BREWER, Maine — The Brewer Witches took advantage of the limited hits they were able to get to post a 3-0 softball victory over Oxford Hills of South Paris on Friday afternoon at Coffin Field.
Alexa Grindle doubled with one out in the first and Morgan Small doubled home courtesy runner Sydney Birch to give the Witches, now 12-0 and still No. 1 in the Eastern Maine Class A Heal points, the only run they would need against the Vikings (10-3).
The wind was a factor on both doubles. Grindle’s shot appeared it would go over center fielder Shannon Fillebrown’s head, but a strong wind held it up. Fillebrown had to turn suddenly as the ball came down and it fell in front of her.
Small’s confidence at the plate was lifted even more after seeing Grindle’s double.
“It makes it easier when somebody makes a [hit] like that,” said Small, a senior first baseman.
Small’s double was wind-blown even more than Grindle’s. The high fly ball started out over right-center field before finally falling to the turf in shallow right field with three Vikings chasing it.
“It’s hard to practice playing in the wind,” said Oxford Hills coach Cynthia Goddard. “I could tell it was going to be a struggle. Brewer did well when they kept running.”
It looked like it might be the only run either team would get, but Small thought they could get more.
“Everybody showed in warmups they were focused. Everybody was confident,” she said.
“I felt Alexa [the starting pitcher] had confidence in us on defense,” Small added. “That helps us offensively.”
Brewer tried to squeeze out a run in the third after Maddy Bailey led off with a double and continued to third when the ball was fumbled.
Lindsay Houp hit a ground ball to third, and Fillebrown checked Bailey before throwing to first. Brewer coach Skip Estes sent Bailey, one of his speed people, on the throw. Houp was safe at first, but Vikings first baseman Anna Winslow fired home in time to get Bailey.
“That was my fault,” said Estes, who was the third base coach. “My gut was telling me it would be 1-0 down to the end. I thought runs would be at a premium.”
The Witches bailed out Estes when they added a pair of insurance runs in the fourth.
Emily Gilmore singled, then raced toward second on a grounder to third by Cassie Harvey. Gilmore continued to third when the attempt to force her at second sailed wide into right field. Harvey took second on the error.
One out later, Gilmore scored on a fielder’s choice by Chelsea King with Harvey taking third.
“I was just trying to make contact,” said King.
“It did give us more room and boosted our confidence,” she added.
Harvey scored on Delaney Davis’ RBI single over the third baseman’s head.
“It felt really good to get the RBI,” Davis said, “but it was more about hitting the ball and doing something for the team.”
The Vikings’ best scoring chance came in the second inning.
Taylor Johnson opened with a single, but Brewer shortstop Houp forced her at second on Abby Bernier’s fielder’s choice. Harvey erased Bernier at second on Jordyn Sanborn’s fielder’s choice.
Fillebrown’s single and Haleigh Robinson’s walk loaded the bases for the Vikings with two out, but left fielder Haley Bickford gloved Brianna Starbird’s fly ball to end the inning.
Oxford Hills was never able to get another runner past second.
“We couldn’t get a big hit,” said Goddard.
Even the attempts to get small ones went awry.
“We didn’t execute on our bunts,” said Goddard. “I was disappointed with our execution in the batter’s box.”
Grindle finished with two doubles to lead the Brewer offense, giving the Witches four extra-base hits among their seven. Grindle struck out eight, walked two and allowed only six singles.
Fillebrown had two of the singles, and Oxford Hills pitcher Crystal West struck out one and didn’t walk any.
“It was a pitching duel,” said Estes. “[West] is one of the better pitchers we’ve faced all year.”
Estes said he was glad he has two quality pitchers, the other being King. Brewer defeated four teams with winning records in five days this week with Grindle pitching Monday and Friday and King pitching Tuesday and Wednesday.
“If Alexa had to pitch every day, this game would have been a different story,” he said.