PROCTOR — There’s this little drought they talk about in Proctor, the 20-year drought. Proctor’s last baseball state championship was in 2000 when the Phantoms defeated Twinfield 6-5 in the title game with Jeff Patch on the mound.
Now, Patch is the Proctor coach and he would love to see the Phantoms end the dry spell sooner than later.
It has not been quite as long of a wait for the Phantoms on the softball diamond. They danced on the field in Poultney in 2012 after edging Whitcomb 4-3 in the biggest game.
That softball championship clinched the “triple crown” for the Phantoms. Proctor also won the state title in girls soccer and girls basketball that 2011-12 school year. Three athletes, Alyssa Valerio, Megan Carter and Brodie Langlois, played on all three teams.
Now, the Phantoms would pull off “the triple” again by claiming the softball crown. They won the soccer and basketball state championships this school year.
New pitching blood
Seniors Brennon Crossmon and Conner McKearin are playing baseball this spring for the first time since junior high school.
Both are pitchers.
Crossmon was especially impressive during pitchers-and-catchers week and will probably provide the 1-2 punch in the rotation along with Camden Richardson.
“They are both good athletes. We are glad to have them,” said Patch of Crossmon and McKearin, also one of the state’s top scoring duos in basketball.
Crossmon has exhibited good velocity and Patch likes Richardson and him at the top of the rotation.
“We will ride that train as long as we can,” Patch said.
Jacob Patch, Jeff’s son, is another pitcher.
Crossmon will likely be at shortstop when not pitching.
McKearin will be in center field to take advantage of his speed. Bryson Bourn’s height figures to be beneficial at first base and Joel Denton will see time at both second base and center field.
Lucas Merrill is a second baseman, Tyler Eugiar will likely be in left and Robert Lang in right.
Cameron Cannucci is set behind the plate.
“We aren’t powerful but we have speed and athleticism. That will be our thing,” coach Patch said.
He knows it won’t take long for the Phantoms to find out plenty about themselves. Their opening game is at Poultney on April 19 and he sees that as one very tough assignment.
Patch talked about Poultney pitcher Ryan Alt and how he expects him to be stern test for his lineup.
Coach Abby Bennett has some time before the opener on April 22 against Poultney, but after missing the entire 2020 season due to COVID, she knows no amount of time is enough time.
The good news is that everyone is in the same boat.
Senior Sydney Wood is a fixture behind the plate. She has the skills and toughness necessary for the position and you can add experience as another attribute.
The last time that Hope Kelley played at Proctor’s Elm Street complex, she was in the maroon of the Black River Presidents. Bennett is elated that Kelley is in the Proctor shade of maroon now.
She can lend stability to the infield.
Rachel Stuhlmueller has played third base and shortstop but she will go where her piece of the puzzle fits best.
Sawyer Perkins and Janaya Richardson are other seniors. Richardson is out for softball for the first time in several years and could give the Phantoms a big lift.
Junior Laci French is back after playing second base in 2019.
Another junior Maggie McKearin might be handed the ball but if she is in the circle, it takes away something from the defense. McKearin was one of the top flyhawks in the league as the left fielder in 2019.
Still, you do not win softball game without having someone who can throw strikes and if McKearin is the only one who can do that, she will be doing it.
Bennett has a couple of weeks to try to find other people who can go to the circle and get the ball over the plate.
Isabel Greb is a talented freshman who was a major piece of the Phantoms’ success in soccer and softball and will be counted on for more of the same this spring.
Rounding out the squad are Katelyn Regula, triplets Angel, Dez and Jazz Traverse, Cadence Goodwin and Grace King.
“We have got two weeks to get a lot done,” said Bennett who was uncertain what positions most of her players would be playing as of Wednesday’s practice.