By WYNN PARADEE
SWANTON — It was feast or famine for the Thunderbirds in Friday’s softball game against Essex at The Pit.
Offensively, Missisquoi put seven runs on 13 hits up on the board against the undefeated Hornets. Defensively, too many walks, errors, pitching behind in the count, and mental mistakes resulted in Essex (12-0) notching 16 runs in its 16-7 victory.
It was a case of whatever could go wrong, did go wrong for MVU (9-3).
“One of those games,” admitted coach Jay Hartman. “Really no explanation. They jumped on us early, and never took their foot off our throat. We couldn’t shut them down, couldn’t get their leadoff hitter out.”
The Hornets scored in every inning except the second and built a 7-0 lead through four.
Missisquoi had only one runner until the fourth, when it broke through for two runs. It started with Sarah Harvey’s double with one out, followed by Emily Bourdeau’s triple to drive in Harvey. Caylin Bessette’s fly ball to center drove in Bourdeau, and faint hope of a comeback was in the air. That was dashed when Essex scored three in the fifth to make it 10-2.
By the sixth inning, the Thunderbirds were going through the lineup for the third time and began to tee off on Hornet pitcher Caitlin Toth. With two outs, Harvey hit a ball where nobody could catch it, well over the center-field fence for a solo home run. Bourdeau followed with a double, went to third on Bessette’s single, and scored on a Mae Gates single for MVU’s fourth run.
The problem for the Thunderbirds is that Essex was still scoring, and by the time the bottom of the seventh rolled around it was 16-4.
It would have been easy to mail in the last inning down by 12. Instead, the Thunderbirds batted around and scored the final three runs. McKenna Conley and Emmery Dunphy singled and were on first and second with two outs when, even with the lopsided score, Essex opted to intentionally walk Harvey.
Bourdeau (3-for-4, 3 RBI) responded to the move by driving one up the middle to score two runs. Then Bessette (3-for-3) followed with an infield single, and Gates drove in Harvey with another hit.
“The more we are able to do behind her, the less that will happen,” Hartman said. “Sarah would have pitched today, but she injured her finger yesterday in warmups. This was our third game in three days, and playing a good team like Essex you don’t get a lot of second chances.
Photos by Josh Kaufmann, CVNG.