BRATTLEBORO -- While "Lefty" was struggling through the first round of the Masters on Thursday, another southpaw was in a zone.
Freshman Devin Millerick used her sweet swing to deliver a pair of RBI singles in her varsity debut at Sawyer Field, leading the defending state champion Brattleboro softball team to a 7-1 victory over visiting Otter Valley.
"Devin came up huge for us. She had a really good day at the plate," said Colonels coach Kelly Markol.
It was an impressive season opener for a team that graduated six starters, including 2013 Gatorade Vermont Softball Player of the Year Kayla Wood. The four-year ace pitched the Colonels to three Division 1 titles and had a remarkable 13-1 postseason record.
"It was not a bad start for her at all," said Markol of pitcher Hannah Wilson's first varsity innings in the circle. The sophomore struck out three, walked zero and scattered five hits to pick up the complete-game victory.
Wilson and Otter Valley hurler Taylor Aines each gave up one run in the first frame. Laura-Beth Roberts got the Otters on the board with an RBI groundout, and Brattleboro's Mckinlie Carpenter knotted the score by taking one for the team, stealing second, moving up on Daisy Giroux's bloop single and going home on a wild pitch.
Wilson limited the visitors to just four baserunners the rest of the way, on three singles and an error.
Millerick (2B) had three assists in the second inning, highlighted by a dive to her left that robbed Danielle Eddy of a single. In the fourth, Samantha Harrison (RF) made a hustle catch in foul ground and Maddy Derosia (SS) made a nice play up the middle. And left fielder Casey Manning made the play of the day in the sixth -- sprinting toward the fence and somehow making a Willie Mays like catch on what looked like a sure double for Aines.
"We know we have to play good defense. I thought we did a nice job. Casey made that catch and Daisy did a nice job in center for us," added Markol.
After leaving two runners in scoring position in the third, the purple and white would rally for three runs in the fourth.
Jess Ogden led off with a double to deep center and Manning drew a one-out walk before a wild pitch advanced them both. A suicide squeeze by Alex Derosia scored pinch runner Jocelyn Aither from third. And then Millerick went the other way, dumping a two-run single into left field to put the Colonels ahead 4-1.
Brattleboro loaded the bases to begin the sixth, thanks to a couple of hit by pitches and an error, and then Millerick singled to left again to make it 6-1. An RBI groundout from Giroux would cap the scoring.
Carpenter, the veteran catcher, had to remind her teammates at times to do their infamous chants. But in the sixth inning, the positive encouragement that the BUHS program is known for was evident.
"Hey, Alex. Hey, Alex. Woo-woo, yea," chanted the Brattleboro players after Alex Derosia bunted over Manning.
"Here we go, Dev!" shouted Markol when Millerick dug in.
"Come on, Maddy! Relax and hit that ball," screamed assistant coach Jeff Rawson as Maddy Derosia awaited a pitch from Aines.
BUHS first base coach Al Wood was busy marking things down in the scorebook. The hosts had 13 baserunners and scored seven runs at the beginning of what other Division 1 schools in the state are hoping is a rebuilding year.
Carpenter got on base twice from her leadoff position, Millerick went 2-for-3 in the No. 2 slot and drove in four runs, and Giroux was 2-for-2 with an RBI. Alex Derosia added a single and Ogden doubled.
"Alex is quick. She had a couple of nice bunts for us," stated Markol. "And I thought Jocelyn diving home and scoring was a big spark for us."
Aines fanned eight, walked four and gave up six hits. Megan Santell and Olivia Bloomer each had a pair of hits for the Otters.
The 1-0 Colonels will host Rutland on Saturday at noon.
Shane Covey can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 163.