ORONO, Maine – Even though Monday afternoon’s softball game with Foxcroft Academy wasn’t necessarily a must-win for Orono, the Red Riots needed a jumpstart to their season after losing two of their first three contests.
Coach Bill Cowan’s club trailed on two different occasions but rallied to tie the game each time, and Jade Keezer’s RBI single to center field gave Orono a dramatic 8-7, eight-inning victory at the high school field.
Jill Tuell led off the bottom of the eighth with a deep double down the left-field line, and Keezer deposited a 3-0 pitch into center to help her Riots improve to 2-2 and dip Foxcroft to 3-1.
“It was right above the plate, I just crushed it,” said Keezer, who had the green light in that situation. “I just wanted to hit it so we could score the run, and that’s what happened.”
Orono led 4-2 after three innings, but the Ponies fought back with a three-run rally in the fifth sparked by an RBI base hit by Sam Snyder and Vanessa Lougee’s RBI double which gave the guests their first lead at 5-4.
Elizabeth Fox laced an RBI triple in the bottom half of the inning to tie it back up for Orono, and while the Riots regained the lead in the sixth on Keezer’s RBI single to center, Lougee knocked in two more runs with another deep double in the seventh to give the Ponies a 7-6 lead.
Fox reached on an error leading off the seventh, and courtesy runner Leah Bryant came home on freshman Chloe Douglass’ RBI double to center.
“That was unbelievable, she’s really going to be great in the next couple years,” said Riots’ senior second baseman Chloe Paul. “She [already] is this year.”
Both teams hit the ball well – the Riots gathered 14 hits and Foxcroft 10 – so Orono wasn’t panicking once the Ponies took the lead in the top of the seventh.
“We made a few errors but we picked ourselves back up and we got the win,” said Keezer.
Keezer helped lead a balanced Orono offense with three hits, two RBIs and two runs while Alyssa Bates collected three singles out of the No. 9 spot in the order. Kristen Douglass and Riley Mahan drove in runs with singles while Fox went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Paul felt it was Orono’s best outburst with the bats so far in the young season.
“I thought so, I thought better than most games,” she said. “We still have some things to work on but we definitely improved from last game.”
Ponies’ coach Curt Lombard wasn’t complaining about his offense either.
“We’ve been hitting the ball pretty well, we just made a couple mistakes we’ve got to work on in practice,” said Lombard, whose club played in Class B last spring.
Keezer knew this was a pivotal game for the Riots after some tough losses to start the season.
“Foxcroft’s coming down from Class B and we just needed to win because they’re a really good team,” she said.
Lougee finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs for Foxcroft while Bekah Flanders picked up a single and a double while driving in two runs and scoring another. Snyder went 1-for-4 with an RBI and two runs.