After losing Borges, ConVal softball falls to H-B

ConVal junior captain Olivia Riley pitches in relief after Sydney Borges was hit by a line drive and forced to exit the game.

ConVal junior captain Olivia Riley pitches in relief after Sydney Borges was hit by a line drive and forced to exit the game. PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

ConVal junior captain Avery Moore gives Chloe Hamlin props for her game-tying RBI bunt.

ConVal junior captain Avery Moore gives Chloe Hamlin props for her game-tying RBI bunt. PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

ConVal junior Brynn Frosch slides in with the tying run. 

ConVal junior Brynn Frosch slides in with the tying run.  PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

ConVal freshman Chloe Hamlin gets an RBI bunt down against Hollis-Brookline.

ConVal freshman Chloe Hamlin gets an RBI bunt down against Hollis-Brookline. PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

ConVal sophomore Ivy Armstrong-McEvoy makes a diving catch at first base against Hollis-Brookline Monday.

ConVal sophomore Ivy Armstrong-McEvoy makes a diving catch at first base against Hollis-Brookline Monday. PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

ConVal freshman Sydney Borges delivers a pitch during the Cougars’ 8-1 extra-inning loss to visiting Hollis-Brookline in Peterborough on Monday.

ConVal freshman Sydney Borges delivers a pitch during the Cougars’ 8-1 extra-inning loss to visiting Hollis-Brookline in Peterborough on Monday. PHOTO BY BEN CONANT/BEN CONANT PHOTOGRAPHY

By BEN CONANT

For the Ledger-Transcript

Published: 05-02-2024 11:32 AM

Modified: 05-02-2024 12:14 PM


Throw the final score out the window – ConVal’s 8-1 loss to visiting Hollis-Brookline Monday featured 7½ innings of playoff-caliber softball before being derailed by a shocking injury.

“The bad part is nobody will know how great that game was if they weren’t at the game, because it looks like it wasn’t a great game,” ConVal head coach Amanda Hinton said. “But when you turn around and you’re like, ‘Oh, that was the eighth inning, it was 1-1, and it was a fantastic game.’ All the people that were here were lucky because we got to see that game. And I was lucky to see that game too.”

ConVal freshman pitcher Sydney Borges has been the story of this softball spring so far, averaging 16 strikeouts per game, including a 21-strikeout, extra-inning performance in the Cougars’ win over Pelham last week. She has been the biggest reason that ConVal started their season at a surprising 5-0.

“She’s just amazing,” said ConVal’s junior captain, catcher Avery Moore. “Every time she gets a strikeout, I’m just so in awe of how she does it, because pitching is so incredibly hard. I’ve been playing softball for so long and I’ve seen so many girls learn how to pitch and they start literally throwing balls everywhere. For her to get from that point to now and just being able to strike out girl after girl is just amazing. She’s amazing.”

Borges continued to amaze on Monday, amassing another 15 strikeouts through seven innings while allowing just three hits.

Hollis-Brookline was able to scrape across one run in the sixth inning on two walks and two hit batters, but for the rest of regulation, Borges was dominant, and her defense backed her up.

“Syd was great when she was on the mound, but they also made some really great plays behind her too, which was different, because normally I don’t get that a lot because she’s such a good strikeout pitcher,” Hinton said. “So I thought that that was really important.”

Hollis-Brookline senior pitcher Kailey Disco was nearly as good, striking out seven over eight innings while allowing eight ConVal hits. The resilient Cougars bounced back from the Cavaliers’ sixth-inning score, playing some small ball with a Brynn Frosch single, a Ivy Armstrong-McEvoy bunt and then an RBI bunt from freshman Chloe Hamlin.

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All tied up at one, the game went into extra innings, and that’s where the contest took a turn for the worse. After Hollis-Brookline loaded the bases and brought Disco to the plate, Borges fired a fastball that was ripped on a line back to the pitcher, striking her on the face mask and knocking her to the mound. Borges, her face mask dented and her forehead bruised, seemed to have avoided a serious injury, but she was forced from the game.

“Syd throws fast,” Hinton said. “When it comes off the bat, it’s coming back at you fast, and it sure came back at her pretty fast. It was pretty devastating.”

Hinton had no choice but to bring in an emergency reliever, selecting junior captain Olivia Riley to move over from short. The Cavaliers had already scored the go-ahead run on the comebacker, and they added a few more before Riley eventually got up to speed and got out of the inning with the score at 8-1. ConVal gave it their all in the bottom half but couldn’t score, and the Cougars had their first loss of the season.

It’s the first big bump in the road for ConVal this spring, but the Cougars have already exceeded expectations in what was meant to be a rebuilding year following the loss of eight players from last year’s roster due to graduation and relocation.

“Honestly, this team has surprised me,” Moore said. “I didn’t think we were going be this good going into the season and we’ve been doing amazing. Our hitting’s awesome, our energy’s awesome, we’re great teammates and Sydney’s pulling us through – but not just Sydney. Our defense is strong and we’re always supporting each other. And I’m really proud of everybody because, yes, this game did show what happens when we lose our starting pitcher. But as you can see, our defense didn’t give up. They were cheering [Riley] on because they believed in her. And that’s what I really like about this team.”

ConVal (5-1) was set to play at Souhegan on Wednesday afternoon and host Laconia on Friday.