by Ken Brown
DORSET – The Craftsbury Academy (CA) softball team couldn’t bring their late season momentum into the playoffs last week as they fell to eighth seeded Long Trail on the road in the first round of the Division IV state tournament.
Olivia Cole-Bugay powered the Lady Mountain Lions to a 20-7 home win over CA last Tuesday to advance to the quarterfinal round. Cole-Bugay belted four hits, scored four runs, and drove in three to help Long Trail jump out to a 6-0 first inning lead and they never looked back. Ade Gillespie had a pair of hits and an RBI for the Lady Chargers and Savannah Boyce took the loss in the circle as their season ended at 5-10.
“We had a good week of practice and tried to bring some momentum into this match-up, but I think the heat and long drive took a little bit out of us. Long Trail played with a lot of heart and energy and hats off to them. The way we ended the regular season, I think the whole team saw the potential to go in and get this game, but it just wasn’t in the cards for us on that particular day,” said head coach Ashley Gravel.
Gravel had high hopes for her experienced squad heading into her fifth season, coming off the program’s first playoff win in nearly two decades last spring. Softball was merely a club sport at CA in 2019 after being dormant for nine years. Spring high school sports were lost to COVID in 2020 and the varsity program was officially restarted in 2021 with a limited schedule. With the Central Vermont League no longer in existence, they joined a rugged Mountain League littered with Division III and IV powerhouses in 2022. CA will lose the five seniors that experienced that journey since eighth grade in Ella Gillespie, Jessalynn Gravel, Alana Ulrich, Arian VanDyk, and Alexis VanDyk. Gravel will return a talented core next season however, led by Boyce, Ade Gillespie, and Sadie Skorstad, and Sophia Augsberger.
“We started the season a little slow, but I’m proud of the way the girls fought together to start playing their best ball at the end of the season. We had an intense and emotional sit-down as a team after the game and went through our highs and lows of the season and as a program. I’ve had a lot of these girls since they were in junior high and they have been amazing role models to our younger players. They are the reason this program is back at CA and we’ll miss them dearly,” said Gravel.
Long Trail’s season ended at 4-5 as they fell to top-seeded West Rutland over the weekend 8-4.