HOWLAND, Maine — After a slow start, Penobscot Valley ace Kayla Dube struck out 13 of the final 17 Bangor Christian batters as the Howlers posted a 16-1 softball victory over the Patriots on Friday afternoon.
“I was nervous for some reason,” said Dube, a senior who led the Howlers to the Class D state softball title last year. “I don’t know what I was doing wrong.”
The Patriots loaded the bases as Dube, who had not given up a hit or run in the first three games this season, put the first three on base with two walks sandwiching a hit batsman.
“I had to step back and take a deep breath,” she said.
Dube proceeded to strike out the side, ending the biggest threat Bangor Christian mounted.
“Ever since she was a freshman, the first inning has been her worst,” said PVHS coach Thom Coyle. “She still gets nervous even when she’s in complete control.”
Bangor Christian coach Tom Obey expected that Dube would snap out of it.
“She’s a great pitcher. All teams are going to struggle against her,” he said.
He thought it might have put a little pressure on the Howlers, who defeated BC 11-0 in the teams’ season opener, if the Patriots could have scored two or three runs then, but he knew his team would face an uphill battle either way it went.
“They have good hitting and we don’t have good pitching,” said Obey. None of his pitchers are hard throwers.
In their half of the first, the Howlers’ hitters took charge. They put up eight runs and cruised to their fourth win of the season and 18th in a row overall. The game was called after 4 1/2 innings due to the 12-run rule.
Meghan Howey opened the bottom of the first with a single but was thrown out trying to steal second.
Shaelyn Jones then singled, took second on a wild pitch and scored on Jenna Hope’s single. Dube, Brittany Morgan and Howey added RBI singles, Morgan Moon got an RBI on a fielder’s choice and Jones capped the first-inning scoring with a two-run single. BC also made two errors in the inning.
PVHS added three runs in the second and five in the third.
Molly McGinn registered a pair of doubles and an RBI for the Howlers, Dube added a double, a single and two RBIs, and sisters Brittany and Morgan Moon rapped two singles apiece. Morgan Moon had three RBIs and Brittany one.
After the first inning, Dube didn’t walk or hit anyone, although she did give up three hits.
“I was more relaxed [after the eight-run first], but it wasn’t one of my best games,” she said.
“But my hitting came around,” added Dube, whose double in the second might have come close to clearing the 10-foot-high fence if the wind hadn’t held it up. “I was in a slump last year. I have a high on-base percentage, but it’s because I get a lot of walks. It felt good to get a good hit.”
Gabby Melcher led the Patriots (1-3) with an RBI double in the third, scoring Nicole Smith from first.
Smith’s single was the first hit off Dube this year, and Smith’s run is the only one given up by the Howlers.
Sydney Martin’s singled in the fourth for BC’s final hit.
Olivia Arnold took the loss for the Patriots. She didn’t strike out any and walked three.
“I tried to prepare them for this,” said Coyle. “I told them it [other teams getting hits and runs] was going to happen eventually.”
Coyle warned his team not to treat any game lightly, that Dube wasn’t just going to set down everyone at the plate and that the Howlers’ hitting and defense might be tested, too.
“They can’t win without her, and she can’t win without them,” Coyle said. “They have to play it like there’s no tomorrow.”