When last I saw Leland & Gray softball coach Tammy Clausen, it was April 30 and her team was facing Bellows Falls, who were playing their first home game since the death of teammate Jada Spaulding Boyle in an April 25 car crash.
We talked about how hard it was for high-schoolers to lose a teammate so suddenly. Little did both of us know that, three weeks later, Clausen and her team would again be paying tribute to an athlete dying young. This time, it was for the brother of one of her players.
It was an emotional afternoon in Townshend on May 18, as both the Leland & Gray baseball and softball teams honored the memory of Dylan Landers, a 15-year-old sophomore who played left fielder for the varsity baseball team. Landers was killed in a truck crash in Townshend on May 13.
By a quirk in the schedule, both the Rebel teams faced Bellows Falls that day in their first home game since Dylan's death. If any group of young people could totally understand what was going through the minds of their opponents, it was the Terriers, who have soldiered on in the face of their gut-wrenching loss.
Center fielder Hannah Landers, Dylan's brother, switched her softball jersey number to 12 in his memory and moved to left field to play at her brother's position. She will wear that number for the rest of the season. She spoke to both teams and their fans before the games and told them how much Dylan loved baseball and would want the teams to play on.
The Rebel girls went on to win their game against the Terriers, 21-11. Landers had two base hits and drove in four runs. The baseball team lost to BF, 11-4.
After traveling north to beat Woodstock, 14-1, on May 20, the Rebel girls played host to Twin Valley. The excitement of playing a rival in front of a big home crowd helped with the healing process, and the Leland & Gray faithful were treated to a 20-10 victory.
“It's been a roller-coaster week, but the girls are holding their own,” Clausen said after the Twin Valley game. It takes a lot of emotional courage and bravery to do what they've been doing, and I am so proud of them.”
A green “Dingers for Dylan” banner hung on the left field fence. No Rebel hit one over the fence, but Ava LeCours and Ruth Wright both hit inside-the-park homers.
LeCours, a cousin of Dylan and Hannah's, hit a two-run shot in the first inning, part of an eight-run uprising in the inning that knocked out Wildcats' starting pitcher Sadie Boyd before they mustered a single out. Wright's solo shot to center field in the sixth inning was part of five-run outburst in that inning that clinched the win for the Rebels.
It looked like the game would be a walkover after the first inning, but the Wildcats finally broke through against Rebels pitcher Ansley Henderson and scored seven runs in the third inning to cut the Rebels' lead to 8-7. Hannah Sullivan, who took over the pitching duties in the first inning, and Boyd both hit two-run doubles.
The Rebels got some breathing room in the bottom half of the inning when they scored four runs aided by several errors in the field by the Wildcats. Twin Valley never threatened after that as the Rebels completed a pair of double plays in the fourth and seventh innings.
After losing eight of their first nine games, the Rebels finished their week with three straight wins to improve to 4-8. The Wildcats ended the week at 1-7.
• Mount Anthony is undefeated in Division I, but Brattleboro gave them a stiff challenge in a 3-0 loss to the Patriots at Sawyer Field on May 18.
Madisyn Crossman had three hits, including two for extra bases, and an RBI, while Taeya Guetti had two hits for the Patriots and drove in two in the win. Patriots pitcher Sofia Berryhill struck out 11 and held the Colonels to just four hits.
Brattleboro bounced back with a 7-4 win at Rutland on May 20. Pitcher Leah Madore went the distance for the win, striking out five while scattering six hits.
The Colonels finished out the week with a 17-5 win over Otter Valley in five innings on May 22 at Sawyer Field. Madore gave up eight hits, but walked no one and struck out seven to get the win.
Taylin Bauer had three hits and drove in six runs. Aliza Speno had two hits and drove in three runs, and Brenna Beebe, Alexa Kinley, and Natalie Hendricks all had hits for the 6-4 Colonels.
• Brattleboro is starting to roll just in time for the Division I playoffs. On May 18 at Tenney Field, the Colonels defeated Mount Anthony, 7-5. Turner Clews and Caden Wood each hit a two-run double for the Colonels, while Aaron Petrie reached base four times, Greg Fitzgerald finished had two hits, and the Colonels got one hit each from Zinabu McNeice, Alex Kurucz, and Brandon Weeks. McNeice was the winning pitcher and Weeks earned a save in relief.
The Colonels headed north to Rutland on May 20 and beat up on the Ravens, 12-4. Jack Pattison hit a two-run triple to start the game, McNeice hit an RBI double and Aaron Petrie drew four walks and scored three runs. Weeks struck out nine to get the win.
On May 22 at Tenney Field, Brattleboro beat Otter Valley, 5-2. McNeice went the distance for the victory. He gave up six hits with nine strikeouts and one walk, and got out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning.
Fitzgerald had three hits and drove in two runs, Jolie Glidden hit an RBI double, Alex Kurucz had h a pair of hits, and McNeice drove in a run with a sacrifice fly. Brattleboro is now 9-1 and finished the week in the No. 2 spot in Division I.
• Bellows Falls got another win on May 20 when they beat Mill Rover, 11-1, in five innings. Grady Lockerby was the winning pitcher and helped himself with two hits and two RBIs.
• The 0-10 Brattleboro girls are still searching for their first win of the season. On May 18 in Manchester, undefeated Burr & Burton rolled to an 18-2 win. The Bulldogs scored nine goals in each half. Colonels goalie Abigail Squires made nine saves.
On May 22 in Rutland, the Colonels lost again, 15-3. Brianna Paul scored two goals and Willow Romo also scored. Squires finished with eight saves in goal.
Bigelow set to play for Lake Monsters
• Pitcher Leif Bigelow of Guilford, a 2018 graduate of Brattleboro Union High School and a sophomore at the University of Maine, will be playing in Burlington this summer for the Vermont Lake Monsters in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, a New England-based all-star league with eight teams.
Bigelow, who transferred to Maine from the University of Connecticut last fall, has been a relief pitcher this season for the Black Bears. He has appeared in five games and gave up a total of three runs (all earned) on six hits over 4 1/3 innings, with one strikeout, three walks, two batters hit by a pitch, and a 6.23 earned run average.
It was his first full season of collegiate baseball. Bigelow missed his freshman season at UConn in 2019 due to elbow surgery, and then lost the 2020 season when college baseball shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This will be his second season in the Futures League, he played for the Westfield (Mass.) Starfires last summer. Bigelow is expected to join the team in early June.
The Lake Monsters will play a 68-game season that begins on May 27. They will play their home games at Centennial Field, the former home of the University of Vermont's baseball team.
The Futures League, which has had more than 150 of its players taken in the Major League Baseball draft over the past 10 years, is made up of current college players from around the country. Teams are required to carry a minimum 26-player roster with at least 13 players coming from either a New England college and/or are New England natives.
The Lake Monsters had been the Single-A affiliate of the Oakland A's, but the Lake Monsters and 39 other minor league teams around the U.S. lost their affiliations after Major League Baseball did a reorganization of the minor leagues earlier this year. The Burlington team then joined the Futures League to insure that there would be baseball at Centennial Field this summer.
For more information about the Lake Monsters, visit www.milb.com/vermont.
Some big catches at Saxtons River fishing derby
• A group of 77 young fishers reeled in prizes and a good time at the annual Saxtons River Recreation Area fishing derby on May 8. Prizes went to the following: Ages 4-6: first fish, Drayden Croesus; biggest fish, Hunter Thomas; most fish, Adler Bennett; Ages 7-10: first fish, Audrey Merritt; biggest fish, Sophia Mylott; most fish, Audrey Merritt; Ages 11-14: first fish, Jacob Stockman; biggest fish, Madison Duby; most fish, Emma McCullough.
Sophia Mylott also made history by catching an 11 1/2 inch fish, the biggest ever caught at this derby, according to derby organizer Samantha Fletcher.
Senior bowling roundup
• In Week 4 of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League on May 20 at Brattleboro Bowl, Team 3 had another 5-0 week to move into first place at 14-6. Team 5 is in second at 12-8, followed by Team 2 (11-9), Team 7 and Team 1 (both 10-10), Team 8 (8-12), and Team 6 and Team 4 (both 7-13).
Jeanne Czuy had the women's high handicap game (242), while Doris LaFortune had the high handicap series (671). Warren Corriveau Sr. had the men's high handicap game (272) and series (757), whileTeam 2 had the high team handicap game (864), and series (2,518).
In scratch scoring, Corriveau led the men with a 676 series that featured games of 245, 221, and 210. Chuck Adams had games of 214, 210, and 202 in his 626 series. Jerry Dunham rolled a 222 and a 171 as part of his 542 series, and Marty Adams rolled a 176 and a 175 as part of his 501 series.
Carol Gloski rolled a 170 as part of her high scratch series of 497 to lead the women. Andrea Papanek rolled a 196 as part of her 486 series.