OAKLAND, Maine — Brewer pitcher Alexa Grindle scattered five hits and clouted a two-run homer as the Witches shut out Messalonskee 9-0 in a battle of unbeaten Class A softball teams Friday afternoon.
The Witches, who were tied for first place with Messalonskee in the Eastern Maine Class A Heal points standings, scored three times in the top of the first to get a leg up on the Eagles.
“The game started off great,” said Grindle. “It makes me much more confident [as a pitcher] if we get a good start in the right direction.”
Brewer coach Skip Estes appreciates what Grindle gives the team.
“She’s very seasoned. She got key strikeouts when we needed them,” he said of his senior ace. “It makes my job a lot easier.”
Grindle credited the strong defensive play of her teammates for making her job easier.
“I have such a good defense behind me,” she said.
That was a key mentally for Grindle when the Eagles had runners in scoring position.
“I have so much confidence in them, it’s hard to get rattled,” Grindle said.
Senior third baseman Cassie Harvey was a big help there in the early innings, throwing out three base runners at first as she aggressively played some hard shots off the Messalonskee bats.
“I definitely knew I had [senior shortstop] Lindsay [Houp] behind me if I messed up,” said Harvey.
Houp also made her presence felt as she threw out four Eagle runners and cooly closed her glove on a line drive in the fifth.
In all, Grindle induced 14 groundouts plus four strikeouts among the Eagles’ 21 outs.
“We hit the ball, but we hit it right at ’em,” said Messalonskee coach Leo Bouchard, who also pointed out they couldn’t hit any balls into the outfield gaps.
“The only luck we had was bad luck,” Bouchard said.
The free-swinging Witches, on the other hand, pounded out 12 hits, including four extra-base shots.
“They’ve got the best-hitting team since Leavitt [of Turner Center] in the early 2000s,” Bouchard said.
The Witches are gaining confidence, too, with each win.
“We had two great practices the last two days,” said Estes. “They’re very loose and very confident.”
“For us,” said Harvey, “it’s more about not being nervous, just go in and pound the ball.”
That they did.
Grindle’s homer, her first of the season, carried over the left field fence as Messalonskee’s Kyle Knight looked like she might catch up to it until she ran out of real estate.
“It felt good, but I didn’t think it was going out,” said Grindle.
Sophomore catcher Sam Pellegrino posted two singles for Brewer (7-0), including a two-run rip that capped the scoring in the three-run first inning.
Harvey added a double, a single and an RBI, and Morgan Small also collected two singles. Pinch hitter Sydney Birch, a junior, ripped a triple and scored the final run in the seventh, and freshman right fielder Emily Gilmore also had a double with an RBI.
The Eagles (6-1) were able to get a runner to third in three different innings, but either the Witches’ defense or strikeouts from Grindle left them stranded. Grindle finished with four strikeouts and no walks.
All five Messalonskee hits were a single apiece by Bri Garland, Kylee Knight, Emily York, Nikki Collier and Natalie Hunt. Garland and Knight had theirs back-to-back in the first, but the other three were the lone hits in their innings.
Messalonskee starting pitcher Kassi Michaud struck out four, walked four and gave up all 12 hits in 6 1/3 innings, before being relieved by Jordan Roy. Roy had a walk and a strikeout as she finished the seventh.
“It feels good [to beat them],” said Harvey, “especially to do it here. Now they’ll be coming for us, but it’s better to do it at our place.”