ELLSWORTH, Maine — The undefeated Old Town Coyotes pounded out 16 hits, scored 13 runs and got a fairly strong outing from ace pitcher Kendra Hayward, but Ellsworth coach Rick Roberts pointed in a different direction to credit for the Coyotes’ 13-0 softball victory over his Eagles in six innings Thursday at the Ellsworth High field.
“We knew what they had coming in,” said Robert. “They have a lot of speed.
“If you let them get on the basepaths, it’s going to be a long day.”
It was a long day for the Eagles, as the Coyotes put up nine stolen bases. That included three in the first inning to help secure their first run and three in the sixth to aid an eight-run sixth that put the game away.
Robert was happy Old Town didn’t try to steal more.
“If I had that kind of speed, I’d be stealing home all the time,” he said with a smile.
It’s not that the Eagles don’t have speed, they just lack experience.
“We have a mix of seniors and youngsters, including a couple of freshmen,” said Robert. “We’ve got a little speed, we just have to learn how to use it.”
Both Robert and Old Town coach Jenn Plourde agreed that Hayward had a strong game.
Hayward had to overcome a rough start, though, as she twice had balls called on her in the first inning because she hadn’t looked at her catcher before bringing her hands together when she was on the rubber.
Hayward eventually struck out the leadoff batter, Abby Lynch, but the second, Heather Holt, ended up singling off Hayward with a liner over the second-base bag.
Lynch advanced to second when the next batter, Emily Berry, also singled, but Hayward stranded them by striking out the next two batters.
After that, she was seldom challenged.
“She can easily get back in the game,” said Plourde. “The second time, she came right around, and I knew after that she would be OK.”
“The girls couldn’t lay off her rise balls,” said Robert. “Last year, we didn’t swing at them” and it was a tight game.
Meg Leighton and Brittany Cousins combined for seven hits and five RBIs to power the Old Town offense.
Leighton slammed two doubles and a single and collected three RBIs, and Cousins posted four singles, a sacrifice fly and two RBIs.
They backed the four-hit pitching of Hayward, who also rang up nine strikeouts and walked only one.
Cristin Wright’s leadoff double in the fourth was the only extra-base blow for the Eagles (3-3). After an Ellsworth strikeout and a pop out to first, Hayward gave up her only walk to put two runners on for the second and last time. She struck out Bridget Jordan on three pitches to shut off the Eagles.
The other hit was a single by Abby Lynch in the fifth. No Ellsworth runners progressed farther than second base in the game.
“We’re a better-hitting team than this,” said Robert.
And with Old Town scoring only five runs through the first five innings, a key hit might have made a difference, said Robert.
“In the first five innings, a hit here or there and we night have been able to compete.
Then came the sixth.
After the Coyotes’ leadoff hitter lined out back to the pitcher, the next 12 Old Town batters reached base in a variety of ways, including seven hits, two fielder’s choices, two hit batsmen and a walk.
A two-run double by Leighton that zipped past Ellsworth shortstop Hailee Langley and rolled all the way to the fence in left-center field and a two-run single by Rachel Martin — the second of her two singles in the inning — highlighted the scoring.
Other repeat hitters for the Coyotes were Kayla Madden and Lauren Martin with two singles each.
“It was nice to see everyone hit,” said Plourde. “Some teams only have a couple of hitters, and our whole team can hit.”
Megan Hunt pitched the first 5 2/3 innings for Ellsworth, striking out none and walking none but giving up 14 hits. Mariah Brown finished the sixth with a strikeout, a walk, two hits batsmen and two hits.
With much of that coming in the final inning, the Eagles were still hanging in. Plourde was not surprised.
“They always want to beat us,” said Plourde. “They’re our rivals in every sport.”