OLD TOWN, Maine — Old Town senior righthander Kendra Hayward fired a one-hitter, striking out 13 and not walking anybody, and junior first baseman Meaghan Leighton drove in three runs to lead the second-seeded Coyotes to a 4-0 win over seventh seed Winslow in their Eastern Maine Class B quarterfinal Thursday.
Defending state B champ Old Town is now 16-1 and will entertain 16-1 Oceanside of Rockland/Thomaston, the third seed, in Saturday’s semifinals. Oceanside nipped Washington Academy of East Machias 1-0 in their quarterfinal.
Winslow concluded an 11-7 season.
The only runner to reach base against Hayward was Liz Pullen, who blooped a single just inside the left-field line to lead off the third inning. She stole second, moved to third on Hayley Pottle’s sacrifice but was stranded when Old Town right fielder Sami Milton made a nice running catch on Brooke Haskell’s fly ball that was slicing toward the foul line.
Hayward retired the final 14 hitters she faced. She threw 93 pitches of which 59 were strikes.
“I just tried to throw hard. I knew I had to work around their batters. They have some amazing batters. So I had to spin the ball and move it around them. That was the game plan,” said Hayward.
“I threw some rise balls and curveballs and I also tried to mix in some changeups,” added Hayward. “They’re an aggressive hitting team so I tried to take advantage of that.”
“She was very good,” said Winslow senior first baseman Jen Poulin. “She’s very skilled up high. We tried to stay off [the high pitches] but…..[we couldn’t].”
“She was very good with the high balls and we’re not very good at hitting them. She was smart about the way she pitched,” said senior shortstop Ali LeClair.
Winslow coach Steve Bodge said he scouted Hayward “but, unfortunately, she didn’t have the velocity that day that she had today. I’m not sure we were ready for it. She pitched a great game.”
The Coyotes played errorless ball in support of Hayward and catcher Kelsey Hesseltine made a terrific diving catch on Jen Poulin’s low, looping pop-up behind the plate in the second inning.
“That was an amazing catch,” said Hayward. “Everybody showed up today and played hard.”
Old Town pushed across three runs in the third inning and another in the fifth.
Milton triggered the third-inning rally with a one-out bunt single and she moved to second on a wild pitch.
Rachel Martin also laid down a bunt single and the Coyotes loaded the bases when Brittany Cousins reached on a fielder’s choice bunt as no throw was made in order to keep Milton anchored at third.
Hayward walked on a low 3-2 pitch to force in the first run before Leighton lined a soft single into right center to drive in Martin and Cousins.
“I was looking for a gap and I saw one in center field,” said Leighton. “I think [Winslow pitcher Megan Richards] threw me a drop ball that was over the middle of the plate and I tried to push my hands through it the best I could. I knew we had crucial runs on the bases. That’s what we needed.”
Sophomore shortstop Martin said they work a lot on bunting and have been bunting “pretty well this season.”
It paid off.
“We play a lot of small ball but we can also hit when we need to,” Martin added.
“We have great speed so we’re going to use it when we need to,” said Old Town coach Jenn Plourde.
Old Town’s fifth-inning insurance run came about when Martin grounded a sharp single to left, continued to third on an outfield error and eventually scored on Leighton’s one-out grounder to third.
Martin went 3-for-3 with a double to go with her two singles. In addition to Milton and Leighton, Tori Currier and Hesseltine also had singles.
Senior Richards pitched well in defeat, allowing the four runs on seven hits over five innings. She walked two and struck out two.
Sophomore Hannah Doble pitched a scoreless sixth with two strikeouts and two walks.
Winslow committed just one error in the well-played game.