Spartans charge through Wildcats, 12-0

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GREAT BARRINGTON — The focus for the 2019 Monument Mountain softball team, a young bunch that hasn't had much experience at the varsity level, has centered around learning the game. So far, the Spartans are learning they've got some talent on the diamond.

With a 12-0 win over Lee, the Spartans improved to 6-5, and setting the tone early were two captains, Rhianna Louw and Aubrey Blanchard.

Louw got things rolling with a 1-2-3 top of the first inning and silenced the bats throughout the afternoon. The Spartan ace pitched five innings and struck out five in the process.

"She was dealing with an injury for a couple of games," coach Scott Annand said. "After a little rest she is stepping up and throwing strikes for us and it makes a big difference. She's one of my captains because she has all the pressure on her and she is doing a great job."

With Louw dealing from the circle, the offense looked to Blanchard to provide a spark in the bottom of the first. Blanchard, a senior who is in just her 11th softball game at the varsity level, started the game with a single.

"Softball is new for me," Blanchard explained. "I like leadoff because I want to get on base for my teammates and I know they'll do the job and bring me in. Standing in the box against a live pitcher is tough, but I am starting to get the hang of it now."

Abby Wade followed with a single, but the biggest hit of the inning came from freshman Grace Fosser, who knocked a two-run single to give the Spartans an early 2-0 advantage.

The bats continued in the second and third innings as the Spartans put up eight more runs with Blanchard, who ended the day 4 for 4, leading the charge. The senior had her second single of the day in the second, but her biggest hit of the day, a two-run home run, came in as part of a five-run fifth inning.

"We couldn't expect this kind of growth from Aubrey, but Aubrey is Aubrey," Annand said. "We didn't know if she could throw it or field it, but all she does is work at things and get better."

With a 10-run lead in her back pocket, Louw continued her strong performance as she allowed just one hit, a single by Ashley Cloutier of the Wildcats (2-8), in her five innings of work.

"I had my team behind me to help me remain calm," Louw said. "It's important to have fun because I don't think we can win if we are all super serious all the time. We don't always play the prettiest games, but we do it together and with a smile on our faces and make each other laugh."

The sixth inning belonged to two freshmen; Fosser and Elle Hall.

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Hall, who was 2 for 3 with two runs scored at the plate, took over in the circle in the sixth. She struck out the first batter she faced and only needed to face three Wildcats to get out of the frame.

"It's been continual learning of the game with a very young team," Annand said. "They've made continual improvement. They've felt the game better and executed better."

After a double by Louw in the bottom of the sixth, Fosser cranked a home run that ended the game via the mercy rule with the score now 12-0.

"We continue to get better and better every game," Fosser said. "We just play hard because once we get on the field we are focused on getting the win and nothing else matters. I've been working [on my hitting] forever and I'm not going to get cocky and just keep playing hard."

The Spartans will look to continue the momentum with two tough road games around the corner. On Thursday they will head to Mount Greylock before visiting Hoosac Valley on Monday. First pitch for both games is scheduled for 4 p.m.

"The next step is to compete with the tougher teams and know when things go astray that we can pull ourselves out of it," Annand said. "When we get down to not give up the huge inning and then just battle back against good pitchers.

"That is the next step in the development."

————

Lee     000     000     —     0     1     2     

Monument     235     002     —     12     13     2

Rhianna Louw (5), Elle Hall (1) and Grace Fosser. Katelyn Clark and Peyton Heath. W — Louw. L — Clark. 2B — MM 2 (Elle Hull, Louw). HR — MM 2 (Aubrey Blanchard and Fosser).

Jake Mendel can be reached at jmendel@berkshireeagle.com, at @JMendel94 or 413-496-6252.

Monument     235     002     —     12     13     2

Rhianna Louw (5), Elle Hall (1) and Grace Fosser. Katelyn Clark and Peyton Heath. W — Louw. L — Clark. 2B — MM 2 (Elle Hull, Louw). HR — MM 2 (Aubrey Blanchard and Fosser).

Jake Mendel can be reached at jmendel@berkshireeagle.com, at @JMendel94 or 413-496-6252.

Rhianna Louw (5), Elle Hall (1) and Grace Fosser. Katelyn Clark and Peyton Heath. W — Louw. L — Clark. 2B — MM 2 (Elle Hull, Louw). HR — MM 2 (Aubrey Blanchard and Fosser).

Jake Mendel can be reached at jmendel@berkshireeagle.com, at @JMendel94 or 413-496-6252.


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