Making the Magic Happen
Woodsville High softball coach Dana Huntington offers a high five to Becca Haney during the Engineers' 19-10 defeat of Wilton-Lyndeborough in the NHIAA Division IV title game. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)
The Woodsville softball team poses for a team photograph following their state championship win. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)
Woodsville High senior Danelle Huntington winds up during the Engineers' 19-10 defeat of Wilton-Lyndeborough in the NHIAA Division IV title game at Plymouth State. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)
Dana Huntington was pretty low-key about the upcoming season when he summed up his team’s chances earlier in the spring: “The team goal is to get back to the final four and have another chance to play at Plymouth State.”
The idea was simple: Once you get to Plymouth State, anything can happen. At that point, a title is only two games away.
Woodsville came out of the preseason hardened by a rigorous training regimen and an unselfish desire to succeed as a team ahead of individual goals. So, with a solid corps of seniors and a strong group of juniors and underclassmen, the Engineers were ready to take on the best in New Hampshire’s Division IV.
It didn’t hurt that they had a stable of pitchers to throw at the opposition every afternoon, a defense that played flawlessly in the field and a bench that went 16 players deep.
“I’ve never seen a team put in the effort that this team did — top to bottom they were constantly asking for more,” said Huntington, Woodsville’s third-year coach.
But it took the Engineers a month to get on track, finishing April with a 3-3 record after losing to Lisbon on April 29, 10-9.
From that point on, however, Woodsville ran the table — 14 straight victories — culminating with the state title on June 2 at Plymouth State University, beating Wilton-Lyndeborough, the team that had ousted them from the playoffs last year.
En route, Woodsville ran up some incredible numbers. Over the final 10 regular season games, Woodsville outscored its opponent, 127-17. The Engineers also threw five shutouts in that period — more than Division I champ Timberlane or Division II winner Con-Val.
As a matter of fact, only two schools scored in double figures all season against Woodsville, netting more than three runs in a game on only five occasions.
At the plate, sophomore DP Lottie Page shook off a 1-for-12 start to finish hitting at a 26-for-56 clip and lead the team in RBIs (31), home runs (4) and doubles (10). Junior Julia Bowman led the team in batting average (.468), while sophomore Paige Martin was the hit leader with 32.
After two one-sided victories in the early rounds of the playoffs, the third-seeded Engineers found themselves in the unfamiliar position of trailing late in the game to No. 2 Colebrook.
But Page came through with a seventh-inning double to drive in the winning run and send Woodsville to the finals for the first time since its title season of 2010.
“It just shows you that this team never lets down,” said Page after the game. “We wanted this so badly that nothing was going to stop us.”
Not even their old nemesis from Wilton-Lyndeborough. Certainly not after taking a 9-1 lead after just two at-bats.
But Wilton never wilted. The Warriors closed to 14-9 after just three innings before ace Danelle Huntington — the coach’s daughter — restored order. “I told her you just have to keep battling and be tougher than they are,” said the coach of the drama in the title game. “That heart she has came back out, and our kids’ desire overall was amazing.”
Woodsville went on to bang out 12 hits to go along with 15 walks in the offensive mix to wrest the title from Wilton and start the celebration.
In the end, the Engineers met their coach’s expectations, getting to Plymouth State with a chance at the title.
“When you have 16 or 17 girls who really, truly want to be involved,” said Huntington following the victory, “then magic happens.”