HAMPDEN, Maine — The bottom of the order was productive for the Hampden Academy Bronco softball team during the regular season and that continued in its Eastern Maine Class A prelim against Mt. Blue High School of Farmington on Tuesday.
Sophomore first baseman Courtney Dunton and sophomore pitcher Mikala Leland, the Nos. 8-9 hitters in the lineup, each had run-producing singles in the four-run third-inning rally that snapped a 1-1 tie and sent the Broncos on their way to a 10-6 triumph.
The eighth-seeded Broncos, now 8-9, will travel to take on top seed Cony of Augusta, 13-3, in the quarterfinals at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Hampden has won four of its last six.
Mt. Blue, the ninth seed, finished up at 7-10 after having its two-game winning streak snapped.
One-out walks to Rilee Walker, Cassie Bean and Kierra Speed and a wild pitch produced the first run of the third inning before Dunton lined an RBI single to right and Leland ripped a two-run single to right center.
“The bottom of the order has been doing this for us all year,” said Hampden Academy coach Rod Wells. “Courtney has been a big key for us.
“We got some timely hits early in the game which gave us the lead and that gave [Leland] some confidence on the mound,” added Wells. “If you want to move on in the playoffs, you’ve got to swing the bats.”
Hampden Academy built the lead to 10-1 with two more runs in the fourth and three in the fifth.
In the fourth, Paige Yost was hit by a pitch, stole second and scored on Bean’s sharp single to right center. Speed delivered Bean with a triple into the gap in right center.
In the fifth, Kayla Gagner and Abby Lord had run-scoring singles and Elise Arsenault knocked in the final run with a groundout.
But the Cougars didn’t quit and made a valiant comeback bid.
They scored four times in the sixth on two walks, singles by Addie Brinkman, Lauren Guppy (RBI) and Kayleigh Fontaine (2 RBIs) and an RBI groundout by Rachelle Bator.
The Cougars strung together a two-out rally in the seventh as an error, a walk and Brinkman’s RBI single closed the gap and chased winning pitcher Leland in favor of Julia Sicard, who came on to induce a game-ending groundout.
“It was a great game,” said Mt. Blue coach Chuck Wallace. “We could have laid down when Hampden got ahead but our girls fought all the way to the end.”
“Our kids did a great job and their kids did a great job not giving up,” said Wells.
Righthander Leland allowed five hits and six runs over 6⅔ innings with 12 strikeouts and four walks. Two of the runs were unearned. She allowed just one hit over the first five innings.
“She was pretty good. She kept the ball outside and that really killed us,” said Mt. Blue sophomore shortstop Guppy.
“My fastball was on and I was able to hit my spots with it,” said Leland. “I worked the outside corner a lot. My changeup wasn’t on but I was able to get a few people out with it.”
Mt. Blue took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Kiana Thompson was hit by a pitch, stole second and third and scored on a throwing error.
Hampden tied it in the bottom of the first when Gagner walked, was sacrificed to second by Lord, went to third on an error and scored on Yost’s base hit.
Lord and Dunton had two singles and an RBI apiece for the winners. Speed’s triple was the game’s only extra-base hit.
Brinkman and Guppy had two singles and an RBI each for Mt. Blue and Fontaine had her two-run single.