HOWLAND — It’s not unusual for a pitcher to have one shaky inning over the course of a game, and that was the case for Penobscot Valley sophomore Kayla Dube Tuesday.
Fortunately for her and the seventh-seeded Howlers, she was virtually flawless for the other six innings.
Dube kept No. 10 Stearns off the board after the second inning and let her teammates chip away, and the result was a 6-4 Eastern Maine Class C softball prelim win over the Minutemen from Millinocket.
“We normally have one inning like that, and thank God we got out of it,” said Dube, who had 12 strikeouts and five walks.
That was enough to power coach Tom Coyle’s Howlers (12-5) to their eighth straight win and into a quarterfinal matchup Wednesday at 2 p.m. at No. 2 Fort Kent.
Penobscot Valley got on the board first, as Ariel Vanadestine ripped a two-run single to left field in the bottom of the first.
Stearns (8-9) got four back in the second thanks to an Ashley Rollins double, three hit batters, a walk, wild pitch and fielder’s choice.
All the damage came with one out, but Dube got a strikeout and foul out to escape further trouble.
“She’s very emotional, and you’ve got to remember she’s only a sophomore,” said Coyle. “She has one inning where she kind of loses it.”
Dube kept her composure, showcasing a lethal inside fastball, a knee-buckling changeup and a riseball.
“She always has one pitch that’s working for her every single game, and today her change was working like crazy,” said Vanadestine. “And her rise was working, too, when we were throwing it.”
PVHS steadily chipped away on offense. Reese Leonard singled, moved to third on back-to-back walks and scored on an error after the Minutemen botched a double-play attempt following Vanadestine’s fly ball to center.
Dube scored the tying run in the fourth. She singled, went to second on a wild pitch, stole third and came home on Leonard’s grounder to shortstop.
The Howlers forged ahead for good in the fifth, as Bethany Heald smacked a deep double to center and scored on a wild pitch.
Heald, 0-for-2 prior to that at-bat, sent a high fastball over the head of Stearns center fielder Emily Wark, who had chased down several fly balls earlier in the game.
“I was very frustrated and then my teammates stood me up and I got my head in it,” said Heald.
Stearns and Penobscot Valley split their two regular-season meetings, so Coyle figured this was going to be a tight game.
“Stearns always plays us hard,” he said. “The last four games we’ve played them have all been decided by less than two runs. They’re a good team.”
Dube aided her cause with two singles, a run and stolen base while Erika Worthing had two singles, three stolen bases and two runs scored for the Howlers.
Thorkatta Thorarinsdottis and Ashley Johnson added base hits for Stearns.