OLD TOWN, Maine — The Hermon High School softball team hadn’t hit the ball out of the infield through six innings against hard-throwing Old Town High School junior right-hander McKenna Smith during Thursday’s clash of Class B North powers.
But Katie Windsor’s two-out, run-scoring single in the top the seventh capped a two-run rally that tied the game and Laura Zenk belted a three-run homer in the eighth to give the Hawks a thrilling 7-4 triumph.
Jasmine Smith ripped a three-run double into the left-center with two outs in the bottom of the the sixth to erase a 2-1 deficit and give the Coyotes a 4-2 lead.
But Zenk drew a leadoff walk to start the seventh, moved to third on a groundout and a wild pitch and scored when Hailey Perry dropped a single into left center, the first ball to leave the infield for 3-0 Hermon.
Winning pitcher Breanne Oakes walked and, after a strikeout, Windsor poked an opposite-field single into right-center to tie it up.
“I made the last out in the playoff game last year so I knew I had to come through this time,” Windsor said, referring to the Hawks’ 1-0 loss to Old Town in the Class B North semifinals.
“She’s a good hitter. I play with her on a Sluggers (Baseball and Softball Facility) team. She poked it out there,” Smith said.
The Coyotes (2-1) loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the seventh, but Oakes worked her way out of the jam with a strikeout and a grounder back to the mound.
Chloe Raymond opened the eighth when she reached on a throwing error on her bunt.
No. 9 hitter Jaelen Albert followed by working a walk after fouling off eight two-strike pitches during a 14-pitch at-bat.
The left-handed Zenk then went down and hit a low pitch over the center field fence.
“It was a nice, low pitch on the outside corner,” Zenk said. “When I hit it, it felt perfect.
“Being the leadoff hitter, I’m usually a slap hitter, but that time my mentality was I had to get the runs in,” Zenk said.
“She’s my best friend, and she knows how I pitch,” Smith said. “That was good for her, but it sucked for me.”
Smith added that Albert’s 14-pitch at-bat was “incredible. She made me work hard.”
A walk to Jasmine Smith and McKenna Smith’s ringing double to right-center staked Old Town to a 1-0 lead in the first inning. But two walks, two wild pitches and a throwing error tied it for Hermon in the second and the Hawks parlayed a walk, a hit batsman, Oakes’ infield hit and another hit batsman into a fifth-inning run.
“That’s Hermon-Old Town softball. It doesn’t get any better than that,” Hermon coach Rob Jenkins said. “Perseverance is the key word for the year. It was a great character game and will carry us through the rest of the year.”
Oakes went the distance. She allowed eight hits and four runs with six strikeouts and seven walks. She stranded 11 runners.
Smith tossed a seven-hitter with 17 strikeouts and eight walks.
“(Smith) is a very good pitcher,” Windsor said.
Oakes and Windsor each had two singles for Hermon to complement Zenk’s homer. McKenna Smith had a double and a single, and Morgan Love had two singles for Old Town to go with Jasmine Smith’s three-run double.