What best describes Brattleboro Union High School softball pitcher Kayla Wood in Wednesday’s Division I softball state championship game against Missisquoi?
Masterful? Nope, too understated.
Dominant? Barely adequate.
Sensational? Terrific? Spectacular? Ah, just not perfect.
Perfect. That’s it. Wood was perfect, as in a nine-inning, 20-strikeout, no-one-reaches-base kind of perfect.
Wood mowed through Missisquoi batters for nine innings, never letting a single Thunderbird reach first base as she outdueled MVU’s Dakota Raleigh, 1-0, on Legion Field in Veterans Memorial Park.
The game’s winning run finally scored on one of the very few mistakes by either pitcher, a two-out wild pitch by Raleigh with a Colonel on third. That occurred only a minute after the No. 5 Thunderbirds (16-4) pulled off a fine double play, bringing Missisquoi within one out of getting to the 10th inning.
The bottom of the ninth began with Bailey Paige’s single, only the third hit off Raleigh. Maddy Derosia followed with a double to right center, Paige holding at third.
The next batter, Haley Struthers ripped a line drive to left that MVU’s Sommer Libby grabbed. Paige broke for home and Libby’s throw to catcher Molly Metayer was in plenty of time. Paige broke back toward third but third baseman Katie Campbell completed the rundown with the tag for the second out.
Had Campbell then turned toward third, she might have had a shot at a triple play on Derosia sliding in. Instead, two pitches later, Derosia dashed home with the game-winning run and the state championship as a Raleigh pitch sailed to the backstop.
The rest of the game belonged to the pitchers overall and Wood in particular. She struck out the first 11 Thunderbirds she faced, retiring Missisquoi on nine pitches in the second and fourth innings. Twenty-eight of her first 29 pitches were strikes. Only eight of her 97 pitches were balls.
“She was unbelievable. Kayla is amazing,” said Brattleboro coach Kelly Markol. “She pitched better than I’ve ever seen her pitch today. It is staggering, but you know what? That’s Kayla Wood.”
Wood was a little less impressed with her performance. “I don’t think it was my best game but I was definitely more on my game than I have been,” she said. “When we played Colchester (in the semifinals), I wasn’t as on my game but I really had it today.
“I pretty much just threw a rise and a changeup,” Wood said. “I caught them off balance.”
Missisquoi coach Jay Hartman said, “We had no answer for her. All year long we have put pressure after pressure, game after game, on the other team and today we literally weren’t able to do anything with her.”
The closest any Thunderbird came to reaching safely was an opposite liner by Kate Campbell that just fell foul with two outs in the eighth. Missisquoi also had four pop-ups, two groundouts and a failed bunt attempt.
Raleigh (10 strikeouts, 1 walk, 4 hits) wasn’t collecting strikeouts at Wood’s rate, but the only two Colonels to reach before Daisy Giroux’s two-out, fifth inning single did so on errors.
“Dakota threw a great game. She kept us off balance and we were chasing pitches,” said Markol, whose third-seeded Colonels finished at 17-2-1. “We got lucky. You’ve got to capitalize on those mistakes and we did on that one mistake.”