Who's the team to beat in Division I softball this season?
That's the question some were debating before last Friday's game between Essex High School and BFA-St. Albans. Each team entered the contest with a 12-0 record.
Essex seemed to put the argument to rest by posting a 12-0 victory.
Senior Alexis Perry carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, and settled for a two-hitter with eight strikeouts. The Hornets scored in every inning.
Essex owned a 15-0 record entering Thursday's game against North Country. It was the team's final regular-season contest.
Perry, who will play softball at Division II Merrimack College, is what separates Essex from the state's other top teams. Through 11 games she had 106 strikeouts in 54 innings, and was batting .591. She has a 45-4 record in her high school career
“She's a hard-worker,” Essex co-head coach Bill O'Neil told the Burlington Free Press earlier this season. “She's not one to just sit on what she's got – she's always looking to get better.”
Perry pitched a perfect game when Essex defeated Middlebury 3-0 on May 12. She struck out 12 and threw 74 pitches in the victory.
Eight of the Hornets' 15 victories have come by shutout. The team has allowed more than one run twice this season – victories over Milton (13-3) and Mt. Abraham (6-2).
Essex won the state title in Perry's freshman season, but dropped 1-0 decisions to Brattleboro in the 2010 and 2011 playoffs. Perry pitched a no-hitter in the loss to Brattleboro last year.
“We are not going to lose to them 1-0 again,” Perry told the Free Press. “This is our year.”
MORE SOFT TOSS
The Burlington softball team hasn't won a postseason game in 15 years – a play-in victory over Rice – but that may change this spring.
Despite suffering back-to-back losses against Milton and Essex, Burlington is 10-5 entering its final regular-season game Thursday (at BFA-St. Albans).
The Seahorses, who do not have a senior on their roster, strung together nine consecutive wins earlier this season.
The Colchester baseball team received no-hitters from Sean Callahan and Zach Tandy in the same week earlier this month.
Callahan's no-hitter came on May 10, when the Lakers beat North Country 8-0. He struck out six and walked one.
Tandy's no-hitter came three days earlier, when Colchester defeated Burlington 6-0. He struck out 11.
Tandy's effort was the first no-hitter recorded by a Colchester pitcher since 1997.
The South Burlington girls lacrosse team (10-1) avenged its only loss of the season when it beat Middlebury 11-10 on May 12. Middlebury won the earlier meeting 14-13.
The Brattleboro boys are 12-2 overall, but have yet to lose to an in-state opponent. Brattleboro's losses came against two Massachusetts schools: Northampton (6-1) and Amherst Regional (12-6).
ON THE FAST TRACK
South Burlington's Kayla Gilding set four records at the annual Metro freshman track and field meet at Essex High School.
Gilding won the 100-meter dash (12.62 seconds), the 200 (26.70) and the 400 (58.45) in record time. Her other record came in the long jump. She cleared 17 feet, 1.25 inches.
Despite Gilding's effort, the Essex girls won the meet with 119 points.
Katy Ranaldo scored five goals, including the 100th of her high school career, to lead the Rice girls lacrosse team to an 18-7 triumph over Lamoille on Wednesday.
The victory raised Rice's record to 14-1.
Roger Brown is a freelance writer who has been reporting on high school sports in New England since 1992.