HAMPDEN – The Class A North between defending state champion Skowhegan and contender Hampden Academy featured a masterful pitcher’s duel between Skowhegan junior Sierra Carey and Broncos senior Danielle Masterson.
For the second time this season, Carey and the River Hawks emerged with a 1-0 triumph over Masterson and the Broncos despite the fact Masterson struck out 18 River Hawks.
Carey tossed a four-hitter, striking out nine and walking one. She threw 93 pitches, 64 for strikes.
Masterson pitched a six-hitter and had only one walk to go with her 18 strikeouts. She struck out seven hitters in a row from the third to the fifth innings.
She threw 111 pitches of which 78 were strikes.
“There were two great pitchers on the field today,” said Skowhegan coach Lee Johnson. “Both kids threw very well. Both had good stuff, they commanded the zone really well.
“You saw the number one and number two pitchers in Class A North,” said Hampden Academy coach Matt Madore. “I am so proud of [Masterson]. She was dominant in the circle.
“They earned the win. They were able to put their bat on the ball at the right time,” he added.
Skowhegan is now 8-1 while Hampden Academy fell to 6-3.
Pivotal play: Sophomore second baseman Maddy Morris fell behind Masterson 1-2 in the count with one out and nobody on in the third inning. Masterson tried to fool her with a change-up but Morris kept her weight back and rifled a scorching line drive down the third base line for a double.
On the next pitch, senior shortstop Jaycie Christopher drilled a double into the right center field gap to score her with the game’s only run.
“I knew she was going to throw me a change-up or a rise ball and I was ready for it,” said Morris. “It was right down the middle and I was sitting back on it and I got my [front] foot down.”
Christopher went to the opposite field to knock her in.
Madore said Johnson mixed up his batting order as Christopher usually hits third instead of in the leadoff spot like she was on Wednesday and Morris usually hits higher up in the order.
Morris, who had scored the only run in the earlier game between the two, and Christopher each had a double and a single.
Carey was also backed by a very good defense with right fielder Reese Danforth making an exceptional sliding catch with two outs in the sixth to rob Cam Neal of a potential game-tying double.
In the seventh, alert first baseman Riley Fitzpatrick chased down an errant throw on a grounder to second base by Meghan Delahanty and threw to Christopher at second to nail her for the first out of the inning.
Callie Small had two singles for Hampden Academy.
Takeaway: Don’t be surprised if these two teams meet in the Class B North final. Brunswick, Oxford Hills of South Paris and Bangor are also in the mix but Masterson and Carey are two of the premier pitchers in the state and they are backed by solid defenses.
What’s next: Hampden Academy visits Lewiston on Friday at 4 and Skowhegan travels to Brewer for a 2 p.m. game on Saturday.