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Just one left for Olympians

  • Oxbow softball teammates and coaches, from left, Darcy O'Connell, Ava Smith, Chuck Simmons, Josh Allen, Alexa Kosakowski, and Aspen Longmoore, celebrate their 13-4 VPA D-III semifinal win over Windsor in Bradford, Vt., Wednesday, June 9, 2021. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Alexa Kosakowski, of Oxbow, left, turns to third base at the direction of catcher Aspen Longmoore, right, after catching a bunt by Paige Kleefisch, of Windsor, during their VPA D-III semifinal in Bradford, Vt., Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Oxbow won 13-4. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Faith Eastman, of Oxbow, rounds third base with encouragement from Coach Chuck Simmons, left, as Paige Kleefisch, of Windsor watches her teammates field the ball during their VPA D-III semifinal in Bradford, Vt., Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Eastman scored on the home run on the first at-bat after her teammate Laila Ellsworth fainted on the field. Oxbow won 13-4.(Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Emma DeGoosh, of Oxbow, left celebrates after tagging Peyton Richardson, of Windsor out at second for the final out of their VPA D-III semifinal in Bradford, Vt., Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Oxbow won 13-4.(Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/9/2021 11:30:11 PM
Modified: 6/9/2021 11:30:15 PM

BRADFORD, Vt. — All season, Oxbow High softball counted down their remaining contests.

Head coach Chuck Simmons would ask the team, “How many games you got left, girls?” And they’d respond, “Nine!” or “Seven!”

During Wednesday’s postgame team huddle, Simmons posed the question again, and the Olympians exclaimed, ‘One!’

Oxbow earned its place in that last game — the VPA Division III championship game — by defeating Windsor, 13-4, in the semifinals at home.

The game ended with senior catcher Aspen Longmoore throwing out a runner stealing second base. The Oxbow (15-1) bench erupted, and a big group hug ensued in front of the dugout. Simmons performed a celebratory cartwheel.

“These girls are something special,” Simmons said. “We battled against BFA, we battled against Lyndon, coming back from being down 5-0. These girls have a heart of gold, and they’re battlers. They’re fighters. Right to the end.”

The teams traded runs throughout the first three innings, which ended tied 3-3. Oxbow grabbed a 5-3 lead in the fourth, and held Windsor quiet in the fifth.

The bottom of the fifth rendered the game an afterthought for a few moments, when Oxbow sophomore Laila Ellsworth collapsed on the field after grounding out in a pinch-hit appearance. The Yellowjackets left the field while Ellsworth received medical attention for about five minutes. She was carried off the field and others continued tending to her in the shade behind Oxbow’s dugout.

When the game restarted, freshman Faith Eastman clobbered a home run on the first pitch to make it 6-3 for Oxbow.

“That was amazing,” Simmons said. “Faith came up, and she struggled all year long. And something just clicked with her. And it was her pitch, and she just took it.

“Adrenaline does a lot for a girl, for any kid. She took it.”

Oxbow put the game out of reach with seven runs in the sixth inning.

Longmoore finished 3-for-5 with a home run, two RBIs and three runs. Olympian freshman Hadlee Allen went 3-for-5 with a double, two RBIs and three runs. Eighth grader Anastase Bourgeois went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.

Bourgeois also shined in the circle for Oxbow. She threw a complete game, surrendering the four earned runs on seven hits and two walks with nine strikeouts.

Simmons was proud of the effort from his young player, who also battled late-game exhaustion.

“That is a big, huge spot (for an eighth grader),” Simmons said. “Towards the end, she was starting to fatigue. She came to me that last inning and said, ‘Hey, if I need a water, I’m going to let you know.’ I think it went quick enough for her to stay in it, stay focused, not have that timeout in between.”

Windsor junior Peyton Richardson pitched six innings. She gave up 10 earned runs on 12 hits, four walks and one batter hit by a pitch, along with four strikeouts. At the plate, Richardson went 2-for-4 with a run scored. Senior Alyssa Slocum was 1-for-3 with a triple and a run scored.

After the game, Windsor head coach Heather Stearns supported and comforted her players. With only three returning varsity players, the Yellowjackets had a lot of newcomers step up, and Stearns emphasized how proud she was of her team.

“I didn’t think we played our best today, and I just wanted to make sure that they knew to not let this game dictate how our season went,” Stearns said. “They had a great season. They had a tough schedule. It just wasn’t our day.

“(Oxbow) got more hits than us. We missed a couple plays that we should’ve made. And that’s the way the ball rolls today.”

The Olympians will face BFA-Fairfax in the finals. When they met in the regular season — the last game of the season — Oxbow won, 7-4.

Simmons noticed BFA head coach Geri Witalec-Krupa posted about the game on Instagram, specifically that she didn’t throw her best pitcher, Taylor Mitchell. Simmons perceived it as trash talk, and he’s using that as fuel heading into the title game.

“I’m ready to show her that just because she didn’t throw her No. 1 doesn’t mean we won’t contend with her,” Simmons said. “So she threw the game against us, I guess, throwing her No. 2, which is her catcher. So I’m OK. I want Taylor. I want her.”

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




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