WATERVILLE — On Friday afternoon, Maine Central Institute and Waterville were at exactly the same point in their softball seasons.
Both are young teams learning and knowing they will be much better by the end of the season. Both were also coming off lopsided losses in their last game.
MCI ended up getting the win and the resulting confidence boost. Bri Losee and Ryleigh Lord each scored five runs, and Paige Topel went 4 for 5 with 5 RBIs as the Huskies posted a 23-10 victory in a game shortened to five innings by the 12-run rule.
Waterville lost 22-4 to Winslow on Wednesday, while MCI was coming off a 24-1 loss to Nokomis.
“It feels so good to be on the other side of the stick,” Losee said. “Yesterday was a rough game, but before that, we had only been on the field once, and that was a scrimmage. Nokomis was a rough game, and Nokomis is going to go far. They’re a good team. So bouncing back from a rough game like that, and keeping our heads up, it felt really good to get this win.”
Losee started the game with a bunt back to the pitcher, and used her well-above-average speed to beat it out for a single. Helped by RBI single by Rheanna Lawn (2 for 3, two walks) and Katie George (3 for 5), the Huskies led 4-0 after half an inning.
Waterville bounced back to tie the score with four runs in the bottom of the inning, with the big hit a two-run single by Kaitlyn Spaulding. But MCI essentially put the game out of reach with 13 runs in the top of the second. Topel had a pair of two-run singles in the inning, and the first five batters in MCI’s lineup each scored twice.
Waterville has three players, including two starters, on vacation this week. The Purple Panthers also don’t have enough players for a junior varsity team, so players who might otherwise be able to get experience on JV are thrown into varsity games. Waterville committed four errors in the inning and had some trouble with fly balls — the very thing a team that had to practice inside all season wouldn’t be able to work on.
“We’re very young,” Bickford said. “We tried pop flies yesterday, and with the wind, it didn’t work so well. We’ll get there.”
Spaulding finished with three hits for Waterville, and Kristi Yoos scored three runs. The Purple Panthers rallied in the third, but MCI sophomore Hailey Stewart took over as pitcher and delivered some nice relief work. Lord, MCI’s catcher, caught two runners off base in the last two innings.
“When we came in today, we tried to make sure that (the Nokomis game) was in our past — this is a new game. Different team, different weather,” MCI coach Amanda Riendeau said. “We just wanted to come out confident, and really show what we can do as a team. I think for the most part, we showed that today.”