Sports

Eagle softball thumps CVU in season-opening victory

SMILING EAGLE SENIOR Sarah Heath accepts congratulations from Mount Abe Softball Coach Don McCormick as she rounds third base after launching a three-run homer on Tuesday. Independent photo/Steve James

BRISTOL — Mount Abraham Union High School softball Coach Donnie McCormick phrased it diplomatically after his team’s 27-5, five-inning victory over Champlain Valley in Tuesday’s Eagle opening game.

Three Redhawk pitchers had just combined to issue 15 walks, toss six wild pitches, and hit nine batters (Eagle senior catcher Jo Toy took three for the team), all in four innings.

The Eagles managed nine hits when they had pitches to swing at in their four innings at the plate, including homers by senior Sarah Heath and sophomore Morgan Larocque.

EAGLE SENIOR SARAH Heath lines a homer over the left-field fence during the Mount Abe softball team’s 18-run second inning on Tuesday.
Independent photo/Steve James

McCormick’s take on the game?

“I was happy with our discipline at the plate. We weren’t swinging at high pitches,” he said.

McCormick is also confident that with more to swing at, more Eagle hits will come.

“We’re going to hit. I know we’re going to hit,” he said. “It’s going to be fun to see.”

SOPHOMORE PITCHER GRETCHEN Toy earned the pitching win for the Eagle softball team against visiting Champlain Valley on Tuesday, allowing no earned runs in three innings.
Independent photo/Steve James

CVU actually took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Baylee Yandow led off with a bunt single and made it to second on an uncharacteristic throwing error by junior third baseman Abba Parker. Yandow reached third on a ground out and scored when Amber Reagan’s grounder back to pitcher Gretchen Toy popped out of her glove, and she momentarily couldn’t find the ball. The threat ended with Jo Toy catching Reagan stealing.

Gretchen Toy allowed only two more hits and one walk in her three-inning stint. Sophomore shortstop Gen Forand helped her work out of a two-on, one-out jam in the third. She fielded a grounder cleanly and threw out the batter despite being run into by the batter, who was called out for interference as the double play ended the threat.

The Eagles tied the game in the bottom of the first when Parker, who had walked and moved to third on another walk and a wild pitch, then bolted home on another wild pitch.

MOUNT ABE THIRD baseman Abba Parker makes a lunging fifth-inning grab of a CVU line drive during the Eagle softball team’s big win on Tuesday.
Independent photo/Steve James

Then the Redhawks’ wheels came off in the second inning. Eagle sophomore outfielder Brooklyn Ryersbach, senior outfielder Madelyn Hayden and junior first baseman Elise Parker singled during the 18-run rally, Larocque lined a two-run homer to left, and Heath lofted a three-run blow over the center-field fence.

Meanwhile in that inning, two Redhawk pitchers combined to walk Mount Abe batters nine times, hit them three times and toss three wild pitches as 24 Eagles paraded to the plate.

Mount Abe added eight more in the third inning off the third CVU hurler, who hit the first three batters she faced, four in all, and walked four. Amid the freebies, Hayden, Jo Toy and Elise Parker stroked RBI singles. Miraculously, the Eagles went down in order in their fourth and final at-bat.

SOPHOMORE SHORTSTOP GEN Forand completes the tag play on an attempted CVU steal after taking Eagle senior catcher Jo Toy’s throw during their team’s home win on Tuesday.
Independent photo/Steve James

The Redhawks scored three in the fourth off Eagle freshman reliever Reagan Lafreniere, who threw hard but had trouble locating. She walked two and hit a batter, and a two-out error allowed the third run to score. Abba Parker’s leaping grab of a line drive ended the threat. CVU added another run in the fifth on a walk, a stolen base and two wild pitches, but Lafreniere bore down to end the game on a strikeout, a grounder to Forand and another liner to Abba Parker.

Hayden, Larocque, both Parkers, courtesy runner Leah Tierney, and Heath all scored three runs. Heath led with four RBIs, Larocque drove in three, and Hayden and Jo Toy drove in two runs apiece.

Tougher competition awaits, including a home game vs. North Country on Thursday and a trip to Missisquoi on Saturday.

But McCormick is confident in the Eagles’ defense and in the team’s sophomore pitcher as well as the offense. He said if the Eagles keep focusing on improving they will succeed this spring.

“Just keep working together,” he said. “It’s just reps. We’ve got a good team.”

EAGLE SOPHOMORE MORGAN Larocque celebrates her home run on Tuesday by hopping on home plate just before her Mount Abe teammates mob her.
Independent photo/Steve James

 

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