ORONO, Maine — In the heat of postseason softball, the role of hero can be a difficult one to cast sometimes.
Tuesday afternoon, Orono junior Kristen Douglass calmly glided into the spotlight.
Douglass capped off a dramatic Red Riots rally, smacking a two-run double in the bottom of the seventh inning as coach Bill Cowan’s club fought back from a three-run deficit to edge Washington Academy 8-7 in Class C preliminary action.
The seventh-seeded Red Riots (9-8) take on No. 2 George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill (11-5) in a Thursday semifinal. The No. 10 Raiders finish their season 8-9.
Orono trailed 7-4 heading into the bottom of the sixth after the Raiders put together a six-run, fifth-inning rally. All the runs came with two outs.
Riley Mahan (walk) and Chloe Douglass (single) both scored on passed balls in the sixth to make it a 7-6 ballgame heading to the seventh.
Jade Keezer led off the seventh with a sharp single to left and was subsequently lifted for pinch runner Leah Bryant, who beat a throw to second on Caleigh Paul’s grounder to short.
Douglass then drove both runners home with her second two-RBI hit of the afternoon, two pitches after missing a riseball.
“It was a really good pitch right down the middle, and I just knew I had to get a hit, get those two girls in,” said Douglass. “I just knew that I had to settle down and see the pitch and make contact.”
Once the ball headed into the gap, there was no doubt in Cowan’s mind that Paul, who was on first, was going to score.
“I didn’t hesitate at all,” he said. “Caleigh can run, she’s a tough kid. She was going to score.”
Riots pitcher Andi Foster hung tough throughout. She no-hit the Raiders through the first 4ª innings, but the complexion of the game changed as Andi Flannery ripped a bases-clearing double, Bre Nicely hit an RBI single and Taylor Davis belted a two-run home run to left field to give coach Gary Wood’s club a 6-4 advantage.
Christy Smith walked and scored on a sacrifice hit by Kelly Sawyer in the sixth.
Those three hits were the only ones Foster gave up, and she finished with 11 strikeouts while keeping her poise despite four walks and a hit batter.
“In this game you have innings like that. You lose your control a little bit, they hit the ball some,” Cowan said. “The key is what you do after that, and Andi shut them down after that.”
Orono knew it had the offense to rally, so the Riots never hung their heads.
“We knew we could do it. We just had to stay positive as much as possible, keep hitting the ball,” said Douglass, who knocked in two other runs with a third-inning single.
Orono pushed across four in that frame to take a 4-0 lead, the other two coming on Paul’s fielders’ choice RBI and Mahan’s RBI groundout to first.
Even though the Raiders hit the ball hard in the fifth, their offense was too inconsistent against Foster.
“We had that one good inning. Unfortunately we couldn’t get anything else going the rest of the game,” Wood said. “They put the ball in play all day long. [It was] just a matter of time before they got those runs there at the end.”
Cowan knew his team wasn’t going to fold.
“I’ll tell you, we have overcome adversity all year,” Cowan said. “We started to play very well here at the end. I felt like the last at-bat was going to be the key in this one.”
Jill Tuell doubled and scored a run in the third for Orono while Keezer singled twice and scored in the third.