GARDINER — Brittany Rollins started the day pitching one of the best games of her life, but ended up getting a no-decision and playing first base. At the plate, Rollins didn’t get the ball out of the infield her first three at bats, but ended up delivering the winning hit.
That should give you an idea what kind of softball game it was between Winslow and Gardiner on Monday afternoon. Both teams had the lead and lost it, and an RBI single by Rollins with two out in the bottom of the ninth gave Gardiner a 4-3 victory.
“That was a great game,” Gardiner coach Ginger Shaw said. “Exciting the whole way.”
Gardiner (2-0) went after the Black Raiders with aggressive baserunning, sometimes running into outs but also stealing a couple runs in the process. The Tigers went up 1-0 in the first when Kylee Granholm singled, raced to third on another single and scored on a groundout.
Over the first three innings, Rollins overpowered the Winslow hitters. She faced the minimum nine batters, striking out eight. In the fourth, Winslow got a baserunner when Brooke Haskell poked a single to left, but Rollins followed up by getting a popup and a groundout.
With Gardiner still ahead 1-0 heading into the top of the fifth, Shaw had Rollins and first baseman Kristal Smith switch positions. Winslow (2-1) scored two runs in the fifth and another in the sixth to take a 3-1 lead, but all three runs were unearned. Combined, Rollins and Smith allowed three hits and struck out 12 in nine innings.
“The coaching staff and I were talking and it appeared that Winslow was actually getting (Brittany’s) timing down a little bit — if you watch all the foul balls and you watch everything,” Shaw said. “We have two great pitchers and that’s the luxury of having the two of them. They can bounce back and forth.”
Winslow pitcher Megan Richards held Gardiner to one run through five innings. Richards placed the ball well and got some help from her defense, especially from first baseman Jen Poulin in the third inning. Poulin leaped to save a wild throw and later made a running basket catch of a popup.
But in the sixth, the Raiders made a couple errors and Taylor Banister struck for Gardiner. Banister, who finished the day 4 for 4 with three doubles, knocked in a run and scored the tying run when she forced an error by dashing to third on a groundout.
The game stayed tied at 3 until Banister led off the Gardiner ninth. She sent a rope into right-center, but collided with Poulin while rounding first base. The umpires gave her second on an interference call.
“I came around the corner and she was there,” Banister said. “I did, maybe, pull a little bit of acting on it, but, you know…”
Banister was at third with two outs when Rollins came up. Rollins lined a 2-0 pitch off the tip of Richard’s glove and in to center field for the game-winner.
“Oh my gosh, I was really nervous,” Rollins said. “It was kind of stressful, but I was extremely happy when I hit it.”
For Winslow and first-year coach Steve Bodge, the tough loss was probably more valuable in the long run than Winslow’s first two wins, which were by a combined score of 42-2.
“I wanted to know early in the season how good we were,” Bodge said. “I think Gardiner’s probably going to be one of the top teams. So if they are and we can stay with them for nine innings, I’m pretty happy where we’re at.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243