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Oxbow softball storms back from 5-run deficit to beat Lyndon

  • Lyndon's Delaney Noyes connects on a pitch from Oxbow's Anastase Bourgeois as Laila Ellsworth catches during their game in Bradford, Vt., on May 13, 2021. Oxbow won, 7-6. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Oxbow coach Chuck Simmons sends Aspen Longmoore to home plate on an error after Longmoore hit a three-RBI triple in the fifth inning against Lyndon. In the background is Lyndon shortstop Byrdie Barton. Oxbow won, 7-6. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Lyndon's Emily Tanner is called safe under a tag by second baseman Emma DeGoosh in the sixth inning of their game in Bradford, Vt., on May 13, 2021. Oxbow won, 7-6. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/13/2021 10:06:47 PM
Modified: 5/13/2021 10:06:44 PM

BRADFORD — Every win of Oxbow High softball’s 7-0 start was a double-digit victory. The Olympians were rolling, but largely untested.

That changed in Thursday’s home game against Lyndon, also 7-0 entering the contest, which ended in a much closer 7-6 win in Oxbow’s favor.

After falling behind 5-0, Oxbow came back to tie the game, only to fall behind again, 6-5.

In the bottom of the seventh, sophomore catcher Laila Ellsworth doubled and drove in freshman third baseman Lily Lahaye to tie the game. Ellsworth then advanced to third base on a throwing error.

As freshman center fielder Hadlee Allen stepped up to bat with a chance to win it for her squad, Oxbow head coach Chuck Simmons called time to talk to his leadoff hitter — who is also his stepdaughter.

Oxbow’s starting catcher Makenna Simmons — the coach’s daughter and Allen’s stepsister — had ankle surgery earlier in the day Thursday after suffering a leg injury. During the timeout, Simmons told Allen that nothing would mean more to Makenna than for her to get the game-winning hit.

Allen went back to the plate with tears in her eyes and the extra motivation to come through.

The pep talk worked.

Allen roped a line drive to left field that eluded the left fielder, allowing Ellsworth to score.

Oxbow completed its second comeback of the day to defeat Lyndon, 7-6.

Allen’s teammates swarmed her in celebration and lifted her on their shoulders.

“(I was) just hoping,” Allen said. “I was like, ‘OK, please, just don’t do bad.’ My sister just broke her leg, so I was like, ‘Please, for her.’ I don’t want to disappoint. So I was like, ‘Please just hit the ball.’ ”

The Vikings took a 5-0 lead in the first three innings, while Oxbow didn’t get a single baserunner on in that span.

Lyndon starting pitcher Kelleigh Simpson was throwing for strikes at a high velocity, and the Olympians had trouble catching up in their first time through the order.

The fast pitch speeds required Oxbow to adjust in the batter’s box. Simmons emphasized being aggressive on the first pitch of every at-bat.

That strategy was evident in the way Oxbow broke the slump — back-to-back hits in the fourth inning on first pitches.

“We have not faced any fast pitchers, nothing like that before. So it was definitely a surprise first time in the box,” Allen said. “I’ve played with her on teams before, and I know she pitches fast, so I was set back in the box because there was no way I was going to hit it out front. It definitely took one at-bat for everyone to get adjusted.”

The Olympians scored two runs in that fourth inning. They tied the game in the fifth on a two-RBI triple by senior shortstop Aspen Longmoore, who then scored on a throwing error.

Lyndon regained the lead in the sixth because of a dropped ball at first base that would’ve ended the inning. Simmons told his team to move on from it quickly.

“It’s one of those things that I tell them, ‘So what? Things happen, you can’t change what happened before, so what?’ If you can come out and say it out loud, you seem to flush it early instead of holding it all in,” Simmons said. “They rebounded from it all, we had our meeting, I said ‘So what? Let’s regroup, let’s get our bats going, and we’ll go from there.’ And that’s what they did.”

Starting pitcher Anastase Bourgeois, an eighth grader, settled in after giving up the five runs early.

She pitched the entire game, giving up three earned runs on 10 hits and one walk with eight strikeouts.

With a different catcher behind the plate because of Makenna Simmons’ injury, Bourgeois had to adjust. Chuck Simmons was calling pitches instead of Ellsworth behind the plate, and the coach said Bourgeois’ trust in his calls was key. He said pitcher’s performance in the later innings was a big reason why the Olympians stayed in the game.

“Stass having comfort in me calling pitches was a huge thing for her,” coach Simmons said. “I was only shook off twice, but that was OK, because she knew something I didn’t know, and I’m OK with that. And she ended up getting the outs.”

This win was reassuring for Oxbow in multiple ways.

The Olympians, a Division III team, knocking off an undefeated Division II team is a big deal.

Perhaps more important is the way they won. After all those lopsided victories, winning by coming from behind — twice — is a mental boost for any team.

“I think we all kind of doubted ourselves because all the teams we’ve played we beat by not just a little, but definitely a lot,” Allen said. “And so when we were down, we were like, ‘We know we have it in us to win.’ We’ve won before. But winning this game definitely made us believe that we can beat anyone.”

Oxbow’s next game comes Saturday on the road at Harwood.

Seth Tow can be contacted at stow@vnews.com.




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