AUGUSTA — Of course, not every game will be like this for Cony softball. It’d take it, but its fans might not make it through the season.
Two days after coming back from a four-run deficit in the sixth inning to nose out Skowhegan in 11 innings, Cony was at it again. This time the Rams scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh for a dramatic 3-2 victory over Messalonskee on Wednesday afternoon at Cony Family Field.
“It’s always nice to be able to come back in games and win â€˜em,” said Cony coach Rocky Gaslin, whose team improved to 3-0. “We’ve done it two times in a row, and it shows good character and the will to win. As coaches, we all appreciate that.”
Despite the low score and fine pitching from Cony’s Arika Brochu and Messalonskee’s Kassi Michaud, there was only one 1-2-3 inning all day. Messalonskee’s Kylee Knight (two singles) scored on a two-out error by Cony right fielder Kassidy Turgeon to give the Eagles a 2-1 lead in the seventh inning.
The softball gods gave Turgeon a chance to redeem herself, and she led off the bottom of the inning with a solid single to right-center field that would have been a double if not for a hustling play by Knight in center field to cut the ball off.
“I just said, â€˜Get a big hit for us. Don’t worry about it, and move on,'” Gaslin said. “Errors happen.”
With freshman Jaime Coull pinch running, Alyssah Dennett ran her at bat to seven pitches before walking on a 3-2 count.
“I was battling,” Dennett said. ” I probably should have swung at that last pitch, but I’m glad I didn’t, because he called it a ball.”
Olivia Deeves followed with a ground ball to shortstop Maddi Charest. When Charest threw to first, Coull simply kept running, and scored the tying run when the relay home was late.
“That was her,” Gaslin said. “She saw an opportunity, and she took off. I want the kids to play the game aggressive, and let them play the game versus me telling them to go and stop. But she just kept on going. She had the speed, and she made it happen.”
But as it turned out, Gaslin made a baserunning decision on the next pitch. With Brochu at the plate and Dennett on third base, the ball tipped off the catcher’s glove. Dennett paused down the line before racing home with the winning run.
“It didn’t look like it was going that far back,” Dennett said. “So I was hesitant. I didn’t want to risk it (and) get thrown out at home — that would be awful. But (Coach) was telling me to go, so I’ve just got to trust him and go.”
Messalonskee (2-1) took a 1-0 lead on a two-out error in the top of the fifth, and the Eagles thought they had another run when Dakota Bragg’s grounder skipped down the third-base line and into the left-field corner. Bragg ended up on second and Cassidy Baker came around to score, but the play was ruled a foul ball. Messalonskee coach Leo Bouchard, who was coaching third at the time, said after the game he thought it was a fair ball.
The Eagles had a chance to double their lead in the sixth when Delaney Collier led off with a double. But Cony shortstop Maggie Russell robbed Taylor Easler of a hit with a lunging grab of a line drive in the hole, and Brochu got out of the jam.
Cony tied the game in the sixth, beginning its rally when Brochu singled and Russell reached on an error. With one out, Michaela Dostie lined a shot to right-center. It looked like a sure double, but Messalonskee right fielder Sophie Holmes backhanded the ball in the gap to hold Dostie to a single and stop Russell at third. After Dostie stole second uncontested, Michaud won a battle with a strikeout on an 11-pitch at bat then got another strikeout to end the inning and keep the game tied.
“She is really on top of her game right now,” Bouchard said. “She’s in midseason form. She’s worked hard over the winter to keep herself going, even though she was playing basketball.”
With only four returning players this season, Bouchard took the view that there’s still a long way to go in the season.
“I thought that we hit their pitcher well,” Bouchard said. “We made some good plays, but being indecisive at some times — it shows, the lack of varsity play. It’s early in the season. It’s not a playoff game. It’s a regular season game.”