HOWLAND, Maine — Penobscot Valley softball coach David Milton has been waiting for his offense to erupt.
He got his wish Friday afternoon, as the Howlers kicked off the second half of their season by banging out 17 runs on 12 hits in a 17-4, five-inning victory over Piscataquis Community of Guilford in a Class C matchup at Hutchinson Field.
The Howlers jumped on the board quickly with a five-run first-inning uprising, with Brittney Pike driving in two of the runs with a sharp single to right field.
Kristina Hallett plated another run in the frame with an RBI single while Molly Thompson drove in Casey McCloskey, who led it off with a walk, with a grounder to first.
The feisty Pirates came back with four runs in the third, sparked by Samara Cooper’s two-run single, while Maggie Abbott collected an RBI with a bases-loaded walk.
It was in that inning PVHS starting shortstop Kirstie Dawson was inadvertently spiked by a Piscataquis runner sliding into third and she had to leave the game with a scraped leg.
“I think they started to bear down after [Dawson] got spiked. That’s when I think it was like, we’ve got to bear down now and start playing ball,” said Milton.
Senior righthander McCloskey, who compiled nine strikeouts in her five innings of work to help her club improve to 5-3 on the spring, allowed only two more baserunners after the Pirates sent 10 batters to the plate in the third.
McCloskey and her teammates got their bats cranking again after that, scoring four times in the fourth and eight in the fifth to force the 12-run rule.
McCloskey, who scattered five hits, figured in both of those innings with an RBI single in the fourth and a two-run double to the center-field fence in the fifth.
Kristina Batchelder plated a run with a single in the fourth while Pike singled in another in the fifth.
She and McCloskey sparked the Howlers offensively with three RBIs apiece while Ariel Vanadestine drove in a run with a fielders’ choice, singled and scored twice.
PVHS was also aggressive on the basepaths, stealing 10 bases while taking advantage of passed balls and wild pitches.
“It’s a little bit of everything: Timely hits, stealing a base here and there, manufacturing runs when they can really produce them,” Milton said.
Milton was also impressed with the way his club’s offense responded after being held to two hits in a recent loss.
“We played Orono the other night, we had two hits and lost 4-2,” he said. “We’re starting to make contact and that’s the beginning of it.”
The Pirates, who didn’t win a game last season, kept their heads up, and the scorebook didn’t reflect how hard they played.
“We are definitely improving. Tonight was not so much fun, but we’ve had a couple of really good games, the girls have really come a long ways,” coach Karna Johnson said.
Cooper went 2-for-3 with two singles, two RBIs and a run for 4-6 PCHS while Annie Agnew and Emily Knight each singled and scored.