practices have been really well run,” Keith said.

Critically, the program is picking up some numbers, including nine sophomores who can help grow the program over the next few years joining three juniors and six seniors.

“We’re in the 16-to-18 range, which is a healthy number for us,” Keith said. 

The Otters only won a game or two a year ago, but learned as they went along, he said.

“Obviously there were lopsided scores, but a lot of kids got good playing experience,” he said.

There are also valuable players returning, including senior defenders Simon Martin, Aiden Wade and Matt Cole, and senior midfielder Chase Cram, coming off outstanding football and wrestling seasons. 

“He’s going to score some goals for us,” Keith said of Cram. 

Senior goalie Damon Wood returns for his second year between the pipes. “That’s a real positive,” Keith said. 

Juniors who should make an impact include midfielders Gavyn Towle and Jackson Marks, he said.

Several sophomores should be ready to emerge, he added, including T.J. Baron, Braydon Meza and Benjamin McGuigan.

The sophomores have already helped, in fact.

“A lot of those guys in that sophomore group, they convinced their friends to come out,” Keith said. “And they really enjoyed it. I think that’s really key to our growth (in lacrosse) at school, convincing some of your friends to come out and give it a shot.”

As for an outlook, Keith said growing the sport and honing skills are important goals, but winning a couple games would be fun. 

“There are games the guys are certainly looking at in the schedule and saying, ‘We can compete,” he said. 

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