HERMON, Maine — The Old Town High School and Hermon High softball teams showed why they are two of the contenders for the Eastern Maine Class B championship on Friday afternoon.
The two rivals battled through seven scoreless innings behind two top-notch pitching performances and some impressive defensive plays before Old Town pushed across four unearned runs in the eighth without the benefit of a hit to triumph 4-0.
Old Town improved to 5-0 while Hermon fell to 4-1.
Each team went 16-2 a year ago and reached the regional semifinals.
Old Town junior righthander Rachel Martin and Hermon sophomore lefty Karli Theberge locked up in a masterful duel.
Martin tossed a six-hitter with nine strikeouts and three walks. She threw 132 pitches of which 80 were strikes.
The economical Theberge threw just 76 pitches, including 47 strikes. She allowed three hits with one walk and three strikeouts.
“I thought I threw pretty well,” said Martin, who is now 4-0. “I tried to mix it up and hit my spots. We have a real good fielding team. I feel very comfortable with them around me.”
“She pitched a great game. She had a fastball, changeup, screwball and drop,” Theberge said.
“She was awesome,” said Hermon catcher Shania Haskell. “Her changeup messed us up. It was nasty.”
Martin was impressed with Theberge, who featured a fastball, changeup, drop, drop curve and a screwball.
“For a sophomore, she is very good. She had good speed,” said Martin. “She’s a lefty and we don’t face many lefties.”
Theberge was pleased with her outing.
“I thought I threw pretty well through the first seven innings but kind of lost it in the eighth,” said Theberge.
Lauren Martin, Rachel’s twin sister, opened the eighth by drawing the only walk off Theberge.
It was her team-high fifth walk of the season.
“She really knows how to work a pitcher. She does a great job,” said Old Town coach Jenn Plourde.
Michaela Milton laid down a sacrifice bunt that was bobbled for an error.
Brittany Cousins sacrificed the runners to second and third and Karah Hussey reached on a fielder’s choice when her bunt was thrown late to third to try to nail Lauren Martin.
Rachel Martin then ripped a sharp grounder through the third baseman’s legs to score two runners and an ensuing throwing error plated another run before Meaghan Leighton hit a sacrifice fly.
“I was just trying to make contact,” said Rachel Martin. “I wasn’t trying to crush the ball. The pitch I hit was on the inside part of the plate.”
“Lead-off walks always get you but Karli pitched a good game. They executed bunts when they needed to and we struggled with that,” said Hermon coach Megan McCrum.
Hermon had runners on in every inning except the fifth but went 1-for-19 with runners on base as Martin made clutch pitches when she had to and her defense made some nice plays behind her.
Old Town first baseman Kayla Hayward turned a screeching line drive off the bat of Allessa Oakes into a double play in the third inning and shortstop Mikayla Richards gloved a sharp grounder off the bat of Haskell in the fourth.
Hermon loaded the bases in the sixth but Martin induced a grounder in front of the plate and catcher Milton alertly grabbed the ball and stepped on the plate to end the rally.
Hermon’s Sydney Addessi was the game’s lone repeat hitter with a double and a single.