Wildcats knock off number-one seed
by Jack Deming
Jun 12, 2014 | 1419 views | 0 0 comments | 39 39 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Colton Butler jumps into catcher Sammy Cunningham-Darrah’s arms after catching a line drive for the last out of Sunday’s come-from-behind victory over West Rutland.
Colton Butler jumps into catcher Sammy Cunningham-Darrah’s arms after catching a line drive for the last out of Sunday’s come-from-behind victory over West Rutland.
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Looking at their regular season record of 5-10, it would seem improbable that the Twin Valley Wildcats would vie for a chance to play in the Division IV state championship. After their 14-1 domination of Twinfield last Wednesday, the nine-seed Wildcats would face even tougher competition. Manager Aaron Wood insisted that the mounting losses were no reflection on how talented his team was, it was simply a matter of correcting mistakes, and peaking at the right time. That peak hit its mark on Sunday, as the Wildcats mounted a huge comeback to silence number-one-seed West Rutland. While Twin Valley lost in the semifinals to Blue Mountain, the 2014 season saw the Wildcats go further than any Wildcat softball team has before.

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WEST RUTLAND- To make history and advance to the semifinals, the Wildcats would have to come from behind. They would have to manufacture runs, tighten up their defense, take chances, and make the final out. Ultimately, they just had to believe that they could win. To make it to the semifinals for the first time in school history, the Wildcats would need to make every out count, and after finding themselves down by four runs early, they did just that. Twin Valley pitched, batted, bunted, and stole their way back into the game and knocked out the West Rutland Golden Horde to capture a small piece of school history, and a trip to the semifinals.

The Wildcats were hitless in the first five innings, shut down by Horde pitcher Kaelin Reopell, whose offense took advantage of early Wildcat miscues for a 4-0 lead. The Wildcats manufactured two runs in the first four innings as Jordan Niles made her way around the bases to take home on a wild pitch in the second inning, and drove in Savannah Nesbitt with a fourth-inning sacrifice fly. Down 5-2 and only six outs from going home, the momentum shifted. Wildcat starter Colton Butler began to find rhythm in her pitching, and her defense stopped making mistakes. The Wildcats began the sixth inning with authority, and systematically chiseled away at West Rutland’s grip on the game. Christina Moore hit an RBI double and Butler smacked an RBI triple to cut the lead to one.

Kaylea Niles would bunt home Jessica Fox for the tie, and make her way to third following an RBI single by Sammy Cunningham-Darrah, which scored Jordan Niles, and put the Wildcats in the lead. All it took was a wild pitch from Reopell and Kaylea Niles darted home, beating the play at the base to score the Wildcats’ fifth run of the inning and giving her team a two-run cushion heading into the final two innings. For the Wildcats to complete the comeback, the defense would have to hold. The Horde would blank in the bottom of the sixth, as would the Wildcats in the top of the seventh, but with two outs in the bottom of the final frame, the Horde began to make moves. Sam Lacz got on base with a single, followed by an RBI from Jenn Sumner, who made her way to third on an error. Butler had a fragile one-run lead, a runner on third, and one out separating her team from the semifinals. That final out came in a bang-bang play as Butler wound up, slung one to Horde batter Tyler Raiche, and snagged a line drive delivered right back to her for the final out. As quickly as that last ball made it to her glove she made it into the arms of catcher Cunningham-Darrah to celebrate their comeback.

Blue Mountain 6 TV 2

WELLS RIVER- The Twin Valley girls found themselves in a standoff with the Blue Mountain Bucks Tuesday night as they headed into the fifth inning. Starter Colton Butler scored the team’s only run on an RBI single from Jordan Niles in the fourth inning, but the Bucks had answered with two of their own.

Down 2-1, Savannah Nesbitt drove Sammy Cunningham-Darrah home for the third tying score of the game. But after achieving only two hits, one on a bunt and one an infield single, through the first four innings, host Blue Mountain broke the deadlock with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. The Bucks got back-to back hits, followed by a triple to right center field, which put Blue Mountain ahead 4-2. One more run would score and once again the Wildcats faced an uphill battle. While they established themselves as the comeback kids in round two of the playoffs, the Wildcats were unable to get any offensive traction, while their defense allowed one more run in the sixth for an eventual 6-2 defeat.

“It was a competitive game all the way through,” said Twin Valley manager Aaron Wood. “It was a competitive season all around. We went 5-10 but we played and also beat some Division II and Division III teams, and it was our best postseason in school history. Our seniors were all great leaders who contributed to the season’s success. That was the most success we’ve had in the playoffs in four years of softball and I’m proud of how they battled, especially against West Rutland.”

Butler struck out five and walked five, and was one of only five batters to get a hit, along with Nesbitt, Cunningham-Darrah, Jordan Niles, and Natalie Herrick.
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