Mountaineers Pull Away to Reach to D-IV Final

  • Whitcomb-Rochester’s Jordan Galluzzo.

Valley News Sports Editor
Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Bethel — Patience comes to those who wait.

Going against an early-game tendency, Jordan Galluzzo turned a 10-pitch at-bat into the single that kicked off a five-run fifth-inning rally, sending No. 1 Whitcomb-Rochester to a 10-2 win over No. 4 Danville in a VPA Division IV softball semifinal at the Bethel Athletic Fields on Tuesday.

Immediately after freshman first baseman Chelsie Trask gloved a Lilly Therrien line drive to end the game, the Mountaineers (16-1) joined in a surprise for longtime coach Ray Colton: a banner marking his 200th career victory. No. 201, should it come in Saturday’s title game, would close both Colton’s history and those of Whitcomb High and Rochester High with a state championship. The schools are closing this summer as part of a consolidation with South Royalton.

“I knew nothing about it; I didn’t even know I had 200 wins,” said a laughing Colton, the 21-year head coach both at Whitcomb and Whitchester who will retire upon the season’s conclusion. “I’m glad they didn’t tell me or the girls. That would not have been good.”

The Mountaineers trailed, 2-1, entering the bottom of the fifth when Galluzzo ignited the comeback.

Reflecting Whitchester’s swing-first, ask-questions-later approach at the plate, the Sharon Academy senior fouled off four straight Therrien offerings before working a 3-2 count over nine pitches. Galluzzo drilled the 10th offering off the Danville pitcher’s glove for a single, Amelia Mattrick reached on an error and Sammy Barcomb delivered both with a two-run double for the hosts’ first — and only — lead.

“It was kind of nerve-racking; a lot of patience had to be taken into it,” Galluzzo said. “I had to wait it out, had to fight through it. (Colton’s) always told us to be patient at the plate. We always get nerve-racked at the beginning of each game, I don’t know why, but after the first couple of innings, we finally got into the hitting.”

As Whitchester’s offense gradually showed its form, so did freshman pitcher Fiona Vaillancourt.

Although she only allowed one hit on the day, eight Vaillancourt walks kept Danville (9-7) in the game. The visitors used three walks and a Therrien RBI single for a first inning run, and four free passes in the third doubled the advantage.

On the flip side, the Indians couldn’t keep up with Vaillancourt’s pace when she was at her best. The freshman got out of both jams with strikeouts, finishing with 11 Ks.

“Definitely a lot more walks than usual,” Vaillancourt said. “I was very nervous. This game meant a lot to me because we’re not going to have this school and I want to finish this.”

Anna Smith followed Barcomb’s go-ahead double by taking a pitch off her leg, and Whitchester was on its way. Vaillancourt, who tripled home the Mountaineers’ first run in the home third, drew an intentional walk, and Hayley Mears plated Barcomb with an RBI single. A run-scoring Emily Bean swinging bunt and a wild pitch upped the Mountaineers’ lead to 6-2. Whitchester added four more runs in the sixth.

No. 3 Proctor awaits the Mountaineers in Saturday’s 5 p.m. championship game at Castleton University.

Fungoes: Barcomb starred at the plate for Whitchester with three singles, a double and two RBIs in four at-bats. … Smith, Vaillancourt, Mears and Bean also drove in runs for the Mountaineers, who had nine hits off Therrien. … Left fielder Toni Turner produced a pair of sacrifice bunts before Colton lifted her in the fourth inning for Smith. … Bethel Field held up well despite light rain, with only a small puddle behind home plate that was handled with a drying agent before the game. … Whitchester is looking to grab state honors a year after a 7-6 finals loss to West Rutland. … Colton has guided the Mountaineers to a 35-16 record through their three seasons as a cooperative program. He was on the bench when Whitcomb won its last D-IV championship in 2004.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.