FAIRFIELD — Lawrence began the softball season with two straight wins, but that obscured that the Bulldogs had a lot of key players to replace from last season’s team.
Virtually all teams in that situation go through a learning process, and part of that process is that there are days when it just seems impossible to get that third out and get back on offense. The Bulldogs had one of those days on Wednesday afternoon, falling 18-3 to visiting Brewer.
Brewer finished 15-1 last season, but was 3-3 this season after six games. Since then, the Witches have won three straight.
“We struggled,” Brewer coach Skip Estes said. “They’re feeling a little bit more comfortable. They’re making the plays they have to make. Now they’re starting to hit the ball, too.”
The Witches scored a pair of runs in the top of the first inning on a two-out error, but Lawrence (2-6) put runners on second and third with nobody out in the bottom of the first. Brewer pitcher Meg Davis followed with a strikeout and two foulouts to keep Lawrence scoreless.
“It takes the momentum out of the other team,” Estes said. “We did that against Messalonskee, where they had bases loaded, no outs in the last inning, and we stopped them from scoring. At the beginning of the season, we’d get ahead, but we couldn’t shut a team down. The last three games, we’re starting to shut teams down.”
The top of the second inning was a rough one for the Bulldogs, as Brewer scored seven runs on four hits, three walks and four Lawrence errors. But now trailing 9-0, Lawrence put six of its first seven batters on base to start the bottom of the second. Emily McLean battled through eight pitches to draw a bases-loaded walk, and Audri Fortier singled home another run. With the score 9-3 and the bases loaded, Brewer reliever Ally Chapman struck out back-to-back batters to end the inning.
Brewer dominated the rest of the game, and catcher Sam Pellegrino ended up 5 for 6 with two doubles. The Witches scored three runs in the sixth, and four more in the seventh, and the Lawrence players and coaches met for several minutes after the game.
“The big message was that we can’t let one mistake turn into two,” Lawrence coach Joey Marcoux said. “My message was that one mistake doesn’t cost you the game, but if you let the one mistake affect the next play, then it can cost you the game.”
Even in a game like this, there were still some moments for Lawrence. The Bulldogs had a nice relay from center fielder Paige Belanger to McLean to catcher Abby King to nail a runner at the plate. Pitcher Julia Lawrence’s effort certainly couldn’t be questioned, as she threw 202 pitches.
“They’re Lawrence kids,” Marcoux said. “The kids are battlers. They’re not going to quit. Some teams out-talent us, but they’re not going to out-heart us. That’s why I keep coming back every year. They’re great kids, and they want to win, and they want to do what’s right. Sometimes we just don’t, and that’s what high school sports is all about.”