Brattleboro has had a long run of softball success, but the well may be running dry.
Colonels coach Kelly Markol said fewer girls are going out for softball, opting instead for lacrosse and other spring sports. As a result, she will be coaching a softball team that is young and very inexperienced compared to the Brattleboro teams that won championships in 2010, 2011, and 2013.
Those growing pains, along with some hopeful signs for the future, were on display in the Colonels’ home opener on April 13 at Sawyer Field. While the Colonels dropped a narrow 9-8 decision to Fair Haven, they did not give up after twice falling behind to the Slaters.
“We’ve got lot of freshmen and sophomores without varsity experience,” said Markol. “They’ve got a lot to learn, but they didn’t give up today, and I’m proud of them for that.”
Fair Haven jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning on a three-run homer to right field by Liz Murrattori off Brattleboro pitcher Hannah Wilson.
The Slaters added three more runs in the third on an RBI double by Murratori, and an error on a ball hit by Lauren Langlois that resulted in two more runs coming in.
Brattleboro started chipping away at the Slaters’ lead in the bottom of the third when Samantha Harrison drove in a run with a single. They got three more runs in the fourth on a two-run double by Jamie Mahoney and an RBI single by Devin Millerick. Wilson helped her cause with an RBI single in the fifth to cut Fair Haven’s lead down to 6-5.
Fair Haven got three more runs in the sixth on an RBI double by Abby Ferrara and a two-run single by Murratori. The Slaters could have score more runs, but Brattleboro first baseman Emily Waite ended the inning with an unassisted double play.
Trailing 9-5, the Colonels rallied again in the bottom half of the inning, thanks to three errors by the Slaters and a sacrifice fly by Harrison to make it 9-8. Unfortunately, that was as close as the Colonels would get.
Brattleboro bounced back with a 10-5 win over Otter Valley on April 16 at Sawyer Field. Waite went 3-for-3 with an RBI, Maddy Derosia added a pair of doubles, and Millerick, Mahoney, Sierra Butler, Jocelyn Aither and Sam Harrison each had a hit.
Wilson wasn’t overpowering, but managed to get her first win of the season with eight strikeouts. She gave up five hits, walked three, and hit two batters.
The Colonels finished the week with an 8-5 loss to St. Johnsbury at Sawyer Field last Saturday. The Hilltoppers used four hits and nine walks to defeat Brattleboro. Hannah Westcott had a pair of hits and drove in four runs for St. Johnsbury.
Pitcher Taylor Belknap held the Colonels to five hits to get the win. Mahoney went 2-for-4 to lead the Colonels, who are now 1-2.
• Leland & Gray started off the season with a pair of losses.
The Rebels got shut out by Springfield, 8-0, in the road opener on April 16 at Riverside Park. The Cosmos got six unearned runs in the first inning and the Rebels never recovered. Emily Thibeault had a pair of hits for the Rebels.
In Townshend last Saturday, the Rebels lost their home opener, 17-8, to Fair Haven. The Slaters scored three runs in the first inning, but Leland & Gray tied the game up in the bottom half of the inning on an RBI single by Jordan Gouger and an infield hit by Thibeault that got misplayed and allowed two more runs to score.
From that point, the Rebels stopped hitting. Losing pitcher Keltsey Rushton kept the Slaters’ bats quiet until the fourth inning, when Hunter Buxton hit an RBI double and Abby Ferrara hit a three-run triple. Ferrara scored on a fielders choice to give Fair Haven an 8-3 lead.
The Slaters added five more runs in the fifth, two more in the fifth, and another two in the seventh to give plenty of run support for winning pitcher Olivia Bowen.
The Rebels salvaged a little pride by getting five runs in the seventh. Gabby Donna hit a two-run double, while a fly ball hit by Rachel Borgensen was misplayed and scored two more runs. Borgenson also scored on a double steal.
Rebels coach Tammy Claussen also has a young and inexperienced team that will have to learn on the job. “We faced a lot of different situations today that we weren’t ready for,” she said. “Against a good Division II team like Fair Haven, we have to play our best game.”
• Bellows Falls won their season opener over Twin Valley with a 8-4 victory on April 16. Winning pitcher Murphy Hicks struck out five and walked one as Chelsea Wilder hit a two-run triple and Emily Stoddard had two hits and scored three runs to lead the Terriers. Losing pitcher Colton Butler tried to get the Wildcats back into the game with a two-run homer in the seventh.
• Twin Valley lost its first game, 15-0, at Springfield on April 14.
• Leland & Gray opened the season last Saturday in Townshend with a doubleheader split with Green Mountain. The Rebels lost the first game, 5-2, and came back strong to win the second game. 16-1, in a six-inning game cut short by the 15-run mercy rule.
In game one, the Chieftains broke open a scoreless tie in the fourth inning when John Little walked, stole second, moved to third on a ground out, and scored on a passed ball. Kyle Kemp hit an RBI double to make 2-0 in the fifth, and GM added two more runs in the sixth on an RBI single by Brian Hennel and a bases-loaded walk to Joe Epier.
The Rebels got back a run on a sacrifice fly by Nick Morrow in the sixth, but Hennel drove in another run with a groundout in the seventh. Leland & Gray got its last run on a sacrifice fly by Bryce Karg.
Josh Donna took the loss for the Rebels, with seven strikeouts and eight walks in six innings of work. Josh Woods pitched a complete game three-hitter to win it for the Chieftains.
The slumbering bats of the Rebels woke up in the second game, as they tattooed losing pitcher Jon Little for eight runs in the first inning. John Peloso drove in a run with a single, and Donna followed with a two-run single. Morrow then hit an RBI single, Max Cramp got a two-run single, Cory Nystrom got another across with a base hit, and Peloso got his second RBI single on his second at-bat of the inning. In all, the Rebels sent 13 batters to the plate.
Staked to a big lead early, Cramp pitched through an easy outing to get the win for the Rebels.
• Brattleboro’s first three games of the season have been a real roller coaster. After dropping a 4-3 road decision to Drury on April 14, the Colonels lost to Mill River, 11-2, in the home opener on April 15 at Tenney Field.
Mill River’s Lincoln Pritchard started the scoring with a two-run double in the first inning. Stephen Kerylow then hit a two-run single in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game at 2-2.
After that, it was all Minutemen. They batted around in the second inning and scored three runs, added another run on a throwing error in the third, got two more in the fifth and three more in the sixth. Pritchard hit a two-run single in that inning to finish a 4-for-4 day with five RBIs.
Sam Ongoneff and Leif Bigelow split the pitching duties in the loss for the Colonels, who bounced back last Saturday with an 8-1 win over St. Johnsbury at Tenney Field.
• Bellows Falls split their first two games on the road, beating up Otter Valley, 15-2, on April 14, and losing a close 6-5 game at Burr & Burton last Saturday.
• The Brattleboro girls are off to a rough start under first year coach Barb Vinci. In their opener on April 11 in East Longmeadow, Mass., the Colonels lost, 18-8. Cassidy Stebbins scored three goals in the loss, while Anna Gagnon-Burch and Abbie Lesure scored two goals each and Breanna Sheehan also scored.
In the home opener on April 15 at Natowich Field, the Colonels kept it close, but ultimately lost to Mount Anthony, 10-7. Brattleboro had no answer for MAU’s sophomore attacker Emily Altland, who scored five goals, including her first goal just 10 seconds into the game.
The game was close thanks to great goalkeeping by Brattleboro’s Brianna Ogden, who made seven difficult saves to keep the Colonels in it.
Kira McCloskey had three goals for the 0-2 Colonels, while Stebbins, Gagnon-Burch, Lesure, and Oliva Stent also scored.
• The Brattleboro boys got off to a fast start by obliterating Otter Valley, 21-0, in their first Marble Valley League game on April 14 at Natowich Field.
The Colonels scored 12 goals in the first 12 minutes of the game, and cruised from there. Goalies Kolton Ravenna and Ian Cebek combined on the shutout.
Tanner Freeman led the Colonels with seven goals and four assists, followed by Brennen Zolnoski (five goals, one assist), Jack Gagnon (five goals, two assists) and Robyn Avery (a goal and five assists).
Also chipping in with goals were Leon Ogden, Liam Perra, Owen Schneider, and Matt Gaboriault. Evan Perkins and Zeb Lesure added two assists each.
After beating Rutland in a 20-15 shootout on April 16, the Colonels finished opening week at 3-0 with a 15-5 win at East Longmeadow, Mass., last Saturday.
Schneider broke open a scoreless tie with two goals late in the first quarter to give the Colonels a lead that they would never relinquish. Brattleboro led 8-0 at the half, and 13-3 after three quarters.
Zolnoski (six goals, one assist) and Gagnon (four goals, two assists) led the scoring for the Colonels. Perkins had a pair of goals and assists, and Avery had a goal and two assists. Freeman assisted on six goals and Zeb Lesure added an assist.
Ravenna started the game in goal and finished with seven saves, while Cebek made two stops in the fourth quarter in relief duty.