×

One step away: Powerhouse White Mountains knocks off Mascenic in finals

  • The Mascenic softball team beat Campbell on Wednesday to advance to the Division III championship. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic softball team beat Campbell on Wednesday to advance to the Division III championship. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic softball team beat Campbell on Wednesday to advance to the Division III championship. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic softball team beat Campbell on Wednesday to advance to the Division III championship. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic softball team beat Campbell on Wednesday to advance to the Division III championship. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic softball team lost to White Mountains in the Division III championship game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic softball team lost to White Mountains in the Division III championship game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic softball team lost to White Mountains in the Division III championship game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic softball team lost to White Mountains in the Division III championship game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic softball team lost to White Mountains in the Division III championship game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic softball team lost to White Mountains in the Division III championship game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic softball team lost to White Mountains in the Division III championship game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic softball team lost to White Mountains in the Division III championship game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic softball team lost to White Mountains in the Division III championship game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Mascenic softball team lost to White Mountains in the Division III championship game on Saturday. Staff photo by Ben Conant—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, June 08, 2017

For the second straight year, the Vikings saw their softball season end in Plymouth at the hands of White Mountains. And though this time, Mascenic made it all the way to the championship, it was still a bitter defeat.

“It stings, and it's always tough to see the girls crying at the end of the game, and the seniors, it's over for them,” said head coach Dutch Stauffeneker. “We expected to be here, we hoped that we would be, and we're certainly not satisfied just to be here. We wanted to win this game and I really thought that we were going to.”

The Vikings allowed two runs in the first inning after Maddie Labrie walked leadoff hitter Kaitlyn Nelson to start an early Spartan rally.

“Maddie settled in to the game well,” Stauffeneker said. “She was so nervous in the first inning, and they ended up scoring two on us, but I thought she settled into the game nice and really started just mowing them down.” Labrie finished with four strikeouts.

“She's good, very good,” said White Mountains head coach Forrest Hicks.

The Vikings, meanwhile, had their work cut out for them with the Spartans’ imposing senior Pitcher of the Year Kaitlyn Coulter. The Vikings went three innings without a baserunner before Raven Comtois singled in the fourth.

“She was Pitcher of the Year for a reason,” Stauffeneker said.

As is often the case with Coulter, who throws a hard fastball and little else, Mascenic’s hitters started timing her a little better as the ame went along.

“We definitely started hitting her at the end of the game,” said junior centerfielder Sam Bilodeau.

In the fifth, junior leftfielder Melonie Ojala reached on an error, moved over on a sac bunt by Jordyn Babin and then scored on a wild pitch. And in the sixth, the Vikings got in scoring position on a hard-hit leadoff single by freshman third baseman Shelby Babin, and a sac bunt by Labrie. Bilodeau came up with two outs and ripped one to left for the game-tying RBI.

But tied up in the sixth inning is where White Mountains thrives.

“It’s a good feeling,” said Hicks. “No big deal. That’s when they fire up.”

Another leadoff walk, this one to Coulter, opened the frame, and once Hailey Hicks got on, the Spartan threat was looming. Megan Nelson came to the plate, Stauffeneker called the outfielders in a but for a potential bunt, or at least to stop the runners from advancing on a short hit or pop-up. Labrie got ahead 1-2, Comtois called for the pitch, high and inside, and Labrie threw it. Nelson drove the ball into the right-center gap, between Bilodeau and Tori Keating, and White Mountains had a 4-2 lead.

“Sometimes you make a great pitch and the hitter just beats you,” Stauffeneker said. “That’s a big hit in a big moment.”

“We were in the game until that one blooper to right center,” Bilodeau said. “Up until that point, we were in the game. I think that kind of depleted us.”

Mascenic went down in order in the seventh inning and watched White Mountains celebrate their second straight championship.

“Hats off to those guys,” Stauffeneker said. “Forrest does a tremendous job, they swing the bats and if you’re not on the black the whole game, they make you pay. They hit, they kind of just make you play all phases of the game. They bunt with two strikes, they slap, they hit with power, they’ve got speed, so they constantly keep the pressure on you.”

It was Mascenic’s sixth state championship appearance and their first since 2004, when the Vikings lost to Berlin. Mascenic is 2-5 in the title game, winning Class M titles in 1982 and 1984.

“They’re young, they’re going to be back,” said Hicks. “I expect that we’ll see them again that’s for sure.”

On paper, this is a team that should be favored to return to the title game next year. The Vikings lose one starter, Keating, and return the rest, with freshman corner infielders who just started in the championship game, a battery of All-State sophomores and a slew of experienced juniors. But Stauffeneker knows as well as anybody about what it takes to reach a title game.

“We deserved to be here,” Stauffeneker said. “It was our one moment, our opportunity, and I hope it comes up again, I hope we get another one, but there’s nothing guaranteeing us getting back here. I know we have a great following and everybody has high expectations, but boy, you step out here between the lines and it’s hard to win a state championship.”