ADDISON COUNTY — Slugging Middlebury Union High School junior catcher Mattea Bagley repeats as the Independent's Softball Player of the Year and headlines the 2011 Addison Independent Softball All-Star Team.
At least two athletes from each of the four local teams are recognized here after a season in which Mount Abraham, Otter Valley, MUHS and Vergennes probably didn’t finish as well as hoped, but all still accomplished something positive.
Coach Gene Bell’s Eagles had expected to contend for the Division II title after returning most starters from a No. 4 seed, but didn’t fire on all cylinders for all of the season. Still, Mount Abe won eight games against the toughest competition in the state, prevailed in a playoff contest, and came within an inch of knocking off the No. 2 seed in the quarterfinal round. An Eagle senior and two juniors earned berths here.
Coach Pattie Candon’s Otters were hit hard by graduation, but fought back from an early hole to finish at .500 in the Marble Valley League, and they also won one playoff game. Two seniors who were the heart of the Otters offensively and defensively made the Independent team.
Coach Marie Eugair’s Tigers spent most of the season without their top pitcher and ended up with six wins in the Metro, including a road playoff contest. Then they gave D-II champion Springfield its best game of the postseason before falling in extra innings. A senior and another junior join Bagley on the Independent squad.
Coach Mike Sullivan’s young Commodores finished with five Metro wins and can hang their hat on the unofficial county title: They knocked off both Mount Abe and MUHS. Two members of a young VUHS team are honored here, a junior and a sophomore.
Selections for Independent all-star teams are made based on observation, statistics and consultation with the coaches. Congratulations to the following:
MATTEA BAGLEY, MUHS JUNIOR, PLAYER OF THE YEAR. Notes: Lit up the best pitching in the state for a .532 batting average; stole a local high of 20 bases without being caught; drilled 12 doubles, two triples and a homer to rack up a slugging percentage over .800; and drove in 13 runs and scored 17, both team highs ... Defensively at catcher has soft hands, quick feet, a strong arm and excellent instincts ... Hardnosed athlete who loves to compete and loves the game.
Eugair’s Quotes: “It’s not something you see every day, a kid hitting over .500. It’s unbelievable and it says a lot about her, her athleticism, her determination ... She’s very competitive. She’s one of those kids. She strives to be the best every day. ... She’s a feared catcher. Not a lot of people run on her ... She was one of our captains this year, and I think she did a fantastic job.”
KRISTY PINKHAM, OV SENIOR. Notes: Speedy third baseman who proved impossible to keep off base, and once on base impossible to stop from scoring ... Led all local players with 29 runs, and drove in 10 runs from the leadoff spot ... Batted .403 with an on-base percentage of .421, stole 18 bases and socked a double and a homer ... After being limited to hitting early on by a shoulder injury, came back at full strength and showcased her reflexes, smarts and strong arm in the field.
Candon’s Quotes: “Once she added that defensive aspect to her game, she took off offensively as well ... She just has made some unbelievable plays at third base ... She’s got it all. She’ll beat you with the short ball, and then she’ll beat you with the base hit. She’ll hit the gap ... She is a leader with her actions and her words ... She knows her teammates and knows how to get them to accomplish their best.”
AMBER FAY, MOUNT ABE JUNIOR. Notes: Reached base at a .492 rate for the Eagles and enjoyed a solid season on the mound and at third base after recovering from an early injury ... Used her bunting ability to bat .448 at the leadoff spot, scored 12 runs, drove in nine, and stole six bases ... Won three games and struck out 61 batters in 62 innings with an earned-run average of 3.5.
Bell’s Quotes: “She gets on base ... She’s the one who really gets our offense going ... With one out. Amber is standing on third base ... She throws probably as hard as anybody ... As long as Amber is throwing we have a chance to win ... She’s a hard worker ... She’s one of the first ones there and one of the last ones to leave ... She’s all business. She wants to get better.”
JESS GIPSON, MUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Began the season as the Tigers’ ace pitcher, but spend most of it limited to designated hitting by a shoulder injury ... Made the most of it with a .339 batting average, .435 OBP, 10 RBIs, 11 runs and 10 stolen bases ... In action at the beginning and end of the season tossed 38 innings, won three games, struck out 28 and had an ERA of 3.50.
Eugair’s Quotes: “She’s smart at the plate ... She’s just a heads-up ballplayer on the field. She’s one of those you wish you had a couple more of. She’s determined to do her best, whether it’s at bat or pitching ... Softball is her life. It’s what she loves. The shoulder injury was devastating for her, but she never stopped.”
CAITLIN CHAPUT, VUHS SOPHOMORE. Notes: Stepped into the starting role behind the plate at VUHS, replacing a departing all-star, and did enough to be named team MVP ... Batted .358 with a .413 OBP, drove in a team-high 15 runs and scored 10 ... Played well defensively and caught nine runners stealing, two in the Commodores’ playoff game.
Sullivan’s Quotes: “She just seemed to have a big hit in a lot of games this year ... She’s really coachable. In the last two years she’s really turned herself into a decent ballplayer ... She did a nice job in her first year as catcher with some big shoes to fill ... Caitlin is quietly asserting herself as one of the leaders by example on the team.”
ERIN TROMBLEY, OV SENIOR. Notes: Stepped up as the OV cleanup hitter, batting .339 with 14 RBIs, many at important times ... Had an OBP of .379 and scored 10 runs ... Improved defensively and showed poise in anchoring the middle of the Otters’ infield at shortstop.
Candon’s Quotes: “This year she just blossomed at short ... She just came into it this year making solid plays and coming up with a solid arm ... She hits the ball hard. They were just solid singles and they came at opportune times ... She also stepped up leadership wise, with just constant positive reinforcement for all the kids.”
TABBY DANYOW, VUHS JUNIOR OUTFIELDER. Notes: Speedy centerfielder who read the ball well off the bat, covered a lot of ground in the outfield, and threw out four baserunners, three at the plate ... Batted .343 and showed good plate discipline in reaching base at a .420 clip ... Scored 14 runs and stole 18 bases in 19 attempts.
Sullivan’s Quotes: “Tabby has matured into an excellent defensive player with a great first step, giving her the ability to run down most any fly ball or line drive ... Just her play in the field, she’s such a presence ... She’s almost uncatchable on the base paths.”
ALLISON HAYES, MOUNT ABE SENIOR. Notes: Slugging first baseman who is also an adept fielder, making only three errors in 145 chances ... Batted .283 while drawing enough walks to boost her OBP to .387 ... Drilled two home runs and four doubles while driving in 10 runs and scoring 12.
Bell’s Quotes: “She’s disciplined hitter ... Allison has a very good eye at the plate ... She’s been one of the better hitters I’ve ever had ... She’s got a really good glove over there ... She’s got really soft hands fielding ground balls and knows when to charge fielding a bunt.”
SHANYN LEDUC, MUHS SENIOR. Notes: Hard-hitting corner infielder who split time between first and third base, finishing at the hot corner, and compiled a respectable .921 fielding percentage ... Batted .302, drove in 12 runs, one off the team lead, and scored seven times.
Eugair’s Quotes: “Defensively Shay covers the corners well, not letting much by her ... She became a staple in our defense ... She plays heads-up ball and is willing to do whatever she needs to for the team. She is passionate about the game and gives her all every day ... Shay is a leader. We refer to her as our team mom.”
ALYSSA CHARBONNEAU, MOUNT ABE JUNIOR. Notes: Solid all-around outfielder and heady baserunner who seemed to find a way to score and led Mount Abe with 15 runs ... Batted .310 with three doubles and five RBI ... Tough to run on from right field, from where she threw out three baserunners.
Bell’s Quotes: “She’s a solid fielder. She’s got a great arm ... She has very fast hands at the plate ... She’s a good baserunner. She reacts well to situations ... She’s a good all-around kid. She works hard in practice.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at email@example.com.