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Epping’s big bats overwhelm Woodsville in D-IV softball semis



Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, June 06, 2019

HOLDERNESS, N.H. — A silent string of bats and a trio of struggling pitching performances in the circle against a hard-hitting squad defending its NHIAA Division IV title was too much to handle for the Woodsville High softball team.

The No. 4 seeded Engineers fell to top-seeded, undefeated Epping, 13-1, in 6⅔ innings by mercy rule in the D-IV semifinals on Thursday night at Plymouth State University’s D&M Field. They managed only 1 run and five hits against crafty Epping pitcher Isabella Snyder while falling in the D-IV semis for the second consecutive season. Woodsville finished its season 14-5 overall.

“When (Woodsville starting pitcher McKenzie Dennis) doesn’t get hit early, she’s usually pretty tough to hit,” Woodsville head coach Dana Huntington said. “We do an awful lot of discussing between the two of us about pitching, about how to pitch to hitters, reactions to hitters. She works really hard.”

Epping improved to 18-0 this spring and will face No. 2 Wilton-Lyndeborough in the D-IV championship game on Saturday.

The difference, Huntington said, was his team’s lack of softball experience.

Dennis struggled out the gate, falling victim early to Epping’s hard-hitting lineup. The Blue Devils managed four runs on six hits and one walk, batting in the first inning — including a two-RBI double by Epping’s Laura Duguie followed by an RBI triple by Abby Walsh. 

“She’s one of those three-sport athletes,” Huntington said. “It’s difficult to get her in the offseason to do a lot of stuff because she’s in another season. It’s tough, but that’s part of what we do in the north. We battle as best we can.

“Maybe we can get one in another year.”

The Blue Devils added another run in the second inning and piled on two more insurance runs in the fifth, chasing Engineers starter Dennis from the circle. Dennis, a junior, gave up seven runs on nine hits, three walks and one hit batter in 5⅓ innings, striking out one. 

Woodsville freshman Mackenzie Kingsbury entered the game with runners on first and third base in the fifth inning, striking out the next two batters to get out of the inning. She finished the game having given up the final six runs in the loss.

The Engineers strung together their biggest offensive threat in the fourth inning. Leah Krull got on base with a bunt single and was driven home with an RBI single by Dennis. But Dennis was tagged out at the plate later in the inning to end the rally, putting Woodsville on the board but still down, 5-1.

But Woodsville had tons of trouble trying to solve Epping pitcher Snyder, who was deceptive with her pitches. She finished the game with six strikeouts.

“I think overall softball experience, that’s the advantage that they have being in the south,” Huntington said. “They have a lot of softball available to them in the offseason. We don’t. That’s a big thing. You know it’s an uphill battle no matter what south team you play.”

Woodsville graduates senior catcher Laura Beckley and utility players Maud McIntyre, Jordan Sargent and Harlee Gray. Huntington, however, is hopeful his team will be even hungrier after having received a taste of this stage twice in as many seasons.

“Now we’ve got a group of Plymouth-experienced girls,” Huntington said. “Hopefully now we can come back and capitalize on some of the experience that we have.”

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.