ORONO, Maine — Caribou softball coach Ryan Deprey stepped aside and let his girls make the decisions in the second game of a doubleheader Saturday against undefeated Hermon.
“The biggest adjustment in the second game was the kids telling me they wanted to swing,” Deprey said. “They didn’t want to play small ball and we didn’t score in the first one, so we may as well listen to them.”
That choice paid off as the Vikings handed the Hermon Hawks their first loss of the season, 2-0, in game two at the University of Maine’s Kessock Field. Caribou earned a split of the twin bill as Hermon took the first game 1-0.
Hermon pitcher Abby Burgess was lights out through her first six innings of the second game, but the Caribou bats broke through in the seventh with three hits and two runs to push the Vikings to victory.
After Jordyn Doucette walked to lead off the seventh, Rebecca McDougal doubled for the Vikings to put runners on second and third. Caribou pitcher Emily Staples stepped in and ripped an infield single to the shortstop hole that scored Doucette to give the Vikings a 1-0 lead. Kelsie Espling made it 2-0 with an RBI single to help seal the win.
Jamie Martin added two hits for the Vikings.
Before the seventh, Caribou only managed to collect five hits combined through the first 13 innings of the two games.
Shaniah Haskell reached base twice to lead Hermon’s offense, while Gabby Bryant and Kristen Wilcox added one hit apiece. That was all Staples would allow Hermon to get in her complete-game effort, striking out seven in the shutout. She and her defense did not allow a Hermon runner past second in the contest.
“They did amazing today,” Staples said. “They really backed me up and I couldn’t ask for a better team.”
Staples also noted her team’s ability to put the tough ending to the first game behind it and come back in the second game.
“We were all a little down, but we just shook it off and came back,” she said.
The first game came down to the last inning as well, but this time it was Hermon getting the best of Caribou in the last inning. Burgess kept the Vikings’ bats silenced again, while Staples did the same to the Hawks.
Staples ran into trouble in the seventh, however, as Hermon produced lengthy at-bats to eventually load the bases. Katie Kivler stepped up next for the Hawks and drew a walk that brought in the winning run from third.
Burgess struck out 11 en route to the complete-game shutout for Hermon, while only allowing two hits.
On the other side, Hermon collected just three hits. Sammy Schultz had two hits while Haskell added the other.
With the split, Hermon now stands at 8-1 and Caribou is 7-2.
Deprey expected a tough task against such a potent team as Hermon.
“You come down hoping to split,” he said, noting the challenges of scouting and developing game plans with the distance between Caribou and other teams.
“You know they’re well coached, they’re going to have some power, and they always have a stud pitcher that’s going to come out and throw strikes.” he added.
Deprey was happy to get the win but wasn’t ready to soak it up quite yet.
“Presque Isle on Tuesday. One game at a time, right?” he quipped.
For Hermon, coach Stephanie Biberstein chalked it up to simply a bad day offensively for the Hawks.
“The kids just needed to make some adjustments and we didn’t do that today,” she said, adding that the increased velocity from Staples caused problems for the team in both contests.
Biberstein thinks the Hawks will get right back on track after much needed practice time.
“We have to get back out on the field and start hitting live to work on the offensive part of the spectrum,” she said. “I’m fully confident, the kids will come back and work at it.”