Twin Valley returned to the playoffs this year with a 9-7 record, trying to follow in the footsteps of last year’s team, which won the first softball playoff game in school history. This season it wasn’t meant to be, as the Wildcats fell in the first round to Thetford in a 13-4 loss.
“The season didn’t end how we had hoped,” said shortstop Hannah Swanson. “But I think we improved as a team for next year.”
The Wildcats got into a hole early, giving up eight runs in the first two innings, including four RBIs from the Panthers’ Shania Covey, who knocked an in-the-park home run to left field in the second. Micheala Pomeroy pitched all seven for Thetford, scattering nine hits and four runs.
Abby Putnam went 3-3 from the plate for the Wildcats, and Veronika Vernon went 2-2, knocked home an RBI, and recorded a run in her final game as a Wildcat. Putnam started all seven on the mound for Twin Valley, retiring six of her last seven batters faced, but the Panthers seemed to put each fly ball just out of reach, while their defense stifled the Wildcats’ rally efforts.
After two frames, with Thetford leading 8-1, the next five innings became a defensive struggle with scattered hits and runs for each team. While the Twin Valley girls were the comeback kids in many late-season games, they could not overcome Pomeroy’s pitching and took the 13-4 loss.
Along with Vernon, the Wildcats say goodbye to left fielder Lexi Reinertson this year. According to their teammates, whoever steps into their positions will have big defensive shoes to fill.
Next year the Wildcats will shift to Division IV, something players Sammy Cunningham-Darrah and Savannah Nesbitt are excited about. “ We’re happy with the winning record this year,” said Cunningham-Darrah. “It gives us high hopes for next year,” added Nesbitt, who sat the year out following a soccer knee injury.
TVHS 22 Mt. St. Joseph 8
Twin Valley got into a hole early against Mount St. Joseph on Thursday, falling behind 2-8 halfway through the match. But the Wildcats dug themselves out in a huge way, scoring 20 unanswered runs in the next three innings to seal another big late-season victory.
The Green Wave got out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, through no fault of the Wildcats’ defense. They just couldn’t catch a break, watching Mount St. Joseph squeeze hits into the gaps time and again. After an RBI triple, double, and single, the Wildcats stopped the bleeding and stranded three to end the inning.
Twin Valley began chipping away at the lead with an Abby Putnam RBI scoring Sammy Cunningham-Darrah in the first, and a run by Kaylea Niles on three straight steals in the second bringing the score to within one. The Golden Horde poured on five more runs in the third, including a big three-RBI triple to put the game back in their corner. Putnam, Twin Valley’s starting pitcher, only gave up one walk in the inning, all runs being scored off hits.
Down 8-2, it looked like Twin Valley’s day was all but over, but a streak of resiliency has marked their recent play. Refusing to roll over, the ‘Cats scored five of their own in the bottom of the third. Niles, Colton Butler, Veronika Vernon, and Putnam all added RBIs to the effort and the Wildcats started taking advantage of pitches in the dirt, easily advancing their base runners, including shortstop Hannah Swanson, who recorded eight steals on the day.
After allowing two straight hits in the top of the fourth, the defense got to work with a pop out, an infield ground out, and a strikeout looking for Putnam, proving the momentum had shifted. From there the Wildcats took back the lead in explosive fashion, as Cunningham-Darrah, Swanson, and Natalie Herrick each stole three bases in the fourth, and added runs to the tally. The score stood at 13-8 after four frames and here came the Wildcats defense again, retiring three of four Golden Horde batters in the fifth.
In the bottom of the fifth the Wildcats added four more runs, including two off a triple from Vernon to make the score 17-8.
Putnam and her defense shut down Mount. St. Joseph again in the sixth, while adding five more to their total for a 22-run day and the big win.
Proctor 9 TV 1
Coming off three big wins in a row against Long Trail School, Poultney, and Mount St. Joseph, the Wildcats went to Proctor to try for their longest winning streak of the season. But the Phantoms were able to quell the powerful-as-of-late Wildcat offense, allowing only one run.
Putnam pitched all six for the Wildcats, whose typically sharp defense allowed too many errors to keep the game in check. Without errors, coach Aaron Wood said his team could have kept the Phantoms’ run tally to two, but bad defense doomed their hopes.
The Wildcat offense that scored 53 runs in their past three matches was nowhere to be found on Saturday, with Cunningham-Darrah providing the Wildcats’ only RBI on a triple in the second inning.
The Wildcats finished their season 9-7, good enough for a home playoff game.