2024 Upper Valley high school softball guide

Oxbow and Thetford players high five each other at the end of the Vermont Division III state championship in Castleton, Vt., on Saturday, June 10, 2023. (Glenn Russell photograph)

Oxbow and Thetford players high five each other at the end of the Vermont Division III state championship in Castleton, Vt., on Saturday, June 10, 2023. (Glenn Russell photograph) Glenn Russell

The Oxbow Olympians celebrate their victory over Thetford in the Vermont Division III state championship in Castleton, Vt., on Saturday, June 10, 2023. (Glenn Russell photograph)

The Oxbow Olympians celebrate their victory over Thetford in the Vermont Division III state championship in Castleton, Vt., on Saturday, June 10, 2023. (Glenn Russell photograph) Glenn Russell photograph

Lebanon High's Olivia Pollard leads off first base behind Hanover's Bella Hunt during the NHIAA Division II teams' April 28, 2023, game at the Dresden Fields in Norwich, Vt. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Lebanon High's Olivia Pollard leads off first base behind Hanover's Bella Hunt during the NHIAA Division II teams' April 28, 2023, game at the Dresden Fields in Norwich, Vt. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Tris Wykes

Hartford High's Serenitee Martel tags out Windsor's Brianna Barton during the team's April 18, 2023, game in Windsor, Vt. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission.

Hartford High's Serenitee Martel tags out Windsor's Brianna Barton during the team's April 18, 2023, game in Windsor, Vt. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission.

Hadlee Allen

Hadlee Allen Name here—Tris Wykes

Natalee Pettersen

Natalee Pettersen Name here—Tris Wykes

Miranda Rogers

Miranda Rogers Name here—BigZig Photography

Staff report

Published: 04-19-2024 4:15 PM

When it comes to Upper Valley high school softball, one program stirs the proverbial championship drink.

In three years under coach Chuck Simmons, Oxbow High has reeled off 49 wins in 53 games and raced relatively unimpeded to state honors each time. Expect the Olympians to be at or near the top of VPA Division III again, paced by junior pitcher Anastase Bourgeois.

Elsewhere, Newport and Thetford are planning deeper tourney runs after fine seasons in 2023. Hartford also has the potential to challenge in VPA D-II after earning the program’s first No. 1 seed in last year’s postseason.

Here’s a look at the teams:

HANOVER

Coach: Megan Sobel (second season).

Last year: 2-14, missed trournament.

League: NHIAA Division II.

Returnees: Seniors — Abby Campfield (IF, OF), Emma Campfield (SS), Bella Hunt (IF, OF), Jessie Lobb (P, IF), Rhea Veerareddy (IF, OF), Sophie Wise (OF, C); Juniors — Clancy Killebrew (OF), Lily Smith (C), Kit Tullar (IF); Sophomore — Ellenora Cary (OF).

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Newcomers: Senior — Evelyn Maitre (IF); Freshmen — Joanna Burjarski (IF, OF), Malia Pratt (OF), Giavanna Schembri (OF).

Outlook: Optimism blooms with the Bears, who return their entire roster from last season. “Players have put in work during the offseason and are ready to show their growth and potential,” said Sobel, a former college player from the softball hotbed of Santa Ana, Calif. “The team is poised for significant improvement.”

HARTFORD

Coach: Danielle Tenney (4).

Last year: 14-4, lost to Middlebury in state semifinals.

League: VPA Division II.

Returnees: Seniors — Logan Evans (1B), Harper Robinson (C), Rebecca Keelty (2B), Madison Willey (SS), Miranda Rogers (RF); Junior — Paige Vielleux (LF); Sophomores — Serenitee Martel (P), Faith Brown (3B, C), Madylyn Matheson (CF).

Newcomers: Sophomore — Madelin Crowley (SS, P); Freshman — Sylvia Johnson (1B, OF).

Outlook: Hartford earned the division playoffs’ top seeding for the first time in program history last season before losing to Middlebury in the semifinals. “We want to keep the momentum going and push ourselves this year against a competitive schedule,” said Tenney, whose only loss was graduated starting pitcher Marina Grassi. “We hope to make history again this year.”

LEBANON

Coach: Matt Kaercher (1).

Last year: 3-12, missed tournament.

League: NHIAA Division II.

Returnees: Seniors — Olivia Pollard (C, IF, OF), Abby Braley (P, IF), Emma Allen (P, IF, OF), Nitara Murray (P, IF); Juniors — Rya Wykes (P, IF, OF), Sophomores — Savannah Theriault (IF, OF), Andy Lindquist (IF, C), Ava Kaercher (P, IF, OF).

Newcomers: Sophomores — Ella Reichert (C, IF), Annella Marsh (IF, OF), Colbie Fratzen (P, IF, OF), Madelyn Sanville (OF), Reagan DiDomenico (IF, OF); Freshmen — Avelina Pentella (P, IF, OF), Anna Harrington (C, IF, OF), Amy Dixon-Vestal (IF, OF), Catheryn Batchelder (P, IF, OF).

Outlook: Ava Kaercher struck out more than 100 batters last year after arriving from Arizona. She’s likely to toss 75% of Lebanon’s defensive innings. If Wykes and Murray can throw strikes and receive capable defense during the remainder, the Raiders could avoid the run-rule routs of the past. Pitches reaching the backstop have been a particular bugaboo during recent seasons. Years of lackluster coaching appear to have ended with Matt Kaercher’s arrival. The onetime college baseball player and U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel conducts organized practices focused on fundamentals and situational awareness. Lebanon, which features three new outfield starters, is 14-98 during the past seven campaigns.

MASCOMA

Coach: Danielle Pushee (1).

Last Year: 0-16, missed tournament.

League: NHIAA Division III.

Returnees: Seniors — Natalee Pettersen (IF, P), Sophia Taylor (IF), Alyssa Webster (IF, P); Juniors — Anna Sullivan, (C, IF), Lilly Gunnerson (OF); Sophomores — Makenna Houston (IF, P), Aubrey Meyveagaci (C, OF), Sara McKinney (IF), Aaralyn Chiasson (IF, P).

Newcomers: Senior — Kylie Rogers (OF, P); Freshmen — Ryleigh Giguere (OF), Isabell Davis (OF, IF, P), Aaliyah Muzzey (IF, OF), Kiley Herdt (OF), Charlotte Adams (OF), Miyu McNamara (OF).

Outlook: “There is strong leadership in the returning players,” Pushee said. “They have taken a fresh look at the new season and new coaches and are wanting to get better and experience some success before they leave school.”

NEWPORT

Coach: Stanley Hannum (2).

Last Year: 16-2, lost to Gilford in Division III quarterfinals.

League: NHIAA Division III.

Returnees: Seniors — Emmah O’Connor (C), Tanya Sanchez (P, SS), Katie Sharron (OF), Rachel LeFrancois (OF); Juniors — Lexi Durgin (1B), Peyton Blackinton (2B), Cheyenne Hannum (3B, P), Cassie Sanborn (OF), Natasha Carpenter (OF, C), Erica Sayer (OF).

Newcomers: Sophomore — Zoey Lord (P, SS); Freshman — Alicia Urista (OF, C).

Outlook: The Tigers return eight starters and should be a strong contender to make the semifinals in Division III. “We have a strong pitching trio with Sanchez, Lord and Cheyenne,” said Stanley Hannum, whose team lost to Gilford in last year’s division quarterfinals. “We should be solid in all phases of the game.” Sanchez has committed to play at NCAA Division II University of Bridgeport (Conn.).

OXBOW

Coach: Chuck Simmons (4).

Last year: 19-0, won third straight state championship.

League: VPA Division III.

Returnees: Seniors — Hadlee Allen (CF), Faith Eastman (3B), Lily Lahaye (LF), Lillian DeGoosh (OF), Aivree Bruce (OF); Juniors — Anastase Bourgeois (P, IF), Maggi Ellsworth (SS), Caleigh Bean (IF, OF); Sophomore — Mazie Bourgeois (C, IF), Braylee Phelps (RF), Noemi Rosa (P, IF).

Newcomers: Freshmen — Abby Longto (C, IF), Brooke Osgood (P, IF).

Outlook: The Olympians roared to their third consecutive state title last spring, and Simmons said he believes his freshmen can mostly offset graduation losses. Bourgeois struck out 19 batters during last season’s playoff semifinals and followed that by fanning 16 of 21 Thetford Panthers in the title game.

STEVENS

Coach: Missy Nichols (24).

Last year: 8-8, lost in first round.

League: NHIAA Division III.

Returnees: Seniors — Mariah O’Connell (OF), Kylie Bundy (SS, P), Elise Smith (3B, OF), Alana O’Connell (IF, OF); Juniors — Mia Herbert (P), Brianna Marsh (CF), Rhea Quick (IF, OF); Sophomores — Bailee St. Sauveur (C), Anna Aiken (3B, 1B).

Newcomers: Freshmen — Olivia St. Aubin (P, IF, OF), Kiersten Bartley (IF, OF), Callie Demars (OF), Hailee Mae Denneen (OF), Hailey Magill (OF), Chloe Smith (OF).

Outlook: Stevens can rely on experience in Bundy, Hebert and St. Sauveur and flexibility with Quick, Marsh and Elise Smith all able to play infield or outfield.

THETFORD

Coach: Michelle Morgan (3).

Last year: 11-7, lost in state final to Oxbow.

League: VPA Division III.

Returnees: Juniors — Paige Trembly (P, 3B), McKayla Stanley (P), Elea Morgan (C), Grace Elmer (OF), Rebecca Osgood (SS), Elizabeth Waterman (OF); Sophomore — Natalie Perry (CF).

Newcomers: Senior — Iris Morand (OF); Sophomores — Izabella Murphy (2B), Layliana Benjamin (C, 1B), Device Tarmey (OF); Freshmen — Autumn Powers (1B, OF), Liza Taylor (IF, OF).

Outlook: After reaching last year’s division title game, the Panthers must rebuild, although Morgan says she expects them to “place high in the standings again this season.”

WHITE RIVER VALLEY

Coach: John Rhoades (4).

Last year: 3-14, lost in first round.

League: VPA Division III.

Returnees: Seniors — Tanner Drury (IF, OF, P), Madasin Kill (IF), Sadie Kinsley (OF), Abigail Rainville (OF), Isabell Ashley (IF); Sophomores — Ava Patch (IF), Vanessa Crawford (P, OF), Tess Ballou (IF, P), Olivia Tuller (IF), Mackenzie Vesper (C, OF), Abigail Jarvis (OF, P).

Newcomers: Senior — Effrosini Makris (C, IF); Sophomore — Rhianna Young (IF, C). Freshman — Morgan Caron (P, IF).

Outlook: The Wildcats have gone 4-30 the last two seasons after posting a 16-1 record during the 2021 campaign. The sophomore class, which numbered a dozen as freshmen, has returned only half that number.

WINDSOR

Coach: Wendy Moody (2).

Last year: 6-12, lost to Oxbow in quarterfinals.

League: VPA Division III.

Returnees: Seniors — Maja Thomas (OF), Sydney Perry (IF), Amber Simonds (IF); Juniors — Gianna Felice (IF), Piper Vivian (OF, P), Matteson Tenney (OF), Bri Barton (IF); Sophomores — Hannah Tenney (IF, OF), Cassie Clark (C), Molly Burke (P), Mackenzie Kleefisch (IF, OF), Emma Sauer (IF, OF).

Newcomers: Junior — Latisha Gibson (OF); Sophomore — Anna Bergeron (OF); Freshmen — Abigail Brown (C, OF), Olivia Dube (IF, OF), Sophia Dufour (OF), Jaylin Lyman (IF), Izzie Mouser (C, IF).

Outlook: “We had a few winnable games that slipped away last season, so we are looking to finish games better this year,” said Moody, whose team lost to eventual division champion in the playoffs’ first round. “Many of the players on the team are multisport athletes and know what it takes to win, and are hungry to go deep in the playoffs.”

WOODSTOCK

Coach: Angela Allard (3).

Last year: 4-9, lost in first round.

League: VPA Division III.

Returnees: Seniors — Charley Crowley (P, IF), Laura Hendee (IF); Juniors — Lucia Rullo (IF, OF); Sophomores — Cameron Allard (P, IF), Kaitlyn Burres (OF), Caleigh Webb (C, OF); Freshman — Amelia Hurd (IF).

Newcomers: Junior — Sammy Gomes (C, OF); Sophomores — May Alexander (OF), Harmony Johnson (OF), Eleanor Williams (OF); Freshmen — Aiyana Johnson (IF, OF), Abigail Eaglestone (IF, OF), Teagan Palazzo (IF, OF), Madison Snide (IF, OF).

Outlook: Woodstock is 10-15 under Angela Allard, who describes this season’s group as “a promising young team.” Three seniors graduated after last season, including standout pitcher and infielder Jordan Allard. Last year’s roster featured three eighth graders and five freshmen, but only four of those players returned. Woodstock’s game field, although one of the prettiest settings in the state for its wooded surroundings, is annually one of the last to completely dry, meaning the Wasps rarely get many practices on it before opening day.