BENNINGTON -- The big test loomed: Brattleboro, the best team in southern Vermont the past three years, on Monday at 5 p.m.
And the Patriots aced it.
Behind a smooth, complete-game no-hitter from sophomore Baylee Ports, the Mount Anthony Union High School softball team did something it hadn’t done in four years, edging Brattleboro, 2-0, on Monday.
The Patriots (8-2) ended a seven-game skid against their cross-state rivals, scoring a run early and a run late to pick up their eighth consecutive victory this year. Their last loss came against the Colonels, 4-3, in the second game of the season.
"We knew they were going to be very good this year. They’ve been young the last couple years and it’s a good group of kids," Brattleboro coach Kelly Markol said. "They’re a pretty good -- they’re not a pretty good team, they’re a very good team this year."
And Ports, after striking out seven and walking just one, surviving three errors and a bases-loaded jam, was unaware she had a no-hitter on the books.
"Are you sure?" she said. "Wow."
The right-hander retired the side in order the last four innings to shut the door on the Colonels (7-2-1) after shortstop Kate Goodell snared a line-drive to end the third inning with Brattleboro runners on every base.
"I thought [Ports] was great. She was totally in it 100 percent, hitting her spots," said MAU coach Katie Contrada. "And you’ve got to give a lot of credit to [catcher] Julie Elwell behind the plate, because she calls the entire game. She’s calling every pitch that Baylee’s throwing.
"They’ve been working together. They’re just an awesome duo out there. Baylee trusts Julie calling the pitches and she also trusts her defense."
The Patriots registered eight hits to beat Brattleboro’s senior ace Kayla Wood (eight strikeouts, one walk) for the first time in eight tries.
"I told them not to worry about what pitch she’s throwing, just watch it off her hip and drive it," Contrada said. "I think they can hit anybody and they’ve proven that this year."
Ports said she had to get by pitching low in the zone with the umpire not calling many strikes in the upper half with her rise-ball.
"I got a lot of them swinging at the screwball, which was nice. And my change-up, they were catching up to it a little bit, but they were popping up," Ports said.
Mount Anthony grabbed a 1-0 edge in the first inning. Keira Goodell lofted a one-out single to short center and scored two batters later thanks to a Brattleboro error on Makayla Farrara’s ground ball.
The Patriots doubled the lead in the fifth as Kate Goodell, who led off the frame driving a single up the middle, scored from second base on Farrara’s single to center field.
Farrara finished 2-for-3, one of seven Patriots to hit safely. She and Kate Goodell combined for a dozen putouts on the left side of the infield.
"I’m so proud of them," Contrada said. "They come out and they’re just ready to play. They leave it all out on the field. That’s what they do every game. I couldn’t be happier."