ST. ALBANS — The Comet softball program celebrated the 500th win for longtime coach Bert Berthiaume on Friday afternoon after defeating Burlington 16-0 in five innings.
After the final out in the top of the fifth, the Comets left the field to start the celebration, donning 500 win T-shirts and bringing out a banner complete with season records for the 34 years Berthiaume has coached.
This year’s Comets weren’t the only ones present to celebrate; Comets from seasons passed joined this year’s group to congratulate Berthiaume on his success at the helm.
BFA St. Albans celebrates with Berthiaume:
Comet Assistant Coach Anne Sargent: “Thirty-three years ago, I started coaching with him. We didn’t have the budget to pay an assistant, so I just coached for nothing. It was all for the glory of starting what we have here.
“The trust we have with one another is huge. We’ve had a long road together and so many great moments. It’s been a nice, long ride. No matter what my day is like, I come to these guys, and you can’t beat that.”
BFA Athletic Director Dan Marlow: “I can remember Jim Bashaw saying, ‘You know the special thing about Bert is that he doesn’t let anything bother him. He just lets it roll off of him.’
“Because he has that demeanor and he cares so much, the ‘Believe’ is a way of life, and it’s a pretty special thing for him. This is what happens when you stay and persevere, and you’re there for the right reasons.
“He always retains the same attitude — wins or losses. It’s not about the final destination, it’s about the journey that gets you there, and his journey is based on character and values.”
In Bert’s words: “I’ve reflected all day about all the kids I’ve had in the past. I went through the photo albums with all the kids I’ve coached; it was a nostalgic day for me. To wrap it up with this group of kids this afternoon is pretty special.”
What’s it like to be at the helm of this program for all these years? “It’s more than numbers. It’s about the kids I’ve worked with and the relationships I have with them.”
Were you nervous today? “I wasn’t nervous; I’m confident in our team. I didn’t realize that one of my former players, Ellen Atherton, and her dad are coaching the Burlington team. She joined us in the alumni picture, which was pretty cool.”
Who’d you like to thank? “The people who need to be thanked are my assistant coaches over the years: Ann Sargent, Kevin McGinn, Jeff Moulton, and Mary Brouillette. Everett Johnson was my pitching coach for many years and helped us develop our pitching staff. He’s no longer with us, but his spirit is always here.
“Ralph Halbach has worked with our pitchers for years and our Little League coaches — all the people who’ve given their time. It’s not done by one guy wearing a hat as the varsity coach; it’s been a whole community of people who’ve continued to be dedicated to the program.
“I have also had the support of my family to pursue the passion that I have for coaching; I have appreciated the support, patience, and sacrifices that my family has made for me to pursue coaching over the years.”
The 500th win:
Caitlyn Dasaro kept Burlington’s bats quiet in the top of the first, and Taylor Baldwin led off with a single in the bottom of the inning. Baldwin, Cora Thomas, and Kylie Neveau all crossed the plate on passed balls, giving the Comets a 4-0 lead at the end of the first.
Jumping to an early lead: Dasaro returned to the circle in the second, quickly getting three outs. Her double opened the hitting in the bottom of the second; Marin McGinn’s single sent Dasaro home. Neveau reached base on a single, and after MacKenzie Moore advanced runners, the Comets managed to tack on one run, leaving the inning with a 5-0 advantage.
Extending the lead: The Comets continued to tally runs in the third, Baldwin, Dasaro, Neveau, and Brooke Barnette each singled to score base runners. By the end of the half-inning, the Comets held a 12-0 lead.
Burlington stranded a base runner in the top of the fourth. Baldwin, Thomas (triple), Dasaro, Neveau, and Barnette each hit singles in the bottom of the fourth, scoring runners and bringing the Comets’ tally to 16.
Cora Thomas closes things out: Thomas stepped into the circle in the top of the fifth, quickly retiring three Burlington batters and ushering the afternoon’s festivities.
On the road: BFA St. Albans will be back in action tomorrow as they travel to Colchester. On Tuesday, they will travel to MVU for the annual cancer awareness game. Proceeds from this year’s game will be donated to the Vermont chapter of the American Cancer Society in honor of Linda McVicker, wife of MVU assistant coach Rich McVicker.