Sports, Sports Nuggets

Strong’s Bomb Sends Rice to Final Four

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photo by Vanessa Fournier
Seniors on Craftsbury’s softball team included (from left) Haley Smith, Sophia Augsberger and Sadie Skorstad of Craftsbury and Sarah Collier of Hazen Union.

MIDDLEBURY – After breezing through Springfield in the first round, the Rice Memorial softball team rode the big bat of Finley Strong to upset fourth-seeded Middlebury in the quarterfinals of the Division II state tournament last week.

Strong, daughter of Hazen Union alum Jeff Strong, powered the Green Knight offense to an 11-0 win Tuesday against Springfield with a pair of doubles and an RBI. Alayna Havreluk twirled a complete game shutout, striking out 10 on the day.

Strong capped off a red-hot spring with her biggest blast of the season on Thursday, connecting on a game winning solo shot in the top of the seventh to power Rice into the semifinals with a 3-2 road win at Middlebury. Havreluk tossed another complete game gem, striking out six to help the Green Knights beat Middlebury for the first time in three tries this season.

Strong carries her team into the Final Four on an absolute tear at the plate. The junior captain has 13 hits in her last 21 at bats, including four home runs in the last six games.

Rice traveled to top seeded Enosburg on Tuesday for a chance to advance to the state title game. Second-seeded Lyndon Institute hosted sixth-seeded Milton in the other semifinal match-up.

Lady Chargers Wrap up Season

CRAFTSBURY – The Craftsbury Academy (CA) softball team’s four game winning streak was snapped last week with a disappointing 3-2 home loss to CCSU.

Head Coach Ashley Gravel had her team playing their best ball of the season the past two weeks after a season long process of meshing together players from CA, Hazen Union, and Peoples Academy.

The Lady Chargers’ turnaround from a 0-7 start to hosting a playoff game at Dustan Field last week was improbable just a couple weeks ago. Gravel will lose Sadie Skorstad, Sophia Augsberger, Haley Smith, and Hazen’s Sarah Collier to graduation, but interest in the program continues to grow at all three schools, and she is excited for the future of the program.

“This season, what can I say? We made it! The proof is in the pudding as they say, this group of girls really came together at the end of the season, working together like a well-oiled machine. We worked through some kinks along the way, but they worked hard for everything they earned this season. I am extremely sad to be losing my seniors, they didn’t get enough time with this team, and we’ll miss them. I am excited for the core group coming back next season and I’m hearing good vibes from the other schools about athletes wanting to possibly join the program next season. That’s exciting and makes us feel good about what we’re doing here at CA. I’m proud of the girls this year and I’m excited for next season!” said Gravel.

Burr and Burton Ends Colchester’s Run

MANCHESTER – Second-seeded Burr and Burton Academy ended the playoff run of fifth-seeded Colchester and Vermont Gatorade Player of the Year Zach Davis last week in the Division I baseball playoffs.

The Lakers clipped Burlington 5-3 in the first round on Tuesday behind a pair of hits and two RBIs from Davis. On Saturday, Ryan Kramer’s two-run double in the third inning off Davis, proved to be the game winner as second seeded Burr and Burton advanced to the Final Four with a 2-1 win. Davis had two more hits and took the loss on the mound, scattering nine hits over five plus innings, while striking out eight.

Davis is the son of former Craftsbury Academy great Jeff Davis and will play for the Lake Monsters this summer before attending Bryant University in the fall on a baseball scholarship.

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