Championship Reflections: Oxbow High Softball

  • Oxbow's Kayleigh Trojanowski (11) and Mary Bourgeois hoist the hardware after the team defeated Leland & Gray in their state championship game in Poultney, Vt., on June 10, 2017. Oxbow won, 11-2. (Ben DeFlorio photograph)

  • Oxbow catcher Bailee Wheeler fires up her teammates in the dugout during their championship with Leland & Gray in Poultney, Vt., on June 10, 2017. Oxbow won, 11-2. (Ben DeFlorio photograph)

  • Oxbow's Mary Bourgeois slides in safely during the team's championship game with Leland & Gray in Poultney, Vt., on June 10, 2017. Oxbow won, 11-2. (Ben DeFlorio photograph)

  • Oxbow coach Robin Wozny gives instruction to her team during their state championship game with Leland & Gray in Poultney, Vt., on June 10, 2017. Oxbow won, 11-2. (Ben DeFlorio photograph)

Valley News Sports Editor
Monday, July 03, 2017

Championship day was Mom’s day when the Oxbow High softball team won the Vermont Division III state crown on June 10.

For 28 years, coach Robin Wozny guided Olympian fortunes with a mix of care and fire. She’d made her plans to retire known after top-ranked Oxbow won its D-III semifinal, and her break from the program became official with the O’s 11-2 defeat of Leland & Gray in the state final at Poultney Elementary School.

Wozny’s departure was a year or so in the making. Given the volume of senior talent on the squad, Wozny couldn’t bring herself to step down after a near-miss title run in 2016. So when Oxbow closed out its perfect 18-0 campaign, the O’s considered it as much a gift for coach as a send-off for Mom.

“I know it’s been a lot of years, but it’s a good one to end on,” said sophomore pitcher Madison Fornwalt, who closed out the championship with a perfect inning of relief. “She wanted to end on a good note, and I agree with that. It’s a good note to end on.”

Oxbow rolled through its schedule on the strength of Fornwalt and senior Mary Bourgeois, the O’s two-headed pitching tandem. The two offered delivery contrasts — Bourgeois a cornucopia of moving parts, Fornwalt pure deal-with-it power — that produced the same result every time. The pair combined on eight shutouts, including four straight entering the final, and didn’t allow more than three runs in a game after the season’s first week.

“Together, those two are awesome,” Wozny said. “Just awesome.”

The Olympians coupled that with power at the plate. Oxbow threw double digits on the scoreboard 10 times during the regular season and rarely endured a challenging game.

After sustaining a difficult defeat to Richford in last year’s D-III final, the O’s wanted to be prepared the next time around.

“I’m just really grateful that we ended this way, because our team really deserved it,” Bourgeois said. “We worked so hard this season, and we pushed through a lot of stuff. We’re all one. Last year was really devastating, but getting it this year is really good.”

The Olympians made sure Leland & Gray had no chance. Bourgeois lofted the game’s fourth pitch over Poultney’s short center-field wall for a solo home run. Three batters later, Fornwalt sent a line-drive screamer out of the park. A 2-0 lead after one inning became 6-0 after three — aided by a two-run Fornwalt homer — and 9-1 through five.

Sara Walker, Alex Giesing, Britteny Brocar, Kayleigh Trojanowski and Kaysea Neil all drove in runs as Oxbow built its advantage. As if needing to advertise the Olympians’ defensive abilities, Brocar added a shoetop snag of a sinking liner in the Leland & Gray fourth to deny extra bases.

The most complete of D-III softball teams produced the most complete of performances over the length of the season and on the one day when it was most required. They sent Mom home a champion.

“I think, when you’re a teacher, you need to establish relationships with kids, and it’s hard to do that just in the classroom,” said Wozny, who will transition from teaching math to an administrative role at Oxbow next year. “I think this is a great way to establish relationships with kids, and they do so much more for you if they like you and you like them.”

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