Oxbow 16, Windsor 1: Olympians’ bats provide drumbeat in quarterfinal win 

By BENJAMIN ROSENBERG

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 06-03-2023 8:50 PM

BRADFORD, Vt. — Give the Oxbow High softball team an inch, and the Olympians will take a mile.

Considering the amount of hard contact Oxbow made in Saturday’s VPA Division III quarterfinal against Windsor, the Yellowjackets played a mostly clean game. But when the visitors did make a mistake, the Olympians pounced, pounding out 19 hits in a 16-1 victory.

“These girls just go up there wanting to hit the ball each and every time,” Oxbow coach Chuck Simmons said. “Most of them are very patient, but when they see their pitch, they just go for it, and that’s what I want out of them. I want them to be able to be confident in themselves.”

The top-seeded Olympians (17-0) held just a 1-0 lead in the second inning and were seemingly about to go down in order in that frame, but a dropped fly ball in center field gave Oxbow an extra out. A bunt single and a walk followed, setting the stage for freshman second baseman Mazie Bourgeois to clear the bases with a three-run double up the alley in left-center. Her older sister, sophomore pitcher Anastase Bourgeois, then drove in Mazie with a bloop single.

The hosts kept pouring it on, scoring four more runs in both the third and fourth innings and another three in the fifth. Junior left fielder Lily Lahaye hit a solo home run to right-center to lead off the third, and freshman right fielder Braylee Phelps launched a two-run blast over the fence in left in the fourth.

All nine Oxbow starters hit safely, and seven did so multiple times. The Bourgeois sisters each had two singles and a double, and Lahaye doubled and singled in addition to her long ball.

The damage all came against Windsor freshman starter Molly Burke, who kept pounding the strike zone and issued just one walk, also striking out five batters. But on the other side, Anastase Bourgeois was her usual dominant self, striking out 14 and walking just one.

“She’s just so confident in herself,” Simmons said. “She and (senior catcher) Makenna (Simmons) are just a dynamic duo. It’s good when your pitcher has confidence in your catcher and your catcher is confident in throwing wherever she feels like. I’m very proud of those girls.”

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That said, the No. 8 seed Yellowjackets (6-12) did not lack for scoring chances. Junior first baseman Sydney Perry led off the second with a double to deep center and moved to third on a grounder back to the circle before Bourgeois struck out back-to-back hitters to escape the threat. In the third, sophomore shortstop Gianna Felice led off with a single, stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch but was stranded there as Bourgeois struck out three in a row.

Windsor also wasted freshman catcher Cassie Clark’s leadoff double in the fourth as Makenna Simmons caught her in a rundown between second and third. The Yellowjackets avoided the shutout in the sixth as Perry’s single to center brought home sophomore third baseman Brianna Barton.

“The fact that they got in the box today with some confidence made me happy,” Windsor coach Wendy Moody said. “They are starting to believe in themselves, that they can come and battle with any pitcher they see.”

The Yellowjackets started 4-4 before losing seven of their final eight regular-season games, then defeated Mill River in the first round of the playoffs in Moody’s first year leading the varsity squad. Windsor will lose seniors Ash LaVanway, Lisa Todd and Helen Ennis to graduation.

Oxbow, meanwhile, will remain home for the semifinals Tuesday against No. 4 seed Bellows Falls, a team the Olympians did not play in the regular season. A win in that game would mean another trip to Castleton University and a shot at a third consecutive state championship.

“We just make sure we play our game,” Simmons said. “Keep doing what we’re doing, staying positive, being behind each other, hitting the ball well, keeping up the solid defense. It just takes it all.”

Benjamin Rosenberg can be reached at brosenberg@vnews.com or 603-727-3302.