D-III softball: Oxbow’s record rout nets fourth straight championship

Oxbow’s softball team poses with their Division III state championship trophy — their fourth in four years — following the team’s 37-2 win over Bellows Falls in Castleton, Vt., on June 15, 2024. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Oxbow’s softball team poses with their Division III state championship trophy — their fourth in four years — following the team’s 37-2 win over Bellows Falls in Castleton, Vt., on June 15, 2024. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Geoff Hansen

Oxbow’s Abby Longto slides in safely under the tag by Bellows Falls catcher Jaelyn Fletcher in the first inning of their Division III state championship game in Castleton, Vt., on June 15, 2024. Bellows Falls committed seven errors during Oxbow’s seven-hit, 14-run inning. The Olympians won, 37-2, for their fourth championship in four years. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Oxbow’s Abby Longto slides in safely under the tag by Bellows Falls catcher Jaelyn Fletcher in the first inning of their Division III state championship game in Castleton, Vt., on June 15, 2024. Bellows Falls committed seven errors during Oxbow’s seven-hit, 14-run inning. The Olympians won, 37-2, for their fourth championship in four years. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news photographs — Geoff Hansen

As seen through the backstop, Oxbow coach Chuck Simmons gives Noemi Rosa encouragement as she is introduced before their Division III state championship against Bellows Falls in Castleton, Vt., on June 15, 2024. Oxbow won, 37-2, for their fourth title in four years. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

As seen through the backstop, Oxbow coach Chuck Simmons gives Noemi Rosa encouragement as she is introduced before their Division III state championship against Bellows Falls in Castleton, Vt., on June 15, 2024. Oxbow won, 37-2, for their fourth title in four years. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

In the opening stanza, Oxbow’s Hadlee Allen hits a ground ball before Bellows Falls catcher Jaelyn Fletcher, umpire Don Taylor and a crowd of 341 during their Division III state championship in Castleton, Vt., on June 15, 2024. Oxbow scored 14 runs in the first inning and won, 37-2. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

In the opening stanza, Oxbow’s Hadlee Allen hits a ground ball before Bellows Falls catcher Jaelyn Fletcher, umpire Don Taylor and a crowd of 341 during their Division III state championship in Castleton, Vt., on June 15, 2024. Oxbow scored 14 runs in the first inning and won, 37-2. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

Oxbow’s Anastase Bourgeois pitches to her sister, catcher Mazie Bourgeois, during their Division III state championship game against Bellows Falls in Castleton, Vt., on June 15, 2024. Anastase struck out 11 over five innings, with one earned run. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Oxbow’s Anastase Bourgeois pitches to her sister, catcher Mazie Bourgeois, during their Division III state championship game against Bellows Falls in Castleton, Vt., on June 15, 2024. Anastase struck out 11 over five innings, with one earned run. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

In the second inning Oxbow shortstop Abby Longto is hugged by pitcher Anastase Bourgeois (17) after Longto fielded a ground ball from Bellows Falls’ Natalie Noyes, throwing Noyes out at first base while on her knees during their Division III state championship game in Castleton, Vt., on June 15, 2024. Oxbow won, 37-2, for their fourth title in four years. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

In the second inning Oxbow shortstop Abby Longto is hugged by pitcher Anastase Bourgeois (17) after Longto fielded a ground ball from Bellows Falls’ Natalie Noyes, throwing Noyes out at first base while on her knees during their Division III state championship game in Castleton, Vt., on June 15, 2024. Oxbow won, 37-2, for their fourth title in four years. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

By BEN HOOKE

Valley News Correspondent

Published: 06-17-2024 3:02 AM

Modified: 06-18-2024 1:10 PM


CASTLETON, Vt. — If a softball team as special as the Oxbow Olympians were to make history, they just couldn’t do it in any ordinary way.

In front of a loud and large traveling support section that made the nearly two-hour drive from Bradford to Castleton, the Olympians won their 48th consecutive game — and fourth consecutive VPA Division III state title — by annihilating second-seeded Bellows Falls by a state championship record score of 37-2.

The win also gives Oxbow its 12th state title in softball, moving it out of a three-way tie with Brattleboro and Peoples Academy for the most in Vermont history.

“I’ve had these girls since Little League, and I’m super proud of the hard work they put in,” Oxbow coach Chuck Simmons said. “They support one another and get incredible support from their families, and that helps so much.”

From the moment the game started, the Olympians had a clear advantage at the plate and pressed it, taking full advantage of a plethora of Bellows Falls errors to pile on run after run.

Oxbow scored on its second at-bat of the day, when catcher Mazie Bourgeois’ double gave the Bellows Falls outfield enough trouble for her to round all four bases, and simply expanded from there, scoring a whopping 14 runs in the opening inning to all but end the game before it had hardly started.

While the Olympians couldn’t match their opening output in successive innings, they still scored plenty, putting 10 and seven runs on the board in the second and third innings to reach a staggering score of 31-0 with the game less than halfway done.

From there, though, Oxbow let the foot off the gas, subbing in a number of bench players and limiting their aggression on the basepaths to avoid running up the score to a truly ridiculous level.

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After 31 runs in their first three innings, the O’s managed just six in their final three while allowing two Bellows Falls RBIs to reach the final score.

The 37-2 finish breaks two 26-year-old state final records, with Oxbow taking both the mark for highest score and largest margin of victory from Danville’s 26-1 drubbing of Rochester in 1998’s D-IV championship game.

Every Oxbow starter crossed the plate, led by Mazie Bourgeois with six runs in six plate appearances. The sophomore, who forms an all-Bourgeois battery with her older sister Anastase, also recorded two doubles and two triples.

The elder Bourgeois won her fourth consecutive state championship start from the circle, totaling 11 strikeouts, three hits and a lone earned run in five innings of work. While worse than her stellar one-hit complete game in 2023, the junior had huge support from the Oxbow section that claimed roughly 75% of the available bleacher space at the Castleton Athletic Complex, as well as from her sister behind the plate.

“Having her (Mazie) catch is a big help,” Bourgeois said. “She’s always smiling before I pitch, and she always jumps right up when I get a strikeout. It makes it fun.”

Oxbow will graduate three influential senior starters in leadoff hitter Hadlee Allen, outfielder Lily LaHaye and infielder Faith Eastman, leaving the team with some challenges in their quest for an unprecedented fifth consecutive state title.

“Keep working 10 times harder in practice and give it our all every day” said Bourgeois when asked how the team could return to the state title game.

But for a team with as much talent and as much fervent support as the Olympians have, anything feels possible.

“This amount of support … I think that’s what drives the girls. Just knowing that their family and the community is there for them and care,” Simmons said. “It’s a community effort, it really is.”