Softball: ConVal comeback comes too late in semifinal loss

  • The ConVal softball team played John Stark in the NHIAA Division II semifinals at Plymouth State on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal softball team played John Stark in the NHIAA Division II semifinals at Plymouth State on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal softball team played John Stark in the NHIAA Division II semifinals at Plymouth State on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal softball team played John Stark in the NHIAA Division II semifinals at Plymouth State on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal softball team played John Stark in the NHIAA Division II semifinals at Plymouth State on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal softball team played John Stark in the NHIAA Division II semifinals at Plymouth State on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal softball team played John Stark in the NHIAA Division II semifinals at Plymouth State on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal softball team played John Stark in the NHIAA Division II semifinals at Plymouth State on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal softball team played John Stark in the NHIAA Division II semifinals at Plymouth State on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal softball team played John Stark in the NHIAA Division II semifinals at Plymouth State on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal softball team played John Stark in the NHIAA Division II semifinals at Plymouth State on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal softball team played John Stark in the NHIAA Division II semifinals at Plymouth State on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal softball team played John Stark in the NHIAA Division II semifinals at Plymouth State on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal softball team played John Stark in the NHIAA Division II semifinals at Plymouth State on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal softball team played John Stark in the NHIAA Division II semifinals at Plymouth State on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal softball team played John Stark in the NHIAA Division II semifinals at Plymouth State on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal softball team played John Stark in the NHIAA Division II semifinals at Plymouth State on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal softball team played John Stark in the NHIAA Division II semifinals at Plymouth State on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal softball team played John Stark in the NHIAA Division II semifinals at Plymouth State on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal softball team played John Stark in the NHIAA Division II semifinals at Plymouth State on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal softball team played John Stark in the NHIAA Division II semifinals at Plymouth State on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal softball team played John Stark in the NHIAA Division II semifinals at Plymouth State on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal softball team played John Stark in the NHIAA Division II semifinals at Plymouth State on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal softball team played John Stark in the NHIAA Division II semifinals at Plymouth State on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/10/2022 10:45:12 AM
Modified: 6/10/2022 10:43:04 AM

ConVal’s magical playoff run came to an end in the semifinals Wednesday, but the best may be yet to come for the young Cougars.

“It’s a really exciting feeling,” said head coach Amanda Hinton after ConVal’s 11-4 loss to John Stark at Plymouth State’s Chase Field. “It’s exciting that we’re young, that we’re gonna come back.”

The No. 7 Cougars (12-7) were upset-minded against the No. 3 Generals; after all, they’d gone into Merrimack Valley’s house for the Division II quarterfinals and taken down the No. 2 seed. And, they’d hung tight with John Stark in the regular season, losing 2-0 in early May thanks to a shutout performance from DII Pitcher of the Year Olivia Hargreaves. 

Wednesday’s game was a different story. The Generals jumped on ConVal starter Lily Mandel in the second, as a leadoff triple from Ruby Dykstra began a four-run inning; Mandel gave way to Kendall Sullivan in the third, where John Stark scored four more times on timely hits from Hargreaves (2-4, 2B, 3 RBI), Aubrey Fischer (1-3, 2 RBI) and Grace Bolduc (3-3, 2 3B, BB, RBI). 

“They got on the ball today for sure,” Hinton said. “They had some great solid hits, made contact, ran the bases well. We made some throwing errors, gave them a couple extra bases, but [they’re] definitely a solid contact team.”

Hargreaves (7 IP, 10K, 9H, 3BB) was dominant early, allowing just one ConVal baserunner in the first three innings while striking out five. But ConVal was able to scratch across a run in the fourth, where Hannah Beisang singled and then scored on a hit by senior left-fielder Julielle Cabana (2-3, 3 RBI). Down 11-1, ConVal found some more offense in the sixth, when junior All-State shortstop Morgan Bemont (1-3) led off with a single before turning back to her dugout and shouting “Finally!” Mandel (3-3, 2B, RBI) drove her in, Sullivan (2-2) singled, and Cabana knocked them both home.

“The first time we faced [Hargreaves], we struck out 16 times,” Hinton said. “We came back, we made contact. We got three hits in the first game, and I think in one of the innings [today], we had three hits and then the next inning, we had four hits. So we jumped on her – we just jumped on her a little bit late.”

The loss marked the end of ConVal’s best softball season since 2014; the Cougars easily won more games in 2022 than the previous three years combined. They’ll lose Cabana, Mairin Burgess, Mackenzie Gauthier and Makenzie Anderson, but return a core that includes pitchers Mandel and Sullivan along with Bemont, freshman catcher Avery Moore and centerfielder Sam Henderson. 

Hinton said that next year’s senior classes are strong division-wide, though ConVal’s is no exception.

“It'll be fun again next year to see what the competition's like,” Hinton said. “I think the desire to win and yet still have a good time is very evident in our team, and they don't lose that spark very easily. They bounce back. They always work. They keep working even when they're down, and I think that's really important.”


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