WEST RUTLAND — A veteran West Rutland softball team looked solid in Saturday's 16-1, mercy rule victory. Poultney, an inexperienced club starting four eighth graders, looked like a team that has a lot of growing to do.
The good news is that Poultney coach Tony Lamberton feels they will grow and that the potential is there for them to become a good club before the Division IV playoffs roll around.
West Rutland pitcher Elizabeth Bailey was in command all five innings, surrendering only one hit. She struck out the game's first two batters and she said that helped her get in the groove.
"I was very nervous before the game and that kind of boosted my confidence," Bailey said. "My teammates cheering me on helped, too."
New Golden Horde coach Laurie Serrani believes Bailey is throwing with a little more velocity this year.
"I think last year she didn't throw as hard because she was afraid of her control or of hitting someone.This year she has control of her pitches and so she is throwing harder."
The only blip came in the fourth when Bailey walked the first two batters of the inning. She recovered by striking out the side, finishing with five strikeouts.
"Laurie always tells me to just get those pitches out of my system and find my release point," Bailey said of that fourth frame.
The Golden Horde had only seven hits, but they didn't need many thanks to the seven walks they drew along with numerous Blue Devil errors.
The Horde got off to a great start by scoring three in the first. Bailey had an RBI single and the Devils committed three errors in the inning to set the tone for the game.
They scored three more in the second, an inning keyed by Alissa Covarubias' two-run single. Bailey Sevigny got the other run home with a sacrifice fly.
The Blue Devils broke through in the top of the third, Kassie Mack's base hit scoring Sierra McDermott.
Becky Sanderson's RBI single highlighted another three-run inning for Westside in the third.
The Horde had a big fourth, scoring five times on just one hit. Three walks, a hit batsman and more errors kept the merry-go-round going on the bases. Kasey Serrani had the lone hit of the frame, a crisp drive up the middle.
Ariel Fitzgerald and Rebecca DeKalb crossed the plate in the fifth to end the game on the 15-run rule. It was more of the same as the Horde scored the runs without the benefit of a hit.
Julia Bruno went the distance in the circle for the Devils.
It was the opener for both teams.
West Rutland will take this school vacation week off but Poultney is back in action on Tuesday at White River Valley. That was originally a home game but has been moved to South Royalton.
"We didn't prepare them well enough. There were certainly first-game jitters," Lamberton said. "But I still think we can be a good team by the time the playoffs are here."
Some of the Poultney errors were not easy chances. Even when the Golden Horde batters hit it right at someone, the balls were stung.
The top of the order was productive with leadoff batter Kiana Garbowski and Covarubias in the No. 2 spot scoring four runs apiece. No. 9 batter Kierra Pipeling was unsettling to the Blue Devils defense with her speed. She reached three times on errors and scored all three times.
"I thought it went well today," coach Serrani said. "When it looked like things might get shaky, they did not get panicky."
That's the trait of a veteran team and symbolic of the type of maturity Lamberton is hoping his Blue Devils can acquire as they go along.