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Ace in the hole

Lachapelle's fast ascent keyed Eagles' run

by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

Gilford sophomore Sarah Lachapelle, pictured here in the playoffs against Hopkinton, burst onto the pitching scene for the varsity softball team this spring, winning 11 games for the Eagles. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
June 16, 2014
GILFORD — With how quickly Sarah Lachapelle acclimated herself to varsity pitching, it was easy to forget that the Gilford High School right-hander was just a sophomore this season.

But there she was, right in the middle of things as the Golden Eagles battled Hopkinton in a heavyweight bout where the two evenly-matched teams traded blows inning by inning. For Lachapelle, who took over for four-year starter and 500-strikeout club member Sydney Strout, merely staying within herself throughout the entire season was the goal facing varsity hitters.

"I kind of went into this game just like I have every other game," said Lachapelle after her team fell to the Hawks, 9-8, to close out their season with a 11-6 record. "This was all pretty new to me so I tried to keep the ball away and make good pitches."

Lachapelle impressed her teammates and coaches throughout the season, as she not only won 11 games but also supplied a big bat in the middle of the order. As a freshman in 2013, she was used simply as a designated hitter during her rookie campaign. But the role shifted significantly this time around.

"Sarah pitched an incredible game against a very tough lineup," said GHS head coach Joan Forge after the Hopkinton loss. "For a sophomore, she has such composure out there. She got us out of bases loaded situations twice."

Forge wasn't the only one impressed with the young hurler however.

"Sarah surpassed all of my expectations this year," said senior outfielder Mikaela Mattice, who went 4-for-5 in the playoff game. "It was definitely very different going from last year's team to this year's team with all the new faces. But I couldn't believe how composed she was throughout the entire year."

While Gilford will once again lose some key seniors to graduation for next year's team, the 2015 edition of the Eagles will still have a good core in place, led by Lachapelle in the pitching circle.

"It's been an amazing season," she said. "I didn't really expect to do as well right away, I just went into the season saying I have to throw strikes and go from there. I've never been in a role like this on a high school softball team so I'm really happy with how this year went. And the girls on the team were great, they really helped take the pressure off of me."

Lachapelle finished the season with four shutouts, and Gilford allowed just an average of 4.0 runs per game during the team's 11-6 season. She pitched particularly well in wins over Franklin (10-2) and Farmington (5-0), a pair of dangerous tournament teams. Forge called Lachapelle's performance against Farmington the team's best of the year, as she struck out six and didn't walk a batter while allowing merely three hits in the shutout win. She also tossed shutouts against Inter-Lakes (twice) and Somersworth.

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