Local Family Makes the Pitch for Craftsbury

by Jim Flint

photo by Jim Flint
Ninth-grader Savanah Boyce (center) pitched for the Craftsbury Academy softball team in its first-round playoff game against Proctor on June 2. Savanah’s mother, Jessica Boyce (left), and her grandmother Judy Locke (right), also pitched for the Charger girls during their high school years at the Academy. Completing the family’s field of dreams was Savanah’s great grandfather, the late Paul Brown. He was a lefty pitcher for the Craftsbury Commoners during the 1930s.

PROCTOR — On May 31, Craftsbury Academy won a playdown game vs. Twinfield Union, 19-6. The Chargers qualified as the No. 8 seed for the Division IV state softball tournament. Their reward was a trip to the Marble Valley on June 2, to play the heavily-favored, No. 1-seeded Proctor Phantoms.

The Charger girls faced a tough decision. A few team members were out with COVID. Should the team forfeit the game or play? The girls chose to advance to the D-IV state softball tournament for the first time in 15 years.

Savanah Boyce was the only pitcher left in the Craftsbury lineup. The ninth-grader was ready for the challenge when head coach Ashley Gravel called her number. Boyce shares a deep love of the game of softball with her mother, Jessica Locke Boyce, and her grandmother, Judy Brown Locke.

Judy Locke (Craftsbury Class of 1971) was a member of the inaugural Craftsbury Academy softball team, begun in 1968. Mrs. Joan Simmons volunteered to coach the team, even though the Craftsbury English teacher had never played softball. Locke served as the team’s pitcher.

Judy Locke came from seasoned baseball stock. Her father, Paul Brown, graduated from the Academy in 1935. He was a lefty pitcher for the Craftsbury Commoners. The Academy’s team during that era played in the northern Vermont small schools fall baseball league.

Jessica Boyce (Craftsbury Class of 1993) was an All-State Division IV soccer player. She also pitched for the Academy’s softball team.

Jessica and Judy were on hand to watch Savanah play against Proctor. Savanah’s grandfather, William Locke, and her brother Avery Stephen Locke, age 10, completed the Craftsbury cheering section.

Early in the game, Proctor pitcher Cadence Goodwin picked up her 100th career strikeout. Undaunted, Craftsbury connected for three solid hits and scored an earned run off the Proctor ace.

Boyce kept her composure as pitcher. She completed five full innings against the Proctor hitters, before the mercy rule ended the game with the Phantoms ahead, 25-1. The young Charger team played with courage. The girls picked up valuable experience in their quest to return to the playoffs in 2023.