VPA D-III softball: Wildcats’ winning streak ends

  • From left, White River Valley softball players Tanner Drury, Blake Southworth, Hannah White and Toni Turner cheer on batter Chelsie Trask during their VPA Division III softball semifinal against BFA-Fairfax on Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in South Royalton. BFA-Fairfax won, 11-4. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news photographs — Jennifer Hauck

  • White River Valley softball player Emily Bean throws to the infield with Tanner Drury behind her during their game against BFA-Fairfax in the VPA Division III softball semifinals on Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in South Royalton, Vt. BFA-Fairfax won, 11-4. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news — Jennifer Hauck

  • White River Valley softball player Tanner Drury is safe at third with BFA-Fairfax player Grace Coloney at the base during the VPA Division III softball semifinal on Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in South Royalton, Vt. BFA-Fairfax won, 11-4. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/8/2021 10:31:20 PM
Modified: 6/8/2021 10:31:21 PM

SOUTH ROYALTON — White River Valley School softball enjoyed a 15-0 regular season in 2021. The Wildcats hadn’t lost since the 2019 regular season, after which they beat BFA-Fairfax to win the VPA Division III state championship.

BFA-Fairfax avenged that loss Tuesday. The fourth-seeded Bullets pulled a road upset, defeating WRV, 11-4, in a rainy semifinal to advance.

“I knew that (BFA-Fairfax’s) Taylor (Mitchell) was going to be a very fast pitcher. And we worked on it, maybe not as much as we probably should’ve,” White River Valley head coach John Rhoades said. “I knew that she was going to throw hard, and we were going to try to do some different things and try to attack some of their weaknesses. And they made more plays than we did today.”

The Bullets (14-5) took the lead right away, scoring two runs in the first off WRV senior pitcher Fiona Vaillancourt. The Wildcats (16-1) got one back in the bottom of the inning.

BFA scored three times in the top of third, and WRV answered with two in the bottom of the inning.

The Wildcats added one more in the fourth to cut the deficit to 5-4.

The fifth inning was a potential turning point. BFA scored twice and forced Vaillancourt out of the game. Senior Chelsie Trask took over with the bases loaded and nobody out, escpaing unscathed.

In the bottom of the inning, trailing 7-4, the Wildcats loaded the bases. But they stranded all three runners.

WRV left 10 runners on base for the game.

“We definitely had some chances. Just couldn’t get enough across to either tie or go ahead,” Rhoades said. “And that’s a big thing — when they make mistakes, you gotta make them pay. And we didn’t do it enough. They made the plays.”

BFA put the game away with four runs in the top of the seventh.

Senior shortstop Blake Southworth led the way for WRV at the plate, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run.

Freshman center fielder Tanner Drury finished 1-for-3 with two runs.

Mitchell pitched a complete game for BFA. Three of the four runs were earned, on five hits, four walks and one batter hit by a pitch. She racked up 11 strikeouts in the victory.

BFA head coach Geri Witalec-Krupa recalled that Tuesday’s big win occurred on the two-year anniversary of that 2019 title game where her team fell short against the Wildcats.

That game motivated the Bullets. And they knew that their previously undefeated opponents were the favorites.

“They had the momentum of 15 wins in a row on their side. I’ve been in that position as a coach — that’s a tough position to be in,” Witalec-Krupa said. “So we focused on the fact that people didn’t expect us to win this game. The pressure’s on the 15-0 team, not us. And we knew we were coming into today well-prepared. We play a stronger schedule than them in the regular season. We knew if we put together the complete package, we could come away with a win today.”

After the game ended, Rhoades told his team he was proud of them and the effort they put into this season. He shared long, emotional hugs with his seniors before they left the field.

White River Valley graduates five seniors, a class that took the Wildcats to a title in their first-ever season and enjoyed bountiful success throughout their careers.

Rhoades said it will take hard work from the rest of the program to make up for the losses and get back to this point.

“We lose five seniors, but we got some kids that played a decent amount this year,” Rhoades said. “We just gotta get some other areas finalized and work hard to get those spots. It’s going to take a lot of effort, and this group that’s returning is willing to put in the extra effort in the offseason.”

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




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