WALES — Oak Hill softball coach Allyson Collins brought sophomore Makayla Nadeau up to the varsity for Tuesday afternoon’s game with Winthrop. Collins’ intention was to have Nadeau possibly throw a few innings, but that one move ended up changing the whole game in a way Collins certainly hadn’t counted on.
Senior Lauren Beganny, who was scheduled to start in the circle for Oak Hill, injured herself fielding a ground ball in warmups. Collins turned to Nadeau, who tossed a four-hitter to go along with seven strikeouts in her first varsity game as the Raiders earned a key 4-2 Mountain Valley Conference victory.
Beganny and Sadie Goulet have been pitching on the varsity for Oak Hill (6-5) this spring, but Collins said she wanted Goulet to play third base, and the Raiders responded with their first errorless game of the season.
“(Makayla) was going to go in, maybe fifth inning today,” Collins said. “I was like, âWell, I guess you’re on, kid.’ We wanted to keep Sadie in the infield to keep our infield strong. Makayla went out there and threw a heck of a game.”
“I was definitely very nervous,” Nadeau said. “Never played in a varsity game before, but I just kind of went out there and just threw.”
Nadeau walked a pair of batters in the first inning, but freshman catcher Emma Hlister nabbed a runner trying to steal third to end the inning. In the bottom of the second, the Raiders got four of their six hits to score three runs.
Grace Sabine doubled over the third-base bag with one out, and scored with two down when Jamie Prue reached on a misjudged popup. Prue later stole home on a delayed double steal for one run, and Iris Abbott lined a clean single to center to make it 3-0.
Winthrop, meanwhile, got three of its four hits in the top of the third. Tessie Moody started things off with a double before Kaleigh Oberg reached on an infield single. With two out, speedy Cat Ouellette legged out another infield single. After walking Alyssa Arsenault and Abby Helm to force in a run, Nadeau faced Krissy Doughty, who fisted a looper into shallow center field. Shortstop Brooke Surette raced out and made a running catch to save at least two runs.
“Oh my gosh, I was so glad that she caught that,” Nadeau said. “That was definitely a tough catch, but I knew she could do it.”
After that inning, Winthrop (7-3) had only two baserunners — a walk by Alyssa Arsenault in the sixth, and a two-out single by Oberg in the seventh. Nadeau finished the game with 117 pitches.
“She’s grown up a ton this year, even from preseason to now,” Collins said. “Just speed, and accuracy, and confidence — a huge difference from last year.”
“The games where we don’t hit well, it just seems like everything goes wrong,” Winthrop coach Bob Ouellette said. “The last two or three games, our hitting has been not there. We will get back to hitting again.”
Oak Hill’s final run came in the fifth, when Hlister slugged a leadoff triple and scored on a sacrifice bunt by Sara Noel.
Ten teams make the playoffs in Western B, and Oak Hill was in 10th on Tuesday afternoon. By Tuesday night, the Raiders were in sixth.
“We were coming into this knowing that it was a must-win,” Collins said. “(Monday) we had a long team meeting about what we need to do in order to get ourselves in the playoffs. The last few games, we’ve been really flat coming out. But today, the intensity was there. They were up. They were there for each other. It was just a whole different team walked on the field — the team that was there at the beginning of the season. We just couldn’t get back there, and now we’re back. Hopefully, they stick around.”