×

Conant softball crumbles in semifinal game

  • The Conant softball team lost to White Mountains in the Division III Final Four on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant softball team lost to White Mountains in the Division III Final Four on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant softball team lost to White Mountains in the Division III Final Four on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant softball team lost to White Mountains in the Division III Final Four on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant softball team lost to White Mountains in the Division III Final Four on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant softball team lost to White Mountains in the Division III Final Four on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant softball team lost to White Mountains in the Division III Final Four on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant softball team lost to White Mountains in the Division III Final Four on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Conant softball team lost to White Mountains in the Division III Final Four on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The White Mountains side of the scorebook was one big black mark after the sixth inning on Wednesday, and it’s evidence that Conant would like to have redacted.

Up big on the defending champion Spartans, Conant let their crafty north country foes creep back into the game, starting the sixth with just a 6-5 lead. Still, runs had been hard to come by for the usually potent White Mountains offense, and the Orioles looked to be in good shape. Then, disaster struck.

White Mountains opened with a running drag bunt by specialist Maddie Bean, the nine-hitter. Catcher Skyler Tenney’s throw drew first baseman Brenna Welch off the bag, though the speedster Bean would likely have been safe anyway. Kaitlyn Nelson dropped another bunt down the first-base line, where pitcher Camri Aho’s diving scoop got away from Welch. Aho retrieved it and threw across the diamond from her knees to third, but Beth Hector wasn’t expecting a throw and the ball went out of play, scoring Bean to tie the game. Amaya Dodier threw down yet another bunt, this one right back to Aho, who grabbed it, stumbled, and one-hopped it to Welch, who couldn’t control it. Then, Bri Watson turned on a ball to left, and Nelson raced in with Dodier on her heels. The one-run lead became a two-run deficit in a heartbeat.

“Three bunts in a row, three errors in a row, what do you do?” said head coach Tom Lambert. “We’re falling down within the circle, throwing them in the dirt, airmailing them over there when nobody’s even watching, panicking, what can you do?”

Lambert pulled Camri Aho in favor of her sister Manea, and then returned to give the dugout walls an earful. The damage was done, and all he and the Conant faithful could do was watch as White Mountains ran around the bases. The Spartans would score ten runs in the inning to create a 15-6 final.

After the game, Lambert was frustrated with what he saw as an inconsistent strike zone.

“We’re going inside, inside, inside they’re on the plate, they’re not even moving, and they’re calling them balls. I mean, [Camri] throws a screwball, there’s no way that’s not touching the front of the plate,” Lambert said.

It was a low-scoring game early, with White Mountains up 2-0 until the Orioles surged ahead in the fifth. Camri Aho took a pitch from DIII Pitcher of the Year Kaitlyn Coulter into the outfield and Hannah Carey advanced her with a groundout. Kenzey Aho bunted Camri over and beat out the throw, setting the table for Tenney, who poked single through the left side and scored Camri. All-State First Teamer Grace Chadbourne hit a bloop to right that got down and scored Kenzey, and the game was tied.

“We played a good game,” said Hector. “It was a tough match, I'm glad it was my last — I fought hard the entire time. We all fought hard the entire time.”

Brenna Welch stroked one to drive in Tenney, and Conant had a 3-2 lead — but they weren’t done. Hector came up and smashed the first Coulter pitch she saw to right, where it got by the diving Watson. Chadbourne and Welch scored, and Hector never slowed as she rounded the bases.

“As soon as I saw [first base coach Mo Boutwell] going around with the arm, I just got on my horse and I ran,” Hector said. “I was very happy, I was very happy.”

It was another tough season-ender for Conant at the hands of White Mountains, who returned to the championship game for the sixth straight year. The Orioles were ousted in another come-from-behind Spartan victory in the 2015 Final Four.

The young Orioles have a bright future, despite losing a slew of seniors in Chadbourne, Hector, and Kenzey and Daria Aho. Pitcher Manea Aho made All-State Honorable Mention and Camri will be back too, along with linchpins like Tenney and Welch and players from JRMS’s undefeated middle school team.

“I really think that since we're getting here consistently, girls who come up next year and the girls who come up after that, they're going to be even better, they're going to fight even harder,” Hector said.