QUARTERFINAL UPSET SENDS ROCKETS TO SEMIS

By Ruthie Laroche
For the County Courier

The Rockets spent six hours on a bus Friday, but for Head Coach Jim Bose and the Richford athletes that made the trip, it was a day well spent. 

Richford, the fifth seed in Division III, traveled to Chester to face fourth-seeded Green Mountain, hoping for an upset to keep their season alive.  

“The Rockets played their hearts out,” said Bose, smiling after the game. 

Lagging just one run behind their opponents in the final inning of the game, Rocket catcher, Abigail Adams, launched a  two-run home run, propelling the Rockets to a 4-3 win. “Abigail wasn’t the only hero in this game,” Bose noted, “all 13 girls, including four freshman JV players, had something to bring to this win!”

Green Mountain scored first,  putting two runs on the board in the fourth inning. 

The Rockets answered in the sixth when Adams singled and Hayley Snider walked. Hanna Hurtubise singled scoring Adams. 

Freshman, Madison Johnson, who was pinch-hitting, hit a line drive to right field, scoring Snider and tying the game. In the bottom of the sixth Green Mountain’s strongest hitter, launched a ball to the outfield. Rocket center fielder, Christine Greenwood, made the catch.  

With two outs, Green Mountain batters reached base on singles and scored, bringing the score to 3-2 in their favor. Richford pitcher Katie Rotunno singled in the top of the seventh, giving the Rockets a much-needed base runner. With Rotunno on base, Adams stepped to the plate and hit the home run that would eventually secure the win.  

Rotunno returned to the mound in the seventh, pitching to three batters who each grounded out, one to Rocket third baseman Austin Archambault, one to second baseman Hanna Hurtubise and one back to Rotunno who made the final game-winning play. 

“Katie pitched an awesome, complete game getting ten strikeouts, two walks, and only three hits!” said Bose, still enjoying the thrill of the upset. 

Adams finished  3-4, including a double and the game-winning home run; Hanna Hurtubise collected two hits. Richford batters had a total of ten hits in the game.  

“The Rockets played with heart and determination and clearly wanted this game! I’m very proud of these girls!” said Bose. “I told the girls they all have ‘it’ and to bring ‘it’ to the game and play their hearts out! They did just that!”

Richford will be facing number one seeded BFA Fairfax on Tuesday, June 4 at 4:30 pm in Fairfax.

WALKOFF RUN PROPELS ‘BIRDS TO SEMIS

By Ruthie Laroche
For the County Courier

SWANTON: The Thunderbirds will be hosting a semi-final game, thanks to the grit and determination the team displayed on Friday night.

 MVU, seeded second, hosted ten seed, Rutland, narrowly escaping an upset. The Thunderbirds, who took only one loss during the regular season, proved that they have what it takes to earn a win in a close game.

The second-seeded Thunderbirds pose for a team photo after defeating tenth-seeded Rutland in Friday’s Quarterfinal game in Swanton. Gregory J. Lamoureux, County Courier

 “They made us work really hard, and they gave us an opportunity to have one of those games where we get a chance to measure ourselves and see if we are worthy of moving on,” said MVU head coach Jay Hartman. “Fortunately, we were able to do that in the bottom half of the seventh inning.”

 The two teams exchanged the lead multiple times during the game; Sarah Harvey recounted Hartman’s words of wisdom as the Thunderbirds pushed through the tough contest. 

 “He told us that if we wanted to keep playing, we had to win every inning,” noted Sarah, who was named the Vermont Gatorade Player of the Year this week.

 Heading into the bottom of the seventh, the teams were knotted at seven runs apiece. 

MVU’s Emily Graham stretches to secure the catch at First base, getting the out during Friday’s Quarterfinal game against tenth-seeded Rutland. Rachel N. Lamoureux, County Courier

 MVU was down to their last out when a close call at first gave MVU new life. Madison Conley hit a single and outran the throw to first. 

 “Madison is an amazing kid. We watched her during the hockey championship this year; she’s gutsy, she’s gritty, she finds a way to get it done,” said Hartman of his sophomore catcher. 

 “Natalee delivered with a hit in the gap in left, advancing Conley and putting the T-Birds in scoring position. Ellie Bourdeau came to the plate for MVU, hitting a ball toward third. A bad hop sent the ball into the outfield, allowing Conley to score on the walk-off.” 

 “It was textbook, exactly what you’d hope for,” said Sarah Harvey. 

 Both Harvey sisters threw for MVU with Sarah earning the win. Sarah tossed the final three innings, combining with starter Natalee for 12 strikeouts. 

Natalee Harvey throwing a strike in the Quarterfinal game against Rutland on Friday. Rachel N. Lamoureux, County Courier

 This year the two sisters are playing their final season together. 

 “They’re two different players,” said Shannon Harvey of her daughters. “They have equally, incredible strength and I love how they love each other. Natalee has said a couple of times that she hates that this season is going to end.”

 Thankfully, the Thunderbirds will play another game. 

 “I was impressed with the way the team kept battling back. Rutland played extremely well. They sacrificed and bunted people into scoring position, and they had three big hits,” said Hartman. 

 Rutland had two, two-out hits that scored two runs in both the fourth and the sixth innings, and a home run in the top of the seventh that scored two more. 

Senior Sarah Harvey prepares to tag a Rutland player attempting to steal second base in Friday’s Quarterfinal at Missisquoi. Rachel N. Lamoureux, County Courier

 Hartman noted that one of the strengths he’s seen in this years’ team comes in their flexibility, which was on display on Friday.

 “Henry Ford has nothing on interchangeable parts when it comes to us,” said Hartman. “We have fourteen girls on the team this year, so everyone has needed to learn multiple positions. The kids know that if we decide to do certain things, it’s going to move people around, and they’ve become very comfortable and very adept at it.” 

 Bill Sheets, the pitching coach for MVU, also complimented the team.

 “They’ve really gelled, and we have a lot of leadership throughout the team.”

 Hartman, who has over three decades of experience at the helm, enjoys the post season. 

The Thunderbirds congratulate Freshman Alexandra Brouillette as she evened the score 1-1 with her Home Run during Friday’s Quarterfinal with tenth-seeded Rutland. Rachel N. Lamoureux, County Courier

 “This a fun group, and we’re not ready for the season to end yet,” said Hartman. “This was a gutsy win, and hopefully, it’s something we can build on and move forward.” 

 The Thunderbirds will face Lyndon Institute at home on Tuesday at 4:30 pm. 

HORNETS SQUEEK OUT WIN, OVERCOME THUNDERBIRDS’ ENERGY

The second-seeded Enosburg Hornets celebrate their win Friday evening over the seventh-seeded Thunderbirds of Missisquoi, advancing to the D-II semifinals Tuesday when they host third-seeded Fair Haven. Caleb Laroche photo

By Ruthie Laroche
For the County Courier

 The Thunderbird and Hornet baseball teams faced off Friday night in a rare, in-county playoff contest, both vying for a semi-final berth. 

 Mississquoi put two runs on the board in the first inning; the Hornets answered in the bottom of the first when Nik Sabrowski drove in Karson Fortin. Dylan Pattee drove in Sabrowski, the tying run, on a two-out single. 

 The Thunderbirds came back in the second, scoring on a hard hit ball by Robert Boucher.

 The teams traded the lead over the next five innings, with MVU holding a precarious one-run lead as the Hornets came to bat in the bottom of the seventh. 

 The Hornets tied the game early in the half inning. David Antillon scorched a no-out double, Pattee was intentionally walked, eventually reaching second while Antillon was caught stealing.

 Chase Joyal, who noted he’s been struggling with his at-bats the last few games, came to the plate for the Hornets. 

 Avery Feeley, who threw all seven for the Thunderbirds, worked Joyal into a 2-2 count. 

 Joyal saw his pitch and launched a hard-hit ball down the third base line to score Pattee and earn Enosburg the 6-5 quarterfinal win.

 “I knew I needed to do something; we had the winning run at second,” said Joyal, “My legs were shaking; I hit the ball and just hoped it wasn’t going to go foul. I rounded first, got to second, and I realized I’d just hit a walk-off!”

 Pattee, who crossed the plate with the game-winning run, complimented Joyal’s at-bat. 

 “Chase kept fouling them off and fouling them off and then he hit that bomb to left field on the fence. I was halfway between second and third, and Coach told me I had to get on my horse!” said Pattee, laughing. 

 Enosburg head coach, Rodney Burns, who was doused with water during the interview, smiled as he recounted his team’s grit. 

 “We kept battling throughout the whole game; we’d go down a couple of runs, and then we’d come back up. The guys never gave up. We put the bat on the ball and scored two runs in the last inning,” said Enosburg head coach Rodney Burns. “Overall, I couldn’t ask for a better group. They’ve been amazing all season long.” 

 Nik Saborowski started the game for the Hornets on the mound, going six innings and allowing five hits, two walks, and three strikeouts. Jacob Parent entered as a relief pitcher in the seventh.

 Avery Feeley took the loss for the T-birds, however, pitched a strong game, going six and one-third innings, allowing eight hits and striking out five.

 “Avery kept his pitch count low; he pitched with good rhythm. He’s been our rock on the mound this year for sure,” said MVU head coach Roy Sargent. 

 Offensively, for Enosburg, Dylan Pattee went 2-3 with an RBI and scored the winning run. David Antillon doubled, and Nik Saborowski added a hit and an RBI. Chase Joyal singled in the seventh for the walk-off hit. Shea Howrigan, Karson Fortin, and Brandon Parent each had hits.

 Avery Feeley led the Thunderbirds with two hits. Bobby Boucher added a hit and an RBI for MVU, while Jackson Porter and Adam Rice each had one. 

 “It was nice to get the two runs in the first. We came ready to play and jumped right on them. The game was a battle the whole way through,” said Sargent. “I think both teams were mirror images of each other tonight.”

 The Hornets will host the semi-final game on Tuesday at 4:30 pm in Enosburg. 

 “It all comes down to this–the team behind us, the fans here tonight, that’s what it’s all about. It’s amazing to have everybody behind us,” said Pattee. 

SIX LOCAL TEAMS IN THE TOP FOUR OF THEIR DIVISION

By Gregory J. Lamoureux
County Courier

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was updated Monday morning after the official tournament pairings were announced.

The regular season has closed for High School sports and five local teams have made it into the top four slots within their division.

Here’s a rundown on how each team finished the regular season, including who they will take on in the postseason. The official pairings and schedules were posted Monday morning by the Vermont Principals’ Association, here, and will be updated as the tournament continues.

BFA FAIRFAX

Baseball

Finishing 11th in their division, the BFA Fairfax Baseball program experienced a growing year with a final record of 3-12. They will travel to #6 Oxbow on Wednesday in the first round of the tournament.

Softball

Despite practicing only a handful of days outside this year due to weather constraints, the Bullets’ Softball program went 14-2 for the season, losing only twice, both to Missisquoi, one of the best teams in the state this year.

The Bullets earned the top spot in Division III, earning a bye to the quarterfinals later this week. The winner of #8 Peoples and #9 Williamstown will travel to Fairfax on Friday to take on the Bullets in the quarterfinals.

BFA ST. ALBANS

Baseball

The Bobwhites find themselves ranked 15th in a tough Division I this year, picking up four wins in the season while dropping 10 games.

On Wednesday the #15 Bobwhites will travel to #2 Burr and Burton.

Softball

The Comets fought hard for a fourth seed this year, finishing 12-3 for the season. The Comets are will take on the 13th seeded from Middlebury on Tuesday afternoon. The Comets did not play Middlebury in the regular season.

Boys Lacrosse

Picking up the second rank in Boys’ Lacrosse, the Bobwhites finished with a record of 12-2, dropping to Essex by one goal and the defending champions, CVU by eight.

The Bobwhites picked up a bye in the first round of the playoffs, advancing to the quarterfinals on Friday when they host the winner of #10 Mt. Anthony at #7 South Burlington. The game begins at 4 pm.

Girls Lacrosse

Finishing 6th out of 14 teams, the Comets’ Lacrosse team earned a record of 9-5 for the season. The Comets will host the 11th seeded MMU Cougars on Tuesday, with a game start of 4 pm. The Cougars are a team that the Comets beat when they played at home as well as away.

ENOSBURG

Baseball

Finishing the regular season with a record of 11-2, the Hornets earned the number two seed in the postseason. That positioning pairs the Hornets up with #15 Woodstock in the first round of the playoffs on Tuesday, in Enosburg at 4:30.

Coming off a loss to Division 3 Peoples Academy, the Hornets are looking for vengeance.

Softball

The Lady Hornets take the third seed in D2 Softball. With that, the Hornets up with the 14th ranked Yellowjackets of Milton for the opening round on Tuesday at 4:30.

MISSISQUOI

Baseball

The Thunderbirds picked up a big 2-1 win last week against Middlebury, placing Missisquoi in the middle of the pack going into the playoffs with a #7 seed. The Thunderbirds will be hosting #10 Montpelier in the first round of the playoffs on Tuesday at 4:30.

Softball

Finishing with only one loss, the Thunderbirds take the second seed going into the tournament and will host 15th seeded North County on Wednesday at 4:30.

Despite beating top-seeded Essex two weeks ago, the Thunderbirds’ second seed comes with a calculation of average index points. Third-seeded Lyndon finished undefeated for the season but played only two DI schools

RICHFORD

Baseball

With Richford’s sole win coming at the heals of Twinfield a week and a half ago, the #14 Falcons will travel to #3 Vergennes on Wednesday to begin the postseason.

Softball

Finishing the season 8-5, the Rockets are looking for a rebirth this week with a #5 seed, which gives the Rockets a bye into the quarterfinals, at which point they will travel to #4 Green Mountain in the quarterfinals.

YELLOWJACKETS DOWN HORNETS

In a mid-season Division 2 showdown, the Yellowjackets slowly pulled away from the Hornets Thursday evening to a final score of 63-45.

Ian Jennings knocked in a game-high 27 points, including 18 from beyond the arc to propel Milton over Enosburg, while Ethan Williams picked up 21 points for the Hornets.

Continue reading “YELLOWJACKETS DOWN HORNETS”

RECOUNTING A THUNDERBIRD DYNASTY

Todd Raleigh (left) talks to his son Cal (right) on the bench during a game. Photo courtesy of Todd Raleigh

By Ruthie Laroche
For the County Courier

This summer the Raleigh family, both in Vermont and in North Carolina, had much to celebrate as Todd Raleigh’s son Cal earned a third-round pick in the Major League Baseball draft.

Todd’s roots run deep in Franklin County, where he, his brothers, and his cousins, along with a whole gang of kids, grew up playing baseball on the fields of Franklin County.

“I don’t think anything like we all grew up with will happen again. The core of the teams that went on to win three state championships, well, 95 percent of us grew up within a mile radius of each other,” said Todd, “We played thousands of games together.”

The love of baseball in the Raleigh family and in the town of Swanton went farther back than the group of boys that Todd grew up with.

“My Dad was in a state championship at St. Anne’s in the fifties as a freshman. And a bunch of the others we grew up with had dads who had played. It was a unique situation we had.”

Todd recalls the baseball culture that was alive in Swanton at the time.

“We were a tight group long before we went to high school. We were lucky to have some good players, but we also played so much,” said Todd, “and nobody told us we weren’t supposed to win. It was embedded in us.”

Todd’s older brother John was also part of a strong group of baseball-loving guys.

“John played in three state titles in a row and they won two of three,” said Todd, “My brother Matt and I went to the MVU title game as 10 year-olds; we were bat boys on those teams. There were great players on those teams: Jamie Boudreau, the Corbieres, my brother. We idolized those guys growing up!”

A few years later Todd and Matt made history with their teammates.

“We had a lot of great players: Robby Eldridge, Pat Bose, Brian Nutting, Chris Coleman and Donny Broillette. How many Vermont high schools have four or five future Division I college players on their roster at a time?”

Aside from the sheer talent of the players on the teams during his high school years, there was something much deeper that knitted the experience together.

“Our love for the game and the amount we played set us apart. We didn’t know what we were doing as far as the specialness of it. We just showed up and played,” said Todd, “It was born on the sandlot.”

When school got out the boys met at the field and divvied up players. Yankee fans went to one side and Red Sox fans went to the other.

“Fortunately for the Red Sox, all the Raleighs were Red Sox fans,” said Todd with a chuckle,” that kind of tipped it in our favor.”

The field most often used for games was at the Swanton Central School. The boys would ride their bikes to the school and play some kind of baseball.

“We played there until we started breaking windows,” said Todd with a laugh, “Mary Babcock didn’t like that. We had to come up with money to replace the windows. Once we consistently started reaching the school we had to change to a tennis ball.”

The boys weren’t deterred by the need to change style, and all those years on the ball field paid some bit dividends.

“That’s what separated us; we had good athletes and we played a lot. It gave us a lot of experience,” said Todd, “The kids I later went to college with played 30 or 40 regular season games. I played only 12 to14. I was supposed to be so far behind, but I wasn’t. Coach Leggett, who was at Western Carolina, thought I was a very instinctive player, and I was. We all were.”

The years of ‘sandlot’ baseball prepared Todd and the gang for a very memorable high school career, and folks in Franklin County who spent time on the sideline during in the 80’s still talk about those times.

“In the close state championships games, we had what we needed from the organic ball that we played,” said Todd.

Before high school, Todd and his brother Matt played for Swanton Little League, Babe Ruth, and MVU. There were no travel teams, no baseball camps, and no special clinics to attend.

“Sandlot: that’s as close to my childhood as I can find; that was our experience in the Swanton Village. Bellrose, Paxman, Brouillette, Eldridge, Coleman, Spaulding, everybody on the team was in the village except for Kevin Boudreau. In the state tournament games in high school, every good pitcher was from the Village. As we got better we drew more kids in from Franklin and Highgate,” explained Raleigh. 

The team that won in 1986 had a mere ten players, and that group earned a win against Burlington. MVU competed and won state championships in ‘86, ‘87 (against BFA), ‘88 (Mount Anthony).  Success brought more guys out, and the wins kept rolling.

“It was what we had and what we did,” said Todd, “We had the right mix.”

Todd and Matt competed in Divsion I, and their older brother John’s teams competed in DII. John’s teams made title runs in ‘79, ‘80, and ‘81.

“I have full confidence that when MVU had the great teams with John they could have won at any level,” said Todd, “They were loaded.”

Todd recalled his MVU coaches Larry Trombley for baseball and Joe Malley for basketball, as well as Dan Marlow who was serving as athletic director during those years.

“Dan was a tremendous mentor to me and many others. He and the coaches helped to mold us into men, just as they did with many others,” said Todd.

Looking back over his youth, Todd highlighted some of the qualities that made his home state special to him.

“Vermont is unique in a lot of ways. You wouldn’t trade it for anything, the size of communities and schools, and the tightness in the community is there.”

Todd chuckled as he recalled his childhood years in Swanton when no one had cell phones, but every four-digit telephone number of a friend was burned in his memory.

“Those are the things that I remember, and they are some of the best memories,” said Todd, “I can remember those numbers from 40 years ago. It was how we got the game going.”

During Todd’s years’ success against rival BFA St. Albans was at its peak. 

“We never lost to BFA once in baseball. We had two Legion or Senior Babe Ruth teams in Swanton at one time, and there were two in St. Albans as well,” said Todd. 

Today Franklin County Fields one American Legion baseball team and one, maybe two Senior Babe Ruth teams depending on the year.

“I bet a lot of people wouldn’t believe there were two Senior Babe Ruth teams in Swanton unless they lived it. Bill Sheets and Richard Raleigh coached the two teams,” said Todd, “and we played a lot more in summer than in high school.”

Little League battles were a given in the Raleigh house when Matt and Todd were young.

At that time, Little League had a rule that stated that teams ‘Can’t pit brother against brother,’ but Swanton Little League wouldn’t let Todd and Matt play on the same team.

The two brothers went head to head time and time again, and Todd recalled one game in particular.

“Matt was 11 and I was 12; our brother John was the umpire. We both struck out 17 batters and we both hit a home run,” said Todd, “That game was probably pretty gut-wrenching for our parents. The game ended in a one to one tie. We settled that game that night in the backyard. We both claim to have won; we were very competitive.”

Looking back, Todd credits his mom as being the ‘glue’ that held it all together.

“Without her none of this would have ever happened.”

Speaking of his relationship with Matt, Todd chucked as he recounted their younger days.

“We were fierce. We’d drop the gloves and throw punches. Raleigh’s don’t like to lose.”

Todd also marveled at the guys he’s had the opportunity to play with, and some of the very best were his brothers.

“Matt and John were both once in a generation players. Matt was possibly one of the greatest players in Vermont history with his success in pro ball, high school, and college. He was an All American. He pitched three wins in three state championships and hit three to four home runs in those games too. He hit a home run over the press box in Centennial when he was 15,” Todd marveled, “Having a player like that, people will remember.”

“John struck out 18 and had a no-hitter in a state championship. I was a bat boy on that team that was coached by Jack Eldridge and I watched John pitch that game.

“John only lost one game in his high school career. He was 35 and 1 with one loss in a state championship game. I know they’re my brothers, but they were such special players. They could do it with a bat or on the mound,” said Todd.

Although they didn’t see the same success as the others, Todd’s brother David played for Lyndon State College and his younger brother Joe was also a good player. Their sisters were also talented with Rbin playing softball for Johnson State College and Jen pitching for MVU and in college.

Along with his brothers, Todd also had the company of his cousins Brian and Jeff Raleigh, both excellent ball players.

Between all the Raleigh children MVU enjoyed double digit state championships, including the famous ‘Three Peat’ for baseball during Todd and Matt’s years.

This year Cal Raleigh made his mark on the Raleigh family, earning a spot with the Everett Aquasox, a Major League Baseball affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. Cal is currently hitting over 300 with 8 home runs in his young pro ball career.

Todd has appreciated Cal’s love of the game and the way he plays it.

“Cal is right with us; he’s a throwback type player and I see a lot of my brothers in him. He could have been one of those guys playing with us when we were kids. He’s very humble and low key. He has a true love for the game, a passion. That’s been passed down,” said Todd with a chuckle, “I don’t know if it’s a genetic thing. He truly loves to play and that connects him to the rest of us.”

After enjoying a successful run in baseball himself, Todd now has the opportunity to watch his son take his next steps in the game.

“It’s very rewarding as a dad on different levels; Cal grew up on a baseball field and coming to practices at the college where I coached. Seeing the time he’s put in and his hard work, that’s rewarding. I feel blessed in a lot of ways. A lot of stuff that’s happened to Cal, I thought would happen. I thought he’d always do fine wherever he went,” said Todd,” I’ve been thankful that he’s been healthy and we have a good relationship. I’m happy for him and glad to see that all his hard work has paid off.”

Cal enjoyed tremendous success in college playing for the most decorated college coach of all time, Florida Seminole coach Mike Martin.

“Coach Martin has said Cal is one of his all-time favorite players, and that means as much to us as his success,” said Todd, “those are the things that make you feel good because you know that Cal is doing the right thing on and off the field.”

Todd has worked with many ballplayers over the years and the perspective that he has on the game is priceless.

“I’ve coached over 100 players in pro ball and more than 20 in the big leagues. I know you can’t take anything for granted. I’ve enjoyed watching Cal probably more than he does. I just loved going to the games.”

Todd had wise words for Cal as his high school and college years came to an end in 2018. As a pro-ball player himself, Todd knows what’s ahead.

“Your high school and college days are fun, but the pros are a business, and this is Cal’s first taste of that business. It’s still baseball and that’s fun, but I’ve already told him it’s not going to be the same.”

As Todd helps Cal navigate the business of baseball, he’s also remembering a very important piece.

“He’s still just a kid, even though he’s 6’3” and 21 years old. To me he’s Cal. If he makes it to the big leagues that will be the pinnacle. He’s got to perform and work his way up.”

Going pro is something kids all over the world dream of attaining but few have the chance to. Todd is thankful for Cal’s skill as a switch hitter, his size, and the ‘lucky’ breaks that have come his way. Health has also been a major factor.

“He’s been in the right programs and he’s stayed injury free. He’s started in more than 200 games in college and has the most consecutive innings as a college player,” said Todd, “and he’s Raleigh tough!”

Talk of Cal’s success brought memories of Todd’s days on the college ball field.  When asked what was the greatest memory of his baseball career Todd didn’t hesitate.

“College baseball was a blast; those were the best four years of my life. Matt and I played three years together in college. That was the greatest thing I ever did in all of baseball.”

Matt and Todd batted three and four in the batting order, and their relationship on the same team was special, to say the least.

“We had a lot of plays we could put on. I was a catcher and he was third base and we didn’t need any signs. To me that was as special as anything I’ve ever done,” said Todd.

Having the opportunity to play together in college continued the success that they had enjoyed in high school.

“We often didn’t have to speak; we just knew what the other was thinking.  It must have been pretty cool for my parents to see us on the field together,” said Todd, thoughtfully.

Those high school years in Vermont still stand out to Todd as a part of his life that had some hometown magic that he hasn’t found in other places.

“Those were good times! We were on a wave that first state championship year! The parties after the state tournament, there were hundreds of people there. Even the police were present at the party. Our parents and everyone else’s parents had grown up together and everyone knew each other,” Todd recounted, “That’s the good thing about small towns in places like Franklin County.  The small town feel you get in Vermont, you can’t get that any place else and you can’t put a price on it. There aren’t a lot of places like that–where everybody knows everybody. It remains special, and  I haven’t forgotten my roots–my parents, grandparents, and my grandfather’s farm.”

Todd chuckled as he talked of his grandparents.

“When I took my first job coaching, my grandfather who lived to be almost a hundred and had a tremendous work ethic and was ‘a tough bird’, asked my mom how I was going to feed my family. He was an old farmer to the core,” Todd said with a chuckle, “I hope that me and my family have carried that with us. People in Franklin County are tough. I have tried to instill that in my kids as well.”

Hornet Pitching Silences Minutemen

Enosburg Catcher Noah Swainbank lines up for a play at the plate, getting a Mill River player out during their 9-1 win on Wednesday afternoon. The Hornets  advance to the quarterfinal round, hosting Fair Haven on Saturday at 4:30pm.   Gregory J. Lamoureux photo

By Ruthie Laroche
For the County Courier

The Minutemen found hits hard to come by on Wednesday as Brayden Howrigan and Nik Sabrowski combined to allow only one run on the evening against visiting Mill River.

Sabrowski started the game for the hometown Hornets going four innings, striking out six, allowing four hits, and walking one.

Howrigan took the mound in the fifth, getting six of his nine outs on strikeouts and walking two.

“My pitch count was higher than I’d like to see but other than that it was a good game. We came out and battled and kept competing,” said Sabrowski.

Defensively, the Hornets played a flawless game, which was excellent for Sabrowski and Howrigan.

“Defense is key to a pitcher. If you don’t have that, you have the feeling that you have to go after guys and take them yourself. If something happens, it just drains your confidence. Defense is essential to a pitcher. It allows you to go out and find your groove. You can pitch to contact, and when you pitch to contact, you end up striking out more people because you have more confidence and throw more strikes,” said Sabrowski

The Enosburg offense combined to score eight runs over seven innings, thanks to numerous hits from various Hornet batters.

Parker Snow, Sabrowski, Johnathan Paquette, David Antillon, Howrigan, Karson Fortin, and Colby Geddes all had hits on the evening.

“They came out and played like they have all season long. Defensively, we played a great game. We didn’t have any errors, and we had a couple of balls that we probably shouldn’t have gotten to, but we got to them,” said Enosburg head coach Rodney Burns, “Offensively we didn’t hit as well as we have all season, but we didn’t strike out any more than three times. We were putting the ball in play and trying to make things happen.”

Second baseman, Karson Fortin, who is playing his first full year on varsity, shared his thoughts on the upcoming game with fifth seed Northhaven.

“It was a good team win for us; we really needed that. We need to go out swinging more in our next game–be more aggressive at the plate,” said Karson Fortin.

Burns and the team had the pleasure of welcoming back Alec Burns, Rodney’s son, who recently completed his freshman year of college. Alec attended Colby Sawyer College and played on the college baseball team.

“After coming back from a college season, I’ve come back with a lot of tips about hitting and fielding mechanics, and base running,” said Alec.

Alec coached first base for the playdown game on Wednesday afternoon, and his former teammates were glad to have him back.

“I like Alec as my base coach; he’s doing really well with us,” said Fortin.

Alec rejoined his father as an assistant coach, a new chapter in their ongoing baseball relationship.

“I love coming back and coaching with my Dad. I’ve been playing for him all the way up through, so this is a different experience. It’s cool getting to play with him and getting to watch these guys. We won the championship together last year, and it’s great to see how they have stepped up. It’s going to be fun watching them all the way through,” said Alec.

Last year’s Enosburg baseball team won the Division III State Tournament at Centennial Field, and Alec is glad to see this year’s team doing so well.

“This team is very solid defensively, they hit the ball one through nine, and the pitching has been fantastic for us so far,” said Alec.

Burns appreciates the opportunity to have his son on the field.

“It’s great to have Alec back! He’s doing a great job for us at first base. He’s smart and reads the pitchers well. It’s great having him around, and he’s an asset to the team,” said Burns.

Having coached in Enosburg for years, Coach Burns has had the opportunity to see many players graduate from his program.

“I love having my players come back. They’re always willing to help out in any way they can. To see them as often as I do, on the field in a practice or a game, is a great feeling,” said Burns, “There’s nothing I want more than to have my players come back, to be around, and to visit and be part of the group. I love that.”

VARSITY SPORTS PAIRINGS

BFA ST. ALBANS

Baseball: The Tenth-seeded Bobwhites travel to seventh-seeded Essex on Tuesday. The winner of that game will likely travel to second-seeded Brattleboro on Friday, assuming Brattleboro defeats fifteenth-seeded Lyndon on Tuesday.

Softball: The Comets picked up a seventh-seed with a 12-4 regular season record. On Tuesday they will host tenth-seeded Rutland at 4:30. The winner will likely travel to second-seeded Mt. Anthony on Friday for the quarterfinals.

Boys Lacrosse: With a third-seed in the tournament, the Bobwhites advance to the quarterfinal with a bye, hosting the winner of Tuesday’s sixth-seeded Burlington and eleventh-seeded Brattleboro.

Girls Lacrosse: With a 6-7 record, the Comets earned an eighth-seed and a home playoff game on Wednesday, hosting ninth-seeded MMU at 4:30. The winner advances to take on top-seeded CVU Saturday.

BFA FAIRFAX

Baseball: The Eighth-seeded Bullets picked up a home playoff game with a playdown on Tuesday at 4:30, hosting ninth-seeded Vergennes. The winner will travel to top-seeded Windsor on Friday for the quarterfinal round.

Softball: The Bullets picked up a bye in the first round with a fifth seed, advancing to the quarterfinals on Saturday, traveling to fourth-seeded Leland & Gray. The winner of that game will likely travel to Green Mountain in the semifinals.

ENOSBURG

Baseball: Picking up the fourth seed in Division II, the Hornets will host thirteenth-seeded Mill River Union High School on Wednesday at 4:30 pm. If the Hornets win, they will likely host fifth-seeded Fair Haven, unless they lose to twelfth-seeded Mt. Abe.

Softball: Much like their male counterparts, the Lady Hornets picked up a key fourth seed, the Hornets will host thirteenth seeded Rice on Tuesday at 4:30. The winner will advance to the quarterfinal, likely playing fifth-seeded Springfield on Friday at 4:30.

MISSISQUOI VALLEY UNION HIGH SCHOOL

Baseball: The Thunderbirds earned a home game with a final regular season record of 7-9. On Tuesday they will host Hartford at 4:30. The winner will likely travel to Lamoille on Friday.

Softball: With a 13-3 record, the eighth-seeded Thunderbirds host ninth-seeded South Burlington on Tuesday at 4:30. The winner will advance, likely traveling to Essex on Friday.

RICHFORD

Baseball: The fourteenth-seeded Falcons travel to third-seeded Oxbow on Tuesday in the opening round of the Division III playoffs. The winner will likely take on Randolph on Friday.

Softball: The Rockets picked up the seventh seed and a home playoff on Tuesday against tenth-seeded Williamstown.