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Randolph Wins With Small Ball

Chester, Vt. — When you have a team that likes to play a bunting-and-running game, it is advantageous to get an early lead. And that’s just what fifth-seeded Randolph High did yesterday afternoon at McKenzie Field in forging an 8-2 win over No. 4 Green Mountain in the quarterfinals of the Vermont Division III softball tournament.

The Galloping Ghosts (13-5) put down five bunts — three for hits — stole four bases, and will now take their show on the road once more on Wednesday in the semifinals at Leland & Gray against the top-seeded Rebels (14-3). It will be a reunion of sorts as both coaches, Randolph’s Brandi Comette and Leland & Gray’s Tammy Claussen, are Randolph graduates and played softball there for coach Hal Stewart.

The Ghosts entered a slight underdog against the Chieftains (12-6). Still, Green Mountain coach Terry Farrell knew just what happened yesterday. “We got beat by a better team today,” he said.

The Chieftains have had good back-to-back seasons in Farrell’s two years (12-6 last year), and this team didn’t have a senior on it.

However, the best underclassman on the field was Randolph sophomore pitcher Rachel Johnson, a lanky right-hander who threw 137 pitches in winning her five-hitter. Displaying a rise ball and an occasional change, Johnson fanned 10 and walked three. Her defense made a couple of errors, but only one was painful.

Johnson didn’t give up a hit until the fifth inning. She also had two hits at the plate and drove in three runs.

In addition to stealing four bases, Randolph ran the bases with a lot of haste, having four runners cut down on the basepaths, two at home.

“Our base running wasn’t the greatest, but I always wants us to be aggressive,” said Comette.

It was generally a solid all-around game for the Ghosts, who pitched the ball well, picked it up well and swung the bat very well, with 14 hits. Eight of the nine starters had at least one hit, led by a three-hit game from Jackie Lumbra.

Randolph had five consecutive hits in the first inning, scoring three times, the big blow a two-run single from Johnson. That gave the Ghosts the cushion they needed to play the small-ball game.

“Yeah, that sure set up well for them,” said Farrell

Green Mountain came back with a unearned run in the first, and could have had some more in the fifth when they had two hits along with a Randolph error. The Chieftains came away with nothing, however, as a runner was cut down on the bases and Johnson slipped a called third strike past Emily MacNamara to get out of the jam.

Randolph broke the game open with a run in the fourth and four more in the fifth. Alyssa Daubenschnidt, Mary Kate Poirier, Johnson and Lumbra all had hits in the fifth inning.

Steph Knockenhauer took the loss for the Chieftains. She struck out two and walked one in a complete-game effort.

If there was a gold star handed out for defense, it would have gone to Randolph first baseman Brooke Jacques, who made a diving stab of a Mel Drummond liner in the seventh.

Randolph’s semifinal visit south comes Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. The championship game in the division will be played in Poultney on Friday or Saturday.