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ConVal

Two of a kind

The two greatest pitchers in Cougars history wrapped up their careers this year in fine fashion

  • The ConVal softball team defeated Goffstown 6-0 in the home opener on Monday, April 15, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The ConVal baseball team beat John Stark 7-0 in the first round of the NHIAA DII playoffs on Thursday.
  • The ConVal baseball team beat John Stark 7-0 in the first round of the NHIAA DII playoffs on Thursday.
  • The ConVal baseball team beat John Stark 7-0 in the first round of the NHIAA DII playoffs on Thursday.
  • The ConVal baseball team beat John Stark 7-0 in the first round of the NHIAA DII playoffs on Thursday.
  • The ConVal baseball team beat John Stark 7-0 in the first round of the NHIAA DII playoffs on Thursday.
  • The ConVal baseball team beat John Stark 7-0 in the first round of the NHIAA DII playoffs on Thursday.
  • The ConVal baseball team beat John Stark 7-0 in the first round of the NHIAA DII playoffs on Thursday.
  • The ConVal softball team defeated Goffstown 6-0 in the home opener on Monday, April 15, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

One could argue that Courtney Fisher and Ivon Clough sit atop the all-time list of greatest pitchers to ever don a ConVal uniform. The two aces will always be linked due to their age, work ethic, and dominance on the mound. As these two all-time greats and recent high school graduates look toward the future, their journeys lead them in different directions.

Clough will play Division I college baseball for the University of Maine, while Fisher will attend Assumption College in Worcester, Mass. where she will run track and cross country.

Up until this juncture, Fisher and Clough have traveled a similar path to dominance on the diamond. Fisher began playing softball when she was 8.

“My dad introduced me to the sport. Both of my brothers played baseball, so I gave softball a try and I liked it,” Fisher recalled.

Like Fisher, Clough was introduced to America’s past time at an early age.

“My dad introduced me to the sport and I began playing T-ball when I was 5 or 6.”

Both young players were coached by their fathers growing up; Fisher, who lives in Peterborough, played for the Monadnock All-Stars, coached by her father as well as Dave Springfield and Dave Chadbourne, while Clough, a Dublin resident, was throwing heat for the Cal Ripken All-Stars.

After Fisher and Clough outgrew their respective All-Star teams, both opted to play for Amateur Athletic Union and Amateur Softball Association clubs. Clough for the Timbercats and Hammerheads and Fisher for the Diamond Gems.

“I played for the Timbercats when I was 12 and then the Hammerheads when I was 14,” Clough said. Fisher played with the Diamond Gems from ages 12 to 17.

The AAU and ASA programs allowed Fisher and Clough to travel New England, honing their skills against premier competition year-round, making them nightmares for opponents when the time came for their ConVal seasons.

Clough and Fisher have both spent the last eight years working out at Power Series Sports in Wilton, yet another avenue for off-season training.

“Courtney is intense. She’s not very big, but throws hard for her size. She has always been aggressive on the mound and her control is exceptional. As she got older, she gained the ability to strike out batters without throwing a strike,” said Fisher’s long time pitching coach Dick Albert.

It came as no surprise when both players were able to come into ConVal as freshman and make immediate impacts on the varsity squads. Both Fisher and Clough remained effective even when not on the mound. This season Clough hit .460 with a home run and four triples, while Fisher batted .298. The offensive stats, although impressive, pale in comparison to the duo’s pitching line. Clough finished his senior campaign with a perfect 7-0 record, .42 ERA, 76 strikeouts, and just four walks. Fisher ended her softball season with a record of 8-11, 197 strikeouts, and a no-hitter.

Despite racking up impressive stats, Fisher and Clough will both tell you they don’t think about the stats when they take the field.

“My favorite part about the game is winning. I love both pitching and hitting. Striking a batter out is as good as hitting a home run,” said Clough.

Fisher shares Clough’s passion for winning games.

“I have passion for softball. I’ve made a lot of friends playing over the years. It’s fun to win, especially when I’m on the mound,” smiled Fisher, who led the Cougars to a state title during her junior season. “My proudest accomplishment is winning the state title my junior year. Striking out the last batter of that game was really special. A close second would be this season when I recorded my 700th strikeout.” Fisher finished her high school career with a school-record 775 strikeouts.

Although Clough never won a state title as a Cougar, he has fond memories dating back to his freshman year.

“I still remember one of my best games in a ConVal uniform was a playoff game versus Hanover freshman year. They were the higher seed and I had a big game,” recalled Clough, who said he’ll miss playing for ConVal as he heads to Maine.“I’m going to miss my teammates. You spend every day with them. You really get to bond — it’s a small town. Mike [Marschok]’s a good coach, he has helped me a lot.”

Unlike Clough, Fisher may never play a competitive game of softball again, but she has many memories to take with her as she moves on.

“I’ll miss pitching, it’ll be good for my arm to get a rest though. I will miss striking people out and helping my team win, and I’ll miss having a unique bond with whoever was catching me.”

The ConVal baseball and softball programs will no doubt miss having Clough and Fisher as leaders on the diamond, and will be tasked with replacing the duo come next spring.

“Ivon doesn’t need motivation, he’s like having a coach on the field. Kids like him don’t come around all the time,” said ConVal varsity baseball coach Mike Marschok.

Fisher’s coach, Jim Coppo, has similar praise, “Courtney has become a legend in this program. She’s very intense when she’s on the mound.”

Fisher’s choice to pursue running in college may come as a surprise to people that have seen her throw a softball, but she is not shy about explaining the change in direction.

“I chose to run because running is a team sport while also being challenging individually. [Runners] can accomplish a lot individually. I look forward to getting better at running and meeting a new group of girls,” said Fisher, who will study elementary education at Assumption.

While Fisher is running much further than a lap around the bases, Clough will be doing everything he can do improve his pitching at the next level.

“You can always get better. I’m going to pitch in college, so I’ve got to work more on pitching. I just want to be a good quality college player. I want to climb up the college ranks. I want to be the best. It’s going to require hard work. Gotta keep at it and take the good with the bad. The mental part of my game is the hardest for me to improve.”

As each athlete takes the next step in their respective career, they take with them a trait that is unteachable and prized in any sport: self-motivation.

“I’m a self motivated person. Winning has and will always be a motivator for me. I know hard work and practice pay off no matter what your goal is,” said Fisher.

“My dream is to go as far as I can in baseball. My personal goals, family and friends have helped me along the way. I have a lot of self pride,” said Clough.

But put aside all the training, all the intensity, all the hours of hard work, and what these two really had in common is the love of the game.

“There is nothing better than being outside and playing ball,” said Clough.

Dylan Fisher can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235, or dfisher@ledgertranscript.com.

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