Wildcats have strong outing before fading in late innings of season opener
BELLOWS FALLS- For five innings Tuesday afternoon, it looked like the Twin Valley Middle High School varsity softball team was going to open its season with a win. But the bottom of the sixth inning proved to be the team’s undoing, as host Bellows Falls plated 16 runs to pull away for a 20-5 win.
The game was Twin Valley’s first time outdoors this spring, as a snow-covered field and school break week limited the chances for the Wildcats to have any outdoor time. That lack of outside practice eventually caught up with the team, and allowed the host Terriers to take the win.
“We played pretty decent through the first five innings,” said Twin Valley coach Jeff Putnam. “We were leading through the top of the sixth inning, but then things kind of fell apart.”
The Wildcats took a 5-4 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning. They had been riding the strong pitching of junior Jarrett Niles and some timely hitting for the lead.
“They just kind of got in a funk in that last inning,” said Putnam. “They couldn’t do much of anything right in that inning and couldn’t get anybody out.”
Niles began to fade on the mound. Putnam said she had tweaked her back during a hard slide on the bases earlier in the game, which led to Niles tiring on the mound. That and some fielding mistakes opened the door for Bellows Falls. Once that door cracked open, the flood began.
“They lost focus in the last inning,” said Putnam “And when things started going wrong they just collapsed.”
Putnam pulled Niles during the inning and brought in relief pitcher Hannah Sullivan. “She was nervous, she’s a freshman,” he said. “It was her first time pitching in a varsity game.”
Freshman Sadie Boyd led the Wildcats at the plate, going 3-3 with a walk and a run scored. Sullivan, senior Maria Page, and sophomore Kara Bird each went 1-3 and scored a run. Freshman Jayden Crawford was 1-1 and also scored. The Wildcats also missed out on some scoring opportunities, twice leaving runners on second and third and also stranding a runner on third base.
Paxton Santorelli took the win for the host Terriers. They improved to 1-2 on the season. Twin Valley is 0-1.
Putnam said he was happy with the overall game, if not the final result. He added that the team needs to work on its mental toughness, especially putting a bad play behind them and focusing on getting the next out. “They need to dig down a little deeper when things go wrong, not hang their head, and try a little harder.”
The Wildcats are back in action today, heading to Burr & Burton Academy in Manchester for a 4:30 pm game at Dana Thompson park. On Saturday, they travel to Proctor to take on the Phantoms. First pitch is slated for 11 am. For last-minute schedule updates visit tvsdathletics.digitalsports.com.