BREWER — Junior righthander Kayla Dube scattered four hits and her Penobscot Valley High School teammates scored a pair of unearned runs in the first inning as the Howlers captured their first Eastern Maine softball championship since 1981 by virtue of a 3-0 win over defending state champ Deer Isle-Stonington at Coffin Field on Thursday night.
The 18-1 Howlers, the third seed, will take on 16-1 Richmond, the Western Maine titlist, in Saturday’s 11 a.m. state championship game at Coffin Field.
Fifth seed Deer Isle-Stonington concluded an 18-1 season.
Dube struck out 10 and didn’t walk anyone while throwing 90 pitches, 72 for strikes.
“My curve was on today,” said Dube. “And they were swinging at my rise ball. They swung at a lot of high pitches and that was a huge advantage for me. They couldn’t lay off my rise ball.”
“We had done a lot of talking about laying off the high pitch,” said Deer Isle-Stonington coach Terry Siebert. “They were patient the first couple of innings but as they got distressed, they chased the high pitch because they really wanted to hit the ball so bad.”
Dube also said she threw a lot of pitches on the outside corner “because they didn’t want to swing at it and it was being called a strike.”
“We wouldn’t be here without Kayla,” said PVHS sophomore third baseman Shaelyn Jones, who had two singles and scored twice. “She’s the best pitcher around. I’m so proud of her.”
“She has over 200 strikeouts in 19 games and only gave up 21 runs. This was her 10th shutout,” said PVHS coach Tom Coyle.
The Howlers also played errorless ball behind her.
“We’ve made only 19 errors this year,” pointed out Coyle.
DI-S senior righty Sydney Ouzts was also outstanding.
She allowed only three hits with nine strikeouts and no walks. All three runs off her were unearned.
She threw 52 strikes among her 72 pitches and she ended her career with 35 wins in her last 38 decisions.
The Howlers capitalized on three errors in the first inning to give Dube all the run support she would need.
Kirstin Batchelder opened the inning with a slow roller to third and an errant throw allowed her to reach base.
Shaelyn Jones blooped a single into right to put runners on first and second.
Reese Leonard then grounded a ball to second.
Jones may have screened the second baseman as the ball glanced off the second baseman’s foot toward the second base bag.
Batchelder eventually broke for the plate and the throw to the plate sailed high, allowing both Batchelder and Jones to score.
“That was our thing. I told the girls if we scored first, we’d win,” said Coyle.
“That swinging bunt [by Batchelder] and the errors in the first inning and that was pretty much it,” said Siebert. “We couldn’t get a real good bat on the ball. [Dube’s] a good pitcher, no doubt about it. But we should have been able to hit her better than we did.”
“It was very important to get those runs because they got us pumped up and knocked them down,” said Dube.
The Mariners had an opportunity to cut the lead in half in the fourth when Janelle Ciomei ripped a single off the left fielder’s glove, stole second and went to third on a groundout. But Dube struck out the next hitter and got the final out with a grounder back to her.
Moriah Nutter and Julie Hutchins led off the fifth with singles but Dube struck out the next three hitters.
Dube said when she got in a jam, she “took a deep breath, took my time, calmed down and believed in myself.”
Jones produced an insurance run in the sixth when she grounded a single to right, stole second and then scored on an overthrow during her steal of third.
“When I saw Mr. Coyle beckoning me to come to third, I didn’t want to go. But I knew I could trust him and, look, it got us a 3-0 lead,” Jones said.
Nutter doubled with one out in the seventh but Dube retired the last two hitters to end it.
Jones was the Howlers’ only repeat hitter. Batchelder had the other hit, a third-inning single.
Nutter had a single to go with her double for the Mariners.
Nutter said Dube was “pretty good.
“She threw harder than we thought,” she said.