OLD TOWN, Maine — Holding a slim one-run lead in the bottom of the fourth and hits hard to come by, the undefeated Old Town softball team was happy to pick up an insurance run on throwing errors by rival Orono on Wednesday.
An RBI double by Susie Outman that hit the left-field fence on one short hop in the fifth completed the afternoon’s scoring as the Class B Coyotes topped the Class C Red Riots 4-1.
“We had a few throw-arounds,” said Orono coach Kristen Espling. “We let it get away.”
The Old Town half of the fourth started with leadoff hitter Kelsey Hesseltine dropping a ball in front of the plate.
As Hesseltine raced to first, the Orono catcher fired the ball over the outstretched glove of the first baseman and deep into foul territory. The right fielder tracked it down as Hesseltine rounded second and headed to third.
The throw bounced away from the cutoff and Hesseltine scampered home to give Old Town (9-0) a 3-1 lead.
“That’s what we wanted,” said Old Town coach Jenn Plourde of the Coyotes hitting ground balls. “We wanted to make them throw us out.
“We wanted to make it harder on them instead of making it harder on us.”
Still, the Red Riots (7-2) weren’t far away, which is what Plourde expected.
“We knew Orono would be ready for us,” she said. “Class doesn’t matter.”
“This is more of a rivalry game,” said Espling, who still would have liked to “snag a win.”
“This was a tough game, but it was a good game,” added Espling.
Old Town scored in the bottom of the second, started by Meg Leighton’s leadoff single.
She moved to second on a passed ball, to third on Outman’s single and scored on Kayla Madden’s one-out single. One out later, Sami Milton loaded the bases with the first of her two bunt singles, but third baseman Hannah Francis gloved Rachel Martin’s soft line drive to end that threat.
Leadoff hitters were key contributors for the Coyotes. Brittany Cousins singled to start the third inning, stole second, moved to third when third baseman Francis threw to first to get Kendra Hayward and scored on a wild pitch.
Caitlin Goodwin’s one-out bunt single in the fourth gave the Riots their first baserunner and, one out later, she scored on Katie Smith’s double down the left-field line.
The closest Orono came to scoring after that, though, was when the Riots had runners on first and second with one out in the sixth.
One out later, Victoria Goodwin lined a shot into center field that Cousins gloved, but the ball rolled through her glove and started up her left arm before Cousins grabbed it for the third out.
Hayward was hit by a pitch with one out in the fifth, and courtesy runner Michaela Milton scored on Outman’s double.
A soft liner to Hayward in the seventh followed by two hard-hit balls turned into groundouts by shortstop Rachel Martin ended the contest.
“Her agility is phenomenal, and she has the strongest arm on the team. That’s why we put her there,” said Plourde of Martin.
“It was a tough game but a good game,” said Espling. “We kept it within reach, but we couldn’t get people around the bases when we needed to.”
Old Town left fielder Laurel Martin twisted her knee while batting in the second inning and had to leave the game. Her condition was unknown pending a visit to her doctor.
Hayward struck out eight and walked no one, and she limited Orono to five hits.
Molly Burr added a double for the Coyotes, and Orono pitcher Jillian Woodward also pitched well, striking out seven, walking none, hitting two and scattering eight hits.
“She has a good riser,” said Plourde of Woodward. “She got us swinging. We were not as disciplined as we have been.”
Espling doesn’t want this game to define her team, which was No. 3 in Eastern Maine C entering the game.
“If this is the way we play the No. 1 team in Class B, I’m OK with that,” she said.