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Cosmos Give Hurricanes a Dose of Payback

White River Junction — By the time the Springfield High softball team arrived at Hartford High School to take on the Hurricanes yesterday, Cosmos coach Andy Bladyka wasn’t thinking about revenge.

Even though yesterday’s 5-0 Springfield win was his team’s first against the Canes since last year’s Vermont Division II playoffs — when No. 15 Hartford upset his second-ranked, defending state champion Cosmos in the first round — Bladyka didn’t want to be reminded about any desire to return the favor yesterday.

“I’m tired of hearing about it,” chided Bladyka, a friend of Hartford coach Gary Gervais. “Gary’s reminded me about it enough.”

Extra incentive or none, Springfield (4-1) reminded the Hurricanes that it’s still one of the best teams in the Marble Valley League and D-II.

The Cosmos were excellent fundamentally, committing no defensive errors and running the bases wisely against a Hartford team that appears much improved from last year’s 3-15 squad. The Canes (2-2-1) have already matched last year’s regular season win total and were coming off back-to-back wins over MVL Otter Valley and Upper Valley foe Hanover.

The Cosmos were coming off their first loss of the season, a 10-3 home setback to Brattleboro on Saturday, but the visitors wasted little time taking control yesterday. Springfield was opportunistic early, converting three Hartford errors into as many unearned runs and adding another for a 4-0 lead after 2 1/2 innings.

“You could say we were flat today, but if we were, it was because (Springfield) made us flat,” Gervais said. “They out-hustled us. They were ready for us. Like I told the girls, they had a bone to pick with us and they took advantage of a couple of our mistakes.”

Springfield had strong pitching from Heather Sanborn, who allowed four hits while retiring the side in order twice and registering three of her four strikeouts in the final three innings.

Hartford’s Kaitlynn Woodward didn’t fare much worse, scattering six hits and giving up just two earned runs with two walks and a pair of strikeouts. Like Sanborn, Woodward allowed just one extra base hit. Both pitchers walked two.

A sophomore who had only a few starts last year backing up Yee sisters Jenna and since-graduated Shelby, Woodward spent last summer and part of the fall pitching for several New Hampshire Comets’ Amateur Softball Association teams, then worked with a personal pitching coach and strength trainer over the winter.

Gervais has already seen examples of Woodward’s improvement this season.

“She’s gotten a lot stronger and mentally tougher, too,” the coach said. “She plays all year and did a good job over the offseason.”

Springfield got on the board quickly yesterday, with leadoff batter Chelsea McAlister singling in the first inning and scoring on an error in left field one out later.

McAlister helped the Cosmos add to the damage in the third, driving in Julia Stein (lead-off single) before scoring herself on an error at second base to make it 3-0. No. 2 batter Jen Stein singled to right and stole second, then came home two batters later when Hartford had two errors on the same play. Another mishap at second base allowed Meghan Courchesne to reach and, after the ball finally got to first, Hartford’s first baseman held the ball without checking the runner as Stein alertly rounded third and scored.

“We kept them on their toes today. We were ready to go,” Bladyka said. “We were coming off of that 10-3 loss to Brattleboro, a game where we really only had one bad inning. We wanted to make sure we had a better showing today.”

Leadoff hitter Jenna Yee cranked a one-out double into center field in the third inning for Hartford, and Woodward drew a walk to put two on for Hartford for the first and only time of the game. Sanborn induced a fly out to end the threat.

McAlister drew a leadoff walk in the fifth and scored on a double from Courchesne to make it 5-0.

Couchesne helped her team out defensively in the bottom of the fifth, throwing out Yee at home after Yee earned a two-out walk and stole second. She tried to score on Kayla Lancor’s infield single, but was erased sliding into home when Courchesne’s throw found catcher KK Haskell in perfect stride.

Sanborn retired six of the last seven batters she faced, striking out two in the seventh inning to clinch the win.

Extra Bases: Woodward’s two golden retrievers, Bailey and Lexie, spent the game lying quietly behind Hartford’s bench. ... Sanborn was called out for offensive interference when she contacted the ball twice on a bunt attempt in the sixth inning. ... Lancor, Hartford’s shortstop, turned a double play to end the first inning when she snagged a line out hit by Haskell and doubled up Courchesne, leading too far off of second. ... Both teams were thrown out during their first steal attempts of the game. ... Hartford plays at Mount Anthony on Friday.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.