Pitching shortage bites softball teams
Hooper Golf Course in Walpole, N.H., built in 1927, has been restored to its former glory and reopened for public use with the help of the Monadnock Conservancy.

Pitching shortage bites softball teams

Fast-pitch softball may be a team sport, but if you want to have a successful team, you need to have a good pitcher.

Brattleboro has two good pitchers in Hailey Derosia and her understudy, ninth-grader Leah Madore. They are doing well this season with an 8-2 record.

Bellows Falls and Twin Valley are both struggling because they have young and inexperienced pitchers. They are both are 1-8.

BF's only win this season was a 23-22 victory over Twin Valley. Take out that game, and they've been outscored 222-23 in their eight losses.

Twin Valley is in even worse shape, having had to forfeit their May 11 game against Proctor because they didn't have enough healthy players. Their only win was a 23-5 victory over Arlington, and their pitchers have given up a total of 160 runs this season.

And then there's Leland & Gray, a perennial power in Division III. Their most recent trips to the finals came in 2013, 2015, and 2017.

Rebels coach Tammy Clausen said Leah Madore was being groomed to be her pitcher for the next four seasons, but she chose to attend Brattleboro Union High School. That left Clausen having to start from scratch.

“It takes a long time to develop a good softball pitcher,” she said. “You have to put in the work year-round. Leah is a hard worker and she's going to be a really good pitcher, just not for our team.”

So Sarah Andersen and Abby Lowe shoulder the pitching duties for the Rebels, who are getting just enough hitting and defense to keep them in the playoff mix with a 4-5 record.

The Rebels' 29-17 win over Twin Valley on May 9 in Townshend was a good indication of where the teams are at.

In the first inning, Andersen set the Wildcats down in order with a pair of strikeouts. The Rebels then scored nine runs in the bottom half of the inning off Wildcats pitcher Hannah Sullivan, thanks to six errors, a walk, a wild pitch, and a two-run single by Lowe.

Twin Valley got four of those runs back in the second inning on four walks, two hit-by-pitches, a wild pitch, and a RBI single by Jayden Crawford. It took a nifty double-play by shortstop Ansley Henderson to keep the Wildcats from scoring even more runs.

The Rebels scored seven runs in their half of the inning. The big blow was a two-run triple by Sydney Hescock. Lowe and Henderson both added RBI singles.

Five more walks in the third led to three more runs for the Wildcats to cut the lead to 16-7. By the top of the fifth, the Rebels had a 19-9 lead and Lowe took over for Andersen in the pitching circle. Twin Valley then scored six runs on three walks, four singles and a wild pitch, and suddenly the Rebels lead was down to 19-15.

Leland & Gray got the breathing room it needed with five runs in their half of the fifth as Erin Cutts hit a three-run homer and Izzy Ameden and Allison Stockwell both scored on wild pitches. They added five more runs in the sixth, which featured RBI singles by Cutts and Ameden.

It wasn't pretty, but for Clausen, it was a win and she'll take it. “We're going to struggle, unless we hit the ball,” she said.


• Hailey Derosia was the star in Brattleboro's 14-1 rout of Rutland at Sawyer Field on May 6. She was the winning pitcher, striking out 10 batters and giving up just one hit over five innings. At the plate, she hit a triple and a home run.

The Colonels had a tougher test against Keene, N.H., on May 9, and lost, 7-6. Derosia held the Blackbirds to five hits, but defensive mistakes opened the door for Keene to steal a win. Mya McAuliffe had a pair of hits to lead the Brattleboro offense.

• Fair Haven pounded visiting Bellows Falls, 34-7, in five innings on May 6. Slaters pitcher Cass Lanfear held the Terriers to just four hits in getting the win. Leadoff hitter Katrina Bean led the Slaters' hit parade with a triple and three singles to drive in seven runs.


• Starting pitcher Adam Newton was the hard-luck loser as Rutland nipped Brattleboro, 2-1, at Tenney Field on May 6. Newton struck out 11 and walked three in throwing a six-hitter, but gave up two unearned runs - one in the second inning and another in the fifth.

Rutland's Ben Simpson held the Colonels to just five hits to get the win. The only Colonel run came in the seventh inning on a Brenden Gilbeau RBI signal.

The slump continued for the Colonels with a 4-2 loss to Keene, N.H., on May 9 at Tenney Field. Losing pitcher Adam Kendall gave up just two hits in the four innings he worked, but walked five batters and hit three others. Zinabu McNiece threw three innings of one-hit relief. The Colonels ended the week at 6-4.

• McGregor Vancor had a career day at the plate as visiting Bellows Falls beat up Windsor, 11-1, on May 6 in a five-inning game cut short by the 10-run rule.

Vancor went 3-for-4 and was a double shy of hitting for the cycle as he singled, tripled, and hit a home run to drive in eight runs. Winning pitcher Jack Brown struck out 11 and held the Jacks to just two hits.

BF then split their next two road games, a 9-2 loss to Burr & Burton on May 8 and an 11-1 win over Mill River on May 9. The Terriers are 5-7 with four wins in their last five games.

• Christian Thomsen was the winning pitcher as visiting Leland & Gray beat Poultney, 8-4, on May 6. The next day, the Rebels were smoked by Green Mountain, 11-1, to fall to 5-4 on the season.


• The Brattleboro boys lost to Burr & Burton, 15-3, on May 9 at Natowich Field. Ryan Tyler had two goals and Cam Studley had a goal and an assist for the 3-5-1 Colonels.

• The Brattleboro girls turned aside a rally by Woodstock and held on to beat the host Wasps, 9-8, on May 6. The following night, they beat Mount Anthony, 15-10, to improve their record to 6-3.

So long, MVL. Hello, SVL

• After nearly 90 years of existence in the southern Vermont interscholastic sports landscape, the Marble Valley League is going to have a name change, and will be expanding to 25 schools for the start of the 2019-20 school year.

In a unanimous vote at the most recent MVL meeting held May 1 at Green Mountain High School in Chester, the athletic directors of the league voted and approved to change the name to the Southern Vermont League starting this fall.

Joining the league for the 2019-20 season will be former Central Vermont League schools White River Valley, Sharon Academy, and Rivendell Academy.

“The Southern Vermont League is a more logistically correct name for our league,” present MVL Executive Director Tim Brown said in a news release. “With the addition of the three new schools, and the fact that there are only a few schools in the league from the 'Marble Valley,' the timing for a change seemed appropriate.”

According to notes from southern Vermont high school sports historian Frank Bioty, the MVL originally formed in 1930. Schools in the early years included Proctor, Ludlow, Brandon, Poultney, Wallingford, and Fair Haven.

The larger southern Vermont schools formed the Southern Vermont League in 1940 and, at one point, included as many as eight schools. But as enrollment numbers dropped in the 1970s and 1980s at schools such as Bellows Falls, Windsor, Springfield, and Hartford to force their exodus to the MVL, the decision for the few remaining SVL schools to join the MVL became a necessity by the early 1990s.

At the same time, the two southern Vermont girls' leagues - the Central Vermont Girls Athletic League (CVGAL) and the Molly Stark League joined the MVL as well to form one consolidated boys and girls league.

Today, all four of Windham County's high schools - Brattleboro, Bellows Falls, Twin Valley, and Leland & Gray - are MVL members.

With the addition of track and field this spring, and ultimate disc next spring, the MVL will be expanding to 16 combined boys' and girls' sports (soccer, field hockey, golf, basketball, wrestling, nordic skiing, baseball, softball, lacrosse, tennis, track & field, and ultimate).

Hooper Golf Course reopens

• On May 18 the public will get its first view of the fully-restored nine-hole Hooper Golf Course in Walpole, N.H.

Patrons will immediately notice the freshly painted buildings, the new logo and green flags, the refurbished pro shop; and at closer inspection, the new carts, the beams in the barn, and all the upgraded equipment. They'll also notice that Hooper is no longer a semi-private club. The course will now be open to the public.

What will be harder to see is the unusual confluence of volunteer energies, financial contributions, and conservation priorities that rescued the 140-acre property from possible commercial development.

For decades, the land on which the Hooper Golf Course is located was owned “in trust” by the town of Walpole, part of a 1926 gift of land and other assets that support the town's Hooper Institute programs of environmental education.

According to a news release, the golf course lease provided steady income to the trust for many years but, in the 1990s, the state Attorney General's office found the lease income to be an insufficiently profitable use of the property and began pressuring the town to sell the land.

In 2011, the Walpole Selectboard, acting as the Hooper trustees, formed a committee to study means of disposing of the property in a manner that would not lead to its development or the demise of the golf course.

Working with the Monadnock Conservancy, a Keene, N.H.-based conservation land trust, the committee developed a plan to liquidate the property in two stages: first, the sale of a conservation easement that would permanently prohibit further development of the property, and, second, the sale of the underlying protected land.

The Probate Court approved the plan in 2014, funds were raised from within the community, and the Monadnock Conservancy purchased the conservation easement in 2016. An LLC, comprised of 26 citizens, was formed and bought the land in 2018. Volunteers and LLC members then carried out extensive renovations and improvements.

Beginning at 8 a.m. and continuing throughout the day on May 18, Hooper's gala re-opening will celebrate many of these accomplishments with a fun day complete with refreshments and various events.

A shotgun-start 9-hole golf tournament will begin at 8 a.m. There will be contests for all ages for longest drive, as well as chipping and putting by age category. Not a golfer? Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., brand new golf carts will be available for anyone who wants to ride around the beautiful rolling hills of the course.

For more information about Hooper Golf Course, visit www.hoopergolfcourse.com.

Senior bowling roundup

• Great Lakes (9-1) took sole control of first place after week 2 of the spring/summer season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League at Brattleboro Bowl. Team DDL (8-2) and Pin Huggers (7-3) are close behind.

There's a three-way tie for fourth between Stayin' Alive, Team MNR, and Stars & Strikes (all 6-4), followed by Tres Amigos and Team BDR (both 5-5), Team 5 (4-6) and Team JKL, 3 Stooges, and Tornadoes (all 1-9).

Beth Armington had the women's high handicap game (249) and series (650). Duane Schillemat had the men's high handicap game (257), while Michael Hurd had the high handicap series (715). Stayin' Alive had the high team handicap game (697) and series (1,995).

In scratch scoring, Fred Ashworth rolled games of 211, 202, and 198 to complete his 611 series. Gary Montgomery had a 231 game on the way to a 596 series, while Schillemat had a 230 game as part of his 567 series. Les Wigdor had a 198 game to finish with a 535 series. Marty Adams also had a 203 game.

No female bowlers had a 200-plus game or a 500-plus series. Top scorers were Pamela Greenblott (167) and Shirley Aiken (166). Pat Bentrup (466) had the highest series.

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