BENNINGTON -- There is no such thing as a "good loss" in sports.
But as Mount Anthony Union High School softball coach Katie Contrada assessed her team's performance in a 5-3 loss to Brattleboro on Thursday, Contrada was still full of praise for her 13-2 team.
"I don't think we lost any confidence, I didn't lose any confidence with them," Contrada said. "It just didn't go our way today. I don't know what else to say, I'm not disappointed in my team. We played well, we just didn't come out on top."
If anything, Contrada left the softball field with more ideas on how to get her team firing with the start of the playoffs less than a week away.
"Sometimes, you learn more from a loss than you do a win. Now, we saw some things we have to work on for the playoffs," Contrada said. "It is what it is."
Of course, Contrada's assessment should take nothing away from the Colonels (10-6), who end the regular season on a high note behind a stout performance from starter Hannah Wilson.
"Today we just came out and played with heart," said Brattleboro assistant coach Albert Woods. "Hannah pitched a great game. She moved the ball around and kept it low and was able to induce a lot of pop ups and groundouts."
The Colonels were also buoyed at the plate in the first inning, as Maddy Derosia smacked a two-run single to start the scoring before another Colonel run came across on an error by pitcher Jenna Crowley.
"It definitely helps," Wilson said of the run support in the first. "It gets us going and it gets us pumped up and lets us know that we can definitely hit the ball and get some runs."
Wilson then came out, inducing three groundouts in the first and faced only four batters in the second to keep the score at 3-0.
In the third, Crowley, who pitched four innings in the losing effort while giving up three hits, four earned runs, five walks and three strikeouts, turned a 1-4 double play when she caught a liner then fired to Kori Bow to end the inning.
The out pumped some life into MAU, which responded by grabbing its first run of the game in the bottom of the inning when Keira Goodell hit an RBI single to plate Morgan Hewitt.
The Patriots looked poised to add on after Goodell's hit, as Baylee Ports hit an infield single to load the bases.
But then Wilson forced Kate Goodell to home for the second out. The next batter, Julie Elwell, put the ball in play, but the umpire called Ports out for interfering with the shortstop, ending the inning and the jam.
"I thought, with the bases loaded and that call on Baylee, that really changed the momentum," Contrada said. "That was the inning right there, we had it. I thought Julie would have been safe at first."
And with that call still fresh in the minds of all the players, the Colonels came out in the top of the fourth and effectively put the game to bed when Daisy Giroux hit a two-run single to give Brattleboro the 5-1 edge.
In the fourth, two Brattleboro players were injured after a collision in the outfield
Kori Bow ripped a shot into center field that Alex Derosia lined up. But as Derosia raised her glove to bring the ball in, left fielder Casey Manning went for the ball as well and the two collided. The ball popped out of Derosia's glove, and in the mayhem, Bow reached third.
The game was delayed for 20 minutes after the incident. Both got up, with Derosia staying in the game and Manning coming out.
With a runner on third and no outs, MAU had three cracks to get Bow in, but Wilson forced two groundouts to short between a strikeout to end the inning.
"It was nerve-wracking when our teammates were out there, but we know that they are tough and that they can pull through anything and be there for us," Wilson said. "To get those three outs, it made sure that we didn't fall apart right there and that we stayed strong."
MAU pulled two runs back in the sixth, but Hewitt fanned and Kate Goodell flew out with runners on second and third to end the rally.
"[MAU] can hit one through nine in the order. I was just keeping the pitches low," Woods said. "Anything up in the zone, they are going to take it. [Wilson] stayed very composed, probably one of the most composed games I've seen from her this year."
Giroux and Farrara were the lone players to get multiple hits in the game, with both going 2-4 from the dish. Ports pitched the final three innings for MAU. Wilson, who pitched a complete game, gave up seven hits and one earned run while striking out four and walking one.