OLD TOWN, Maine — Two big scoring bursts in the middle innings gave the Old Town High School softball team enough of a cushion to withstand a Hermon rally in the seventh and post a 12-9 victory Tuesday.
The game was a key early season Class B matchup of two potential Eastern Maine title contenders.
“We know Hermon is going to be a top team,” said Jenn Plourde, coach of the defending state champion Coyotes. “I told [the team] to take this as a playoff game and the girls did.”
The Coyotes were trailing the Hawks 3-1 when they erupted for five runs in the bottom of the third, capped by Brittany Cousins’ bases-loaded single. Two runners scored on the hit and the third came in when the ball was bobbled in center field.
Meaghan Leighton started the inning by reaching first on an infield error and moved to second on a walk to Susie Outman. Hermon switched pitchers in the middle of Outman’s at-bat as Alessa Oakes came in from left field in relief of starter Karlie Theberge.
A fielder’s choice advanced the runners to third and second, respectively, and Gifford worked a walk to load the bases. Lauren Martin singled in Leighton and Sam Milton worked an 11-pitch walk to force in Outman, setting the table for Cousins.
That gave the Coyotes the lead for good, but it turned out they needed all they could get.
Old Town (2-0) added six more in the fifth inning.
Rachel Martin started the scoring with a sacrifice fly on a liner to center, and Old Town pitcher Kendra Hayward helped herself by knocking in a run with a fielder’s choice. Michaela Milton and Outman followed with RBI doubles, and Gifford finished it with an RBI single.
“We had been struggling with our hitting,” said Plourde. “Yesterday [Monday], we worked on it hard. That set our confidence for the game.”
The Hawks (1-1) scored five in the seventh to close the gap, including a two-out bases-clearing double by freshman Syd Addessi, the designated player.
“Seeing it fly, it felt really good,” she said of the drive into the gap in left-center field.
“I was just thinking basehit, getting on, not letting the team down,” Addessi added. “I knew the rest of the team could back me up.”
The next two batters, Kylie Kennedy and Theberge, made it three doubles in a row and picked up an RBI each. Kennedy’s blow sailed over the head of Coyotes left fielder Lauren Martin, and Theberge followed with a drive into left-center field as well.
“Everybody says hitting is contagious,” said Hermon coach Stephanie Biberstein.
But a backhanded snag by third baseman Outman of a Wilcox foul liner ended the rally and the game.
“I said, ‘You guys always gotta make it difficult. You can’t make it easy,’” said Plourde, smiling.
“This refocuses us,” said Biberstein. “We walk away knowing we have to bear down better in practice.”
Lauren Martin had three singles for Old Town, Leighton had a double and a single and Kelsey Gifford hit two singles. Hayward earned the win with six strikeouts and no walks.
Theberge led the Hawks with a triple, double and single, Shannon Graves had a solo homer in the fifth and a single and Kennedy had a double and two singles.
Theberge and Alessa Oakes combined for four strikeouts and seven walks.
Graves’ homer brought more excitement than just a ball clearing the center field fence.
Cousins, the center fielder, raced back to try to catch the high fly ball and smacked her right shoulder into the fence as she twisted in a last-ditch effort to make the grab. She lay on the field writhing for a couple of minutes before getting up.
The umpires let her test her throwing arm before resuming the game with Cousins staying in center.
“I think she just got the wind knocked out of her,” said Plourde. “Young kids aren’t familiar with what that feels like, and they get scared. She’ll have a bruise tomorrow, but she’ll be all right.”