The Cony softball team survived a second test against Oxford Hills on Wednesday and, for the first time this season, the Rams trailed in a game.
Cony (11-0) handed Oxford Hills (10-2) both its losses this year, the first a 4-3 extra inning loss in Augusta last month. The Vikings brought a boisterous crowd to that one and had an even larger and louder one on hand Wednesday in South Paris.
The Rams trailed 4-2 entering the sixth inning when they batted around and scored six times to pull out an 8-4 win. Alyssah Dennett opened the inning with a double and closed it with an RBI single. In between, Sonja Morse and Olivia Deeves delivered two-run singles.
“It was a pretty exciting game,” Cony coach Rocky Gaslin said. “Actually it was good for us. We’ve got a few things we need to work on in practice.”
Gaslin said the Rams were too excited in the early innings and swung at pitches out of the strike zone.
“We have to just calm our nerves and relax a little and play our game,” Gaslin said. “It was good to fight back.”
Morse finished with 13 strikeouts while walking four and allowing four hits, including an inside-the-park home run. She’s 6-0 this season but has been just as valuable with her bat. Going into Wednesday’s game, she was hitting .645 with six doubles, two triples and five home runs. When she’s not pitching, Morse plays shortstop.
“She’s by far the best player I’ve seen in a long time,” Gaslin said. “She’s just a softball player.”
Gaslin has put sophomore Hannah Reis in center field to replace junior Michayla Dostie, who has a leg injury.
“She’s really fast,” he said of Reis.
The Rams face another test today when they host once-beaten Messalonskee.
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Maranacook has injected itself back into the Western Maine Class B tournament picture with three straight wins, including Wednesday’s 6-5 win against previously unbeaten Gardiner.
“Confidence is huge, especially when you beat someone that’s undefeated,” coach Don Beckwith said. “They’re (Gardiner) well coached, they’re good athletes.”
Beckwith said the team is starting to blend together and is finally generating some offense. Senior shortstop Jessie Smith and junior catcher Ashley Michaud are both hitting well and Wednesday the Black Bears got a key hit from freshman Sydney Cameron. Maranacook also got some good defensive plays, the best from left-fielder Lindsay Jackson late in the game.
Pitcher Ashley Belanger, who threw a shutout against Camden Hills last Friday, has been steady on the mound.
“She’s going to give up hits,” Beckwith said. “We’ve got to put runs on the board for her.”
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Gardiner, which suffered its first loss Wednesday to Maranacook, faces an even tougher test today against unbeaten Oceanside in Rockland.
Oceanside beat the Tigers 4-2 in the playoffs last year and returns the same pitcher who won that game in Rachel Frye. They also have one of the conference’s top hitters in Kennedy Grover.
Gardiner coach Ginger Shaw has yet to decide if she’ll start junior Brittany Rollins or sophomore Kristal Smith in the circle. Both are throwing between 77 and 83 percent strikes over their past few games.
“They’re really starting to develop all their pitches,” Shaw said.
As for playing Oceanside, the Tigers are more confident this season.
“Last year it was just to be in the playoffs,” Shaw said. “Now they realize they can actually win.”
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Richmond survived a couple of recent tests, beating Greenville 4-2 in the second game of a doubleheader and Class C Sacopee Valley 5-1. Greenville won 7-0 in the opener.
“We kind of laid down in that one,” Richmond coach Rick Coughlin said. “I don’t know what happened.”
The losses were the first two of the season for Greenville (7-2), a team the Bobcats will likely face in the Class D playoffs. This week, the Bobcats beat a Sacopee team that competes in Class C and plays a predominantly Class B schedule.
“They weren’t a bad team,” Coughlin said. “They hit the ball. We made some great defensive plays.”
The defense has been strong all year, but one of the big surprises has been the play of senior Jamie Plummer, both in the circle and at the plate. Plummer has pitched all nine victories and has allowed just two walks this season.
“They haven’t really hit her hard,” Coughlin said. “They’ve made contact. Her whole game has just improved greatly.”
Plummer played but didn’t hit last season. This year, batting ninth in the lineup, she leads the team with a .571 average. Andra Meagher is hitting .556 followed by Kelsi Obi (.391), Kala Patterson (.375), Noell Acord (.333) and Ciarra Lancaster (.300).
Catcher Chica Obi is out with an injured thumb so senior Bri Snedeker has moved from second base to behind the plate.
“She’s a great athlete,” Coughlin said. “She’s got a great arm. She can play anywhere.”
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With the toughest part of its schedule behind it, Erskine is eyeing a run at the Eastern Maine Class A tournament. The Eagles are 5-6 following Wednesday’s 8-0 win against Mt. Ararat. They’re in eighth in the tournament standings — nine teams qualify — and hope they’ve put some of their spotty defensive plays behind them.
The senior battery of pitcher Alyssa Gartley and catcher Alison Gauvin have played well, both offensively and defensively. But errors in the field have led to an up-and-down season.
“If I’m going to blame it on something, I’m going to call it being young,” Erskine coach Holly Tripp said. “We’ve been plagued by errors this season.”
Tripp also praised the play of sophomore first baseman Emma Robertson.
“She’s having kind of a breakout year,” Trip said. “She’s doing well defensively and her bat has really lit up.”
Erskine plays at Hampden today.
“I just want them to get to the playoffs and have them feel that atmosphere,” Tripp said.
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638