EAST MACHIAS — Early on, seemed apparent that the Calais softball team was going to coast out of East Machias with an opening-day victory, as the Blue Devils raced out to a 10-2 lead over Washington Academy after 41/2 innings.
But the young Blue Devils didn’t count on a furious Raiders’ comeback, as Washington Academy fought hard but still came up a young short, as coach Greg Smith’s Blue Devils held on for a 10-9 victory in a mutual season opener.
The Devils gave ace pitcher Rachel Cundiff a sizable cushion, but the junior was hit on the shin with a line drive with one out in the bottom of the fifth, and the Raiders made things interesting with three sixth-inning runs off reliever Jasmine Ross.
“They just got some hits when Rachel got hurt, that was the big thing,” said Calais senior catcher Shannon Brown. “It wasn’t pretty, but we’ll take it.”
Kara Graham socked a two-run triple to left and scored on a wild pitch to power the Raiders’ surge, and coach Gary Wood’s club made it a one-run game in the seventh thanks to a single, walk and three wild pitches as Cundiff re-entered.
She got the final three outs on ground balls after the first two WA batters reached base, and the Blue Devils were able to breathe a sigh of relief.
The line drive left Cundiff with a bruise.
“I have a huge bump and a huge bruise but I’m fine,” she said. “I can still run and pitch.”
Brown was the Blue Devils’ big offensive catalyst with two hits and three RBIs, including a two-run double down the left-field line in the fourth, while Meghan Cavanaugh scored three runs from the leadoff spot in the order.
Brown’s RBI single gave Calais a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, and after the Raiders came back to tie it in the bottom half, the Devils parlayed two hits and three wild pitches into two more runs.
Calais widened its lead in the third on an RBI sacrifice bunt by Kate Cundiff, Miranda Moffett’s RBI single and Kayla Snider’s RBI groundout to second.
Smith felt his club did well with situational hitting.
“The girls did a good job bunting and moving runners into scoring position,” he said.
He also gave Ross credit for minimizing the damage in the circle while Rachel Cundiff didn’t pitch for 1 2/3 innings after getting hit on the shin. Cundiff came back to pitch the bottom of the seventh.
“Credit WA, they did a good job coming back and making it a game,” said Smith. “Luckily Rachel could come back and finish it for us.”
Like a lot of teams, the Blue Devils haven’t spent a whole lot of time outside, and that showed to some degree in the field.
“That’s what we just told the girls as the beginning of the game, just try to minimize our mistakes,” said Smith. “This was only our second time outside this year. I thought we did well, I was pleased.”
Kassidy Seeley pitched well in relief for Washington Academy, yielding no runs and no hits while walking nobody in the sixth and seventh innings, giving the Raiders a chance to come back.