OAKLAND — Skowhegan scored 44 runs over its first three games, and two more in the first inning Friday afternoon. But what made Indians coach Lee Johnson confident was when he saw the way Kaitlyn Therriault was pitching.
“I could tell in the first inning, when she started throwing some change-ups, and her spins were moving,” Johnson said. “Then I knew she was going to be pretty tough to hit today. When she’s doing that stuff, she’s pretty good.”
Therriault was in control throughout, and set down Messalonskee’s strong lineup with her first career no-hitter, propelling the Indians to a 3-0 victory.
Therriault pitched brilliantly in Skowhegan’s first two games before a 12-9, 11-inning loss to Cony on Monday.
“Usually, warming up, all my pitches are working pretty well,” Therriault said. “Then, in the game, they work. My changeup was working a lot better today, and I didn’t have that against Cony.”
“Today, Kaitlyn had a variety of things working, got ahead in the counts a lot,” Johnson said. “She dictated the at-bats, and that’s what you want to try and do.”
Messalonskee pitcher Kassi Michaud held Skowhegan (3-1) to five hits, but the Indians scratched out two runs in the top of the first inning. Mikayla Toth led off with a walk and one out later Taylor Johnson ripped an RBI double to left-center field. Johnson went to third when the throw in from the outfield got away and then scored on a misplayed ground ball.
“It’s just the fourth game of the season,” Messalonskee coach Leo Bouchard said. “It’s not the playoffs. We’ll get better as we go on.”
Michaud was working on a three-hitter until the seventh, when Toth beat out an infield single with one out, Eliza Bedard bunted her to second, and Johnson delivered an RBI single. The Indians haven’t had to play much small ball this spring, so showing they could do that was an encouraging sign.
“That’s what we kept talking about,” Johnson said. “We said, â€˜What are we going to do on a day when we don’t the hit ball the way we’ve been hitting the ball? Can we win the game pitching and playing defense?’ Because we know in the end that’s where you’re going to win a championship, if you can pitch and play defense. I like it a lot better when we hit the ball a lot more, but we’ll take it when we get it.”
That last run was just insurance, as Therriault finished with six strikeouts and no walks. She also threw 59 strikes out of 78 pitches. Messalonskee’s only two baserunners both reached on errors.
Although Therriault wasn’t aware she had a no-hitter going, she did have a few close calls. In the third, first baseman Taylor Johnson made a nice play in the hole and then beat Kelsey Dillon to first base. In the fifth, shortstop Emma Fitzgerald made a backhand catch of Taylor Easler’s soft line drive. And in the sixth, Madisyn Charest hit the ball on the nose, but Toth was right there in center field for the catch.
“Therriault pitched a hell of a game today,” Bouchard said. “She mixed up her pitches real well. She had good spin on the ball. Her changeup was working real well. It was warm weather. That probably helped her a little. She was in a groove. She looked fantastic.”