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Full steam ahead

Woodsville sophomore Katie Davis, who turned 16 years old last Wednesday, gave up just one hit in back-to-back wins last week. Michael Beniash. (click for larger version)
May 06, 2009
WOODSVILLE—Katie Davis was in for a surprise. After all, it was the sophomore pitcher's 16th birthday and she had just mowed down the final Lisbon batter during a 12-strikeout, one-hit gem of a performance last Wednesday. Then came her gift. From behind, an obliging Woodsville teammate doused her with an ice-cold water bath—much to Davis' disapproval. However, it didn't take her long to invert that frown.

The way the Lady Engineers have been playing softball, there isn't much that can keep them down.

Three wins on consecutive days in three different fashions last week pushed the white-hot Engineers (6-1) to their fifth straight victory and into sole possession of second place in the Class S standings (as of Sunday).

"We're hot," said co-coach Glenn Hatch. "We're hitting the ball and putting it in play. We're growing in confidence and our pitcher is getting better every time out."

Last Tuesday, Woodsville scored three runs in its final at-bat to down a tough Blue Mountain Union (Vt.) squad, 7-6 for the walk-off win—its second triumph over its cross-river rival this year. A day later, the Engineers whipped previously unbeaten Lisbon 23-0 on the road, and then blanked Lin-Wood 4-0 last Thursday.

"That was a huge test and we knew it was going to be tough," said Hatch, whose team has just three upperclassmen, but doesn't make many underclassmen mistakes on the field. "I'm glad they were quality teams and we were able to beat them. We've got quite a bit of momentum right now."

Davis, who has been fighting off a quadriceps injury and is finally getting closer to 100 percent healthy, was the winning pitcher in all three. Against Lisbon, she allowed just one hit and didn't let a runner get past second base. For an encore, Davis allowed just two walks as she no-hit Lin-Wood. She has 34 strikeouts in the three-game surge.

"Katie has worked hard all winter," Hatch said. "I am pretty proud of her right now. It's a reward for all the work she's put in."

Over the past five games Woodsville owns three shutouts and has outscored the enemy 62-11. Its only loss of the season came in the squad's second contest, a 9-8 loss to Gorham. In the opener it went toe-to-toe with Littleton, a team much stronger than its pedestrian 3-4 mark, for a hard-fought, 7-6 extra-inning triumph.

"It's kind of the goal to be in the top four for the playoffs and we have a good record halfway through," said Hatch, whose team reached the Class S semifinals a year ago for the first time ever. "We're really excited to maybe have that chance again and we're working toward that."

Beyond Davis' solid pitching has been a rock-solid offensive approach. Hatch and his fellow coaches have preached the goal of limiting strikeouts and putting the ball in play.

The Engineers have scored in the first inning in all seven games and have yet to be held under four runs.

"We've really worked hard in practice on putting the ball in play. When you put pressure on the defense, good things will happen," Hatch said.

Next up for Woodsville are road clashes with two tough Northern squads. The Engineers meet Groveton today and then challenge Colebrook on Friday.

"Those will be tough tests," Hatch said. "Those are good teams and we'll have to travel a long distance."

While the season is still young and it's much too early to pop the cork, Woodsville, a team oozing with confidence and swagger, is certainly making a strong case to go the distance when the playoffs arrive in June.

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