Sophomore Kelsey Buckley connects on a pitch during Gilford’s win over Prospect Mountain. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
April 16, 2012GILFORD – After making it all the way to the Division III semifinals a year ago, the Gilford High School softball team picked right up where it left off during the first week of this season. The Golden Eagles started the 2012 season with a perfect 3-0 week, as the squad earned wins over Belmont, Franklin and Prospect Mountain to get off on the right track.
Things got started with a convincing 10-0 win over Belmont on April 9, as junior pitcher Sydney Strout allowed just two hits in her first shutout of the season. The Gilford softball team had a shut out on their home Opening Day by beating Belmont 10-0. Catcher Paige Laliberte went three-for-four at bat with a triple and pitcher Strout went two-for-three and struck out eight in the circle in route to the victory. Gilford only committed one defensive error and Strout walked just one batter on the afternoon.
The Eagles jumped on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first inning, as the squad scored three runs and took advantage of three walks and two hit batters. Strout led off with a single, Mollie Dignan was hit by a pitch, and Lisa Osborne walked to load the bases. Strout scored on a wild pitch for Gilford's first run. Abby Harris hit a single to score Dignan, and Hannah Chase drew a bases loaded walk to score Harris.
Gilford scored two more runs in the second inning when Osborne walked, Laliberte singled and Kelsey Buckley hit a two-run single to score Osborne and Laliberte.
The Eagles would score two more in the fifth inning, when Buckley led off with a walk and scored on a Chase single. Chase would come around on a Strout single.
Gilford closed out its scoring with three more in the sixth inning when Osborne walked, Laliberte singled and Harris walked to load the bases. Alyssa Wilson singled to drive in Osborne and then Laliberte and Harris were able to score on a Belmont error.
Gilford renewed its rivalry with Franklin on April 11, as the Eagles knocked off the Tornadoes, 4-3, in a huge early season game at Odell Park in Franklin.
Strout struck out nine, gave up five hits and walked one to pick up the victory in the circle. The junior was also two-for-four at the plate and she scored two runs.
In the top of the first, Strout had a leadoff single and got to second on a throwing error. Laliberte followed with an RBI single to score Strout and give the Eagles a quick 1-0 lead.
The lead grew in the third inning, as Gilford put one more on the board when Strout again hit a leadoff single and advanced to second on an error. Osborne came through with an RBI single to extend the advantage to 2-0.
Franklin scored one in the bottom of the fourth on a home run by Jill Roberts to make it a 2-1 game but GHS scored two runs in the sixth when Laliberte hit a single and stole second. Harris hit a single to score Laliberte and Harris eventually scored on an error to make it a 4-1 game.
Franklin came back in the bottom of the sixth with two runs to get within 4-3, but Strout struck out two in the seventh and got a ground out to second to end the game and secure the victory.
The week came to a satisfying conclusion on April 13, as the Eagles jumped out to a 4-0 lead and held on for a 4-2 victory over Prospect Mountain in Alton.
Strout struck out eight, walked none and gave up just two hits to earn her third win of the week.
Gilford broke open a 0-0 tie in the top of the third when Strout hit a single and scored on a Harris single to left field. Osborne drew a walk and both Osborne and Harris scored on a Buckley single giving Gilford a 3-0 lead.
Gilford added one more in the fifth when Osborne singled and scored on a Laliberte double to center field.
The eight-hit Gilford offense was led by Laliberte, who went two-for-four at the plate with a single, double and RBI. Defensively, Brid Fillion turned a double play at second base, Laliberte picked off a runner at first base from her catcher spot and Buckley had a spectacular catch in right field for the second out in the bottom of the seventh inning.