WEST RUTLAND- Heading into this season, Twin Valley varsity softball coach Jeff Putnam knew the team would be in a rebuild mode. The squad is small, only 10 players, and six of them are ninth-graders who have never played at any high school level, let alone seen a varsity fastball.
On Monday the team had its season opener, and Putnam now knows just how much of a renovation project this season will be. West Rutland, a team loaded with veteran players, put a wrecking ball to the Wildcats and pounded out a 33-2 win in a game that was shortened to five innings.
“They have a pretty good pitcher who throws hard,” said Putnam. “The girls weren’t ready for that. We haven’t been outside and haven’t had any batting practice. We were pretty overmatched at the plate.”
The Golden Horde starter, Lauren Harvey, had her way with Twin Valley’s batters. She struck out 11, walked five, and didn’t allow a hit.
It was the opposite story when the Wildcats were in the field.
“We had trouble with pitching,” said Putnam.
Junior Leah Putnam started the game and had some difficulty finding the plate. Later in the game, she was relieved by freshman Brianna O’Hearn. They combined for 24 walks, which gave West Rutland ample opportunities to score. West Rutland added 12 hits to go with the walks from Twin Valley pitchers.
“Brianna threw strikes, but she doesn’t throw fast,” said Putnam. “It’s hard for someone to jump in at a varsity level. It didn’t take their batters long to dial in on her pitching.”
Ultimately, West Rutland brought in their own relief pitcher and the Wildcats finally found their bats. They scored two runs in the last inning.
Putnam sees this opening game as a learning experience for the team, and was happy the Wildcats fought hard despite the lopsided score.
“They didn’t hang their heads. They played hard and they want to learn.”
Twin Valley will be back on the field today at Burr & Burton Academy in Manchester. That game was originally set for Wednesday, but rain forced a 24-hour delay. First pitch will be at 4:30 pm. The next scheduled game will be on Wednesday, April 26, when the Wildcats host Green Mountain.