Girls JV softball tops O’Bryant in high-scoring contest, 23-16

Kayla Olivier swings at an O’Bryant pitch. - Sam Moore

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School girls junior varsity softball team improved to 6-9 on the season with a resounding 23-16 win over John O’Bryant High School on Monday. On a day when high winds were a factor for both pitchers and fielders, the Vineyarders hung tough, made big plays, and earned a solid win.

The varsity team also beat O’Bryant 10-7 in the blustery conditions. Every varsity player had a hit, 17 in all. Pitcher Jessica Sonia struck out 10, and helped her cause with a double at the plate. Emily Turney was 4 for 4 with three triples and four RBIs, and Cana Courtney was 2 for 3 with a triple.

On the JV team, MV sophomores Tiki Greene and Amanda Pachico led the offense with four hits apiece, while classmate Baylee Francis added three of her own. Both Tiki and Baylee slugged home runs.

“A lot of our girls are basically beginners,” said Coach Danielle Pappas. “They’re learning the game. But they are a very coachable group. We stress fundamentals and the importance of playing as a team.”

That philosophy was in evidence on Monday. In the third inning, O’Bryant had runners at first and third with two out. When the runner at first broke for second on a steal attempt, sophomore catcher Kayla Oliver threw a strike to shortstop Rachaya Jette for the tag, ending the inning. This kind of alert, well-executed play is what the coaches are looking for, and have been seeing. This is a team that is mentally involved: Bases are being covered, throws are being backed up, everyone is hustling.

“Some of the teams we play are much more advanced than we are,” said Coach Pappas. “It was discouraging for a while when we’d get crushed by really experienced teams. But we’re learning the game and becoming more confident. We’re improving.”

The emphasis on team is also apparent. The girls are positive and mutually supportive; there’s good communication on the field and plenty of high-fives around the bench. That spirit is reflected in the stands. Despite the blustery conditions and dubious temperatures, a sizable crowd of enthusiastic, albeit bundled-up, parents and friends were on hand to root for the girls.

That enthusiasm and support are much deserved by this determined, lively, and increasingly skilled team.