GARDINER — Nokomis played like Nokomis for every inning but one. This year, with how tough Eastern B softball is, that’s enough for a loss.
The Warriors allowed seven unearned runs in a brutal second inning, and Gardiner made a statement by holding on for a 7-4 victory on Monday afternoon.
Nokomis, which played in the Eastern B championship game last season, is now 3-3. Gardiner is 5-0.
“It means a lot,” said Gardiner pitcher Brittany Rollins, who threw a five-hitter with 10 strikeouts. “We’re working very hard this season to get to the Eastern finals. I think we just need to keep working harder to get there.”
“We’ve got a lot of tough teams,” Nokomis coach J.D. McLellan said. “I have a feeling we’re going to go in the playoffs with a worse record than we did last year, and we’re going to have to fight our way through the playoffs. We’ve got such a tough schedule.”
The inning that capsized the Warriors was the bottom of the second. Gardiner hit six fair balls in the inning and Nokomis committed four errors. The Tigers also drew a walk and had two hit batsmen. Five of the seven runs came after two were out.
Nokomis nearly got out the inning down 2-0. With the bases loaded and two down, Bri Brochu hit a hard grounder up the middle. Nokomis shortstop Lacey Kent-Webber made a beautiful diving stop and tried to flip the ball to second for the out, but Kylee Granholm was ruled safe.
Two runs scored on that play, and Taylor Banister and Rollins followed with hard singles to knock in a few more runs. That made it 7-0 after two innings.
“That’s a good-hitting team,” McLellan said. “They’re going to win a bunch of games.”
Trailing 7-1 in the seventh inning, the Warriors rallied as Gardiner caught the bug that had infested Nokomis in the second inning.
Becky Orcutt reached on a dropped fly ball and Taylor Shaw beat out an infield single. Rollins got the next two batters, but then a walk, a 50-foot popup that nobody called and a drag bunt single by Sierra Fortin got Nokomis within 7-4 and brought Taylor Lovley to the plate as the tying run.
Lovley worked the count to 3-2, then fouled off five straight pitches before Rollins retired her on a called third strike to end the game.
“A huge win,” Gardiner coach Ginger Shaw said. “That’s a very quality team. There’s no weaknesses, really. They’re solid from top to bottom. We had that one good, strong inning there. The last inning I was kind of nervous about who was going to take charge, but then Brittany stepped up and really took charge on the mound.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243