THOMASTON — The strategy the Old Town softball team carried into Saturday’s Eastern Maine Class B softball semifinal against top-seeded Oceanside was a simple one — swing often and swing hard.
It took a while, but the plan eventually worked as the fifth-seeded Coyotes knocked off the Mariners 5-2.
“We knew she [Oceanside pitcher Rachel Frye] had a good fastball and we just wanted to be on top of it of the entire game and we were,” said Old Town coach Jennie Plourde. “We just kept digging and digging.”
Old Town (15-4) will play No. 6 Nokomis of Newport in the EM final on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. at Coffin Field in Brewer after the Warriors routed No. 2 Hermon 14-1 Saturday.
The Mariners (16-2) scored early Saturday, taking a 2-0 lead in the third inning, but the Coyotes scored more often by sticking to their aggressive play at the plate.
“We got rattled a little when they scored,” said Plourde, “but we brought [the players] in and said, ‘It’s not over. It’s not over by any means.’”
Old Town’s first three runs came in the top of the fifth after two were out.
Rachel Martin worked Frye for a walk, Kendra Hayward singled to put runners on first and second, Ashley Abbott singled in Martin, and Karah Hussey (who was the designated runner for pitcher Hayward) and Abbott moved up when the throw went home.
A single to right field by Susie Outman plated Hussey, and Abbott scored on an errant throw back into the infield.
Old Town (15-4) added two insurance runs in the top of the seventh as Hayward singled to open the inning, and she moved to third when right fielder Molly Mellor couldn’t squeeze the hard line drive by Abbott.
“Coach said, ‘Stay relaxed up there, and if you see a meatball up there, try to crank it out of the park,’” said Abbott. “[She] stayed with me after practice yesterday and we did a lot of hitting one on one and it helped a lot today.”
Outman scored Hussey with a fielder’s choice to short, sending Abbott to third, and Abbott scored on Ashley England’s line single to right-center.
“Rachel had a little trouble with her changeup, getting that over,” said Oceanside coach Russell Worcester, “and she had to rely on her fastball to try to get up [on the hitters], and they were putting the bat on the ball and finding the holes.”
The Mariners opened the scoring when Hannah Hersom reached on a bunt single with one out and stole second on the next pitch. Jill Bradbury singled home Hersom and took second on the throw to the plate. She scored after Kennadi Grover’s liner to center was caught but the throw to third to hold Bradbury at second went into the crowd, a two-base error that scored Bradbury.
Hayward shut down Oceanside after allowing the two runs, facing 15 batters over the last 4⅓ innings. She struck out nine, walked none and allowed only four hits.
“I just decided I needed to fire harder after they scored the two runs,” said Hayward, a junior captain. “You can’t put yourself down. I just had to push harder and the whole team was behind me.”
Hayward also posted three singles, and Brittany Cousins added two singles.
Oceanside’s Frye struck out two, walked two and hit one batter but gave up 10 hits. The Mariners also committed five errors.
Kennadi Grover and Natalie Russell each hit a double for Oceanside.
Plourde saw this game as a breakout for her team.
“You get to that point where you go all season and you say, OK, there’s going to be a game when all of them perform … and this was hands down the game they performed,” she said.