Tilton Softball Wins Lakes Region Championship - Tilton School

Tilton Softball Wins Lakes Region Championship

Win Marks the Program's Second Title in Three Seasons

Tilton School scored six runs in its final two trips to the plate to erase an early deficit and defeat Kimball Union Academy for its second Lakes Region title in the last three seasons. The visiting Wildcats posted four runs in the opening frame to up the pressure on the Rams offense early in the game. This was the third meeting of the season for the top two teams in the league, and Head Coach Mike Landroche P’02 said that the team was ready for the challenge. 

“We knew we could beat them, but we also knew that beating a good team three times in a season is one of the hardest things to do in sports,” says Landroche. Heading into the game the coaching staff and players reflected on the previous two matchups — won by Tilton 3-2 and 14-12, respectively — and prepared accordingly. “We came in early, did some hitting against the machine, and drove down to the field. But unlike any other game this year, that ride was unbelievably quiet.”

Contending with nerves ahead of the first pitch, Landroche notes that some of that anxiety showed up in the first inning. What he noticed most, however, was not the 4-0 hole his team was facing after a half inning, but the reaction of their starting pitcher after recording the third out. 

“Alexa Gillis came flying to the bench saying, ‘Let’s go!’ — she was so excited to get up to the plate. And we put up three runs right away,” explains Landroche. “That’s what this team has done all season. We don’t get worried when we’re down. We know we can hit the ball.”

Gillis ’25, who helped lead the resurgent offense with two hits and an RBI out of the leadoff spot, credited the team’s mentality.

“I’m not sure how we developed that kind of ‘grind it’ mentality, but it’s just something we all have,” she says. “I said coming into the game that it was going to be a dog fight, back and forth. Knowing what we were capable of coming into that was powerful.”

The two teams traded runs throughout the first four innings, with the Rams trailing 7-5 at the halfway point. When the Wildcats scored three runs in the top half of the fifth inning to make it 10-5, there was still no panic from the Black and Gold. Tilton stormed back to answer with four runs in the bottom of the fifth, thanks to a grand slam from Gailine Paquin ’27, to cut the deficit to 10-9. Paquin had also taken over in the circle at that point and held KUA scoreless in the sixth inning, setting the stage for the Rams to complete the comeback. 

After scratching out a run to tie the score in the bottom of the sixth, Gillis took advantage of a dropped ball by the opposing first basemen and raced home from third base to score what would ultimately be the winning run.

“There was actually a point this season where I was really frustrated with my baserunning,” she says with a smile. “So, I wasn’t confident at all heading into this play. But I heard my third base coach say, ‘Go, go go!’ and I thought to myself, ‘I can’t!’ Then I saw the ball drop to the ground and at that point I had to go. I just remember thinking, ‘Please, please, please!’”

Clinging to a one-run lead, Paquin — who finished 2-for-4 at the plate with four RBI — again held the Wildcats scoreless in the top of the seventh, sealing the victory for Tilton. Arienna Perry ’24 also chipped in two hits and a RBI while Zoe Twarog ’25 and Marissa Dolpies ’24 rounded out the Rams offense with a hit each.

“Honestly, I can’t even explain how good it felt,” says Gillis. “When we won during my freshman year I was a nervous wreck, so I didn’t really get to enjoy the game itself. This is such a great win, not only for our team but for Tilton as a whole.”

“It’s been such a joy to watch our more experienced players adopting the younger players and bringing them into it,” says Landroche as he reflects on the team’s recent run of success — which should continue in the spring of 2025 as the Rams only graduate three players from this year’s championship run. 

Quick to credit the coaching and support staff, Landroche mentions the contributions of Assistant Coach Jessie Elsaesser, volunteer assistants Ken Hollingsworth, Jeff Twarog, and Kirsten Chandonnet ’18, along with Jamie Dolpies as their official bookkeeper and statistician. 

“I’ve had great assistants and we’ve had strong players,” says Landroche. “I’m just trying not to get in their way and have them do what they do.”