CORINTH, Maine — The Central softball team was fired up Wednesday afternoon, and for good reason.
For one, archrival Foxcroft Academy was in town, and the Red Devils were not only defending their home field, but their position atop the Class C Heal point standings.
A couple of minutes prior to the first pitch, coach Durice Washburn fired her players up even more, telling them to “earn that top spot,” and they responded with a 6-2 victory over the Ponies on a blustery afternoon at the high school field.
“We get up for big games, but if it’s not like the big game on our schedule we tend to not go after it 100 percent like we should,” said Washburn, whose club improves to 9-1, with the only loss being to undefeated Class B contender Hermon.
“That’s one thing that we’ve been working on, making sure its 100 percent all the time.”
Foxcroft falls to 5-3.
Junior righthander Alix Rudzinski allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits while striking out eight. All the Ponies’ damage came in the top of the fourth inning.
Rudzinski stuck with only one pitch, her fastball, mainly because she was confident in her defense, which only committed one error.
“I feel confident in my team that they were going to be able to get whatever Dover was going to hit them tonight. So [I throw] fastballs, get the contact and just get the outs in the field,” said Rudzinski, who improved her record to 6-1.
Central gave Rudzinski a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third, thanks to a hit batter, a wild pitch, a stolen base, an error and an RBI single to center by Brianna Speed.
Foxcroft responded with its two runs in the top of the fourth. Vanessa Lougee drove in one with a single to center and Kelsey Boss reached on a bang-bang play on a ball hit to short and later scored on an error. Amanda Crocker and Jasmine Fletcher singled for FA’s other hits.
Speed helped the Red Devils regain the lead in the fifth as she singled and later scored on an error. Jocelyn Portmann put it away with a two-run triple to right-center in the sixth.
Portmann had some trouble laying off the high fastballs Foxcroft righty Kelsey Boss was firing early in the game, but deposited an 0-1 outside fastball the opposite way to give Rudzinski some breathing room.
“It was really important because we’d been struggling a little with the bats in the beginning, and we needed a couple of insurance runs,” said Portmann.
Michelle Ferrie drove in another run in the sixth with a groundout to third to score Portmann while Rudzinski worked around a leadoff walk in the seventh, getting a double play on a strikeout and pickoff at first.
Rudzinski did an effective job of keeping her fastballs down, forcing the Ponies to drive the ball into the ground.
“Our team is so much better this year, we’re working together great,” Rudzinski said. “It’s really nice to be a pitcher on this team because you feel confident in who’s behind you.”
The Red Devils also hit the ball fairly well against a solid pitcher in Boss, stringing together 10 hits. Three Central players — Speed, Kaitlynn Stymiest and Katie Day — had two hits apiece.
“That’s one thing that’s important for us, we need to hit good pitchers and not help pitchers out,” said Washburn. “As long as you’re swinging at good pitches, you’re going to be successful.”