AUGUSTA, Maine — Skowhegan pitcher Becca McCarty started slow and finished strong in Wednesday night’s Eastern Maine Class A championship game, a 2-1 victory over Cony of Augusta.
Skowhegan 18-1, will take on Scarborough, also 18-1, in Saturday’s noon state title game in Augusta.
Fortunately for her, so did her offense.
After giving up one run on three hits in the first inning, McCarty held the Rams scoreless and scattered four hits the rest of the way.
Breanna Ames’ seventh-inning homer broke a 1-1 tie.
“Sometimes it just takes me awhile to warm up,” McCarty said with a chuckle. “My curveball was off-speed and hitting the spots. He called a low strike today and that’s where I live.”
McCarty struck out just six batters, but walked none.
“Becca definitely got stronger as the game went on,” said Indians coach Lee Johnson. “She had a good off-speed stuff and got ahead in the count a lot and she changed things up quite a bit on them.”
Meanwhile, the Indians’ offense was also heating up as Skowhegan tied the game in the sixth. The Indians had been held to just one hit up until that point.
Megan Hancock led off with an infield single to the shortstop hole, stole second, and moved to third on a throwing error on the steal attempt. Whitney Jones then drove her home by whacking an 0-1 fastball to center for a sacrifice fly.
The Indians’ bats continued to wake up in the seventh as No. 6 hitter Ames jumped on the first pitch from Mika Wilson and lined it over the fence in left center for a 205-foot solo homer with one out.
“I just went up thinking I had nothing to lose and to do what I can,” Ames said. “I was kind of patient up there the first two times, but I realized sometimes the first pitch is the best one. That one I saw looked like my pitch.”
It was her first home run of the season.
“I didn’t even know it was gone until I got to second,” Ames said.
If not for a move that Johnson didn’t make, her pitch might have been thrown to someone else.
“To be honest with you, we were looking to get a kid an at-bat and we’d looked at her, but decided we’d hit for someone else and I’m glad we did,” he said with a laugh.
After pitching a 1-2-3 sixth, McCarty retired the first two of the seventh on a strikeout and grounder back to her, but Chelsea Soule legged out an infield single to second and stole second to make things interesting before McCarty ended the game with a strikeout on a 3-2 pitch to Suzannah Deeves.
“I think it was just adrenaline,” McCarty said of her power surge in the late innings. “I was getting into it more and more.”
The Rams of Augusta, also 18-1, scored their run in the first on three straight one-out singles, the last of which was an RBI hit to center by Maegan Cloutier, but the Rams stranded two runners, one of whom was caught off third base during a bunt.
“We made a big mistake in the first,” said Cony coach Rocky Gaslin. “We laid the bunt down and got caught in between on whether to go or not.”
Soule was the lone repeat hitter in the game with two singles.
Wilson (10-1) took the tough-luck loss despite pitching a three-hitter with five strikeouts and no walks.
“She’s a left-handed pitcher who throws the drop ball on the outside and keeps you guessing a bit, but we made some adjustments,” Johnson said. “Bottom line is these kids are just gutsy and they keep grinding it out and do what they need to do to win the game.”
Gaslin was effusive in his praise of McCarty.
“I think she found a good groove. She settled down nicely for them. We made contact against her all game, but she didn’t get rattled,” Gaslin said.