READFIELD — Edged in its opener and blown out in its second game, the Waterville softball team was eager to shake off a tough start.
The Purple Panthers did just that Monday afternoon, but it certainly wasn’t easy.
Starting pitcher Jasmine Durant settled down after a rocky start and Waterville plated four runs in a decisive third inning to fend off Maranacook 10-7 in a Class B game.
“Now we got that win out of the way we can settle down and start to have a good season,” Waterville coach Meaghan Donnell said. “We lost a nailbiter and then we lost a game where our heads weren’t in it. We needed this one.”
Waterville (1-2) opened the season with a 3-2 loss to Camden Hills before falling to rival Winslow 20-2. The Panthers finally broke through Monday thanks to a few big innings early and a gutsy performance from Durant.
Nicole Martin went 2 for 4 with three RBIs and leadoff hitter Jenna Gagnon tripled and drove in a pair to lead the charge for Waterville.
Amber Ridlon had three singles and drove in two runs to lead Maranacook. Ashley Belanger also drove in a pair of runs.
“This is a big win for us,” Martin said. “Once we got going, it got easier for us.”
Waterville scored three in the first and two more in the second but it wasn’t until the third inning when it finally pulled away.
The Panthers loaded the bases with no outs and the game tied 5-5 before Maranacook starter Ashley Belanger walked in the go-ahead run.
Kristi Yoos and Gagnon followed with RBI hits.
“We found a few gaps,” Donnell said.
Added Maranacook coach Don Beckwith: “If we are going to make the playoffs, we are going to have to play much better than we did (Monday).
Durant, meanwhile, settled down after a rough start. She allowed two runs in the first inning and three more in the second, but then silenced Maranacook until the seventh. Durant struck out five and allowed just three baserunners from the third through sixth innings.
The Black Bears pulled within 10-7 when Belanger and Ridlon hit consecutive RBI singles. However, Durant got two groundouts and a strikeout to end the threat and the game.
“It takes me a little time sometimes to get warmed up and in the game,” Durant said. “I was throwing a new pitch (a drop) that my coach taught me, too. It seemed to work.”
Added Donnell: “I was a little nervous in the seventh, but I called time and just got them to relax.”
Maranacook played without two key players in senior Jessie Smith (knee injury) and cleanup hitter Kaitlyn Chick, who left with what Beckwith called a hamstring injury.
Still, the Black Bears committed three errors which led to a few unearned runs as well.
“Mistakes hurt us,” Beckwith said. “(Waterville) deserved to win but our inexperience showed.”
Bill Stewart — 621-5640