OAKLAND — When lightning flashed above the Cony/Messalonskee softball game Friday afternoon, the host Eagles had a potential win in their back pockets since they led 1-0 and had played the requisite five innings.
But play resumed 30 minutes later and Cony scored four runs in the sixth to take a 4-1 lead. Lightning flashed again for Messalonskee in the bottom of the seventh, this time in the metaphorical sense, as the Eagles rallied for four runs to pull out a 5-4 victory, their first against the Rams in three years.
“This game is huge for us,” said leadoff hitter Kylee Knight, who drove in the wining run with a sacrifice fly. “Cony always does a great job against us, they’re a great team. A lot of people came up big today. Everyone contributed, it was awesome.”
Cony (12-2) maintained its hold on first place in the Eastern Maine Class A standings while Messalonskee (11-4) moved up to fourth with a game left to play.
“It’s a big win, but it’s not a playoff win,” Messalonskee coach Leo Bouchard said. “That’s something we’re striving for. We’ve got Skowhegan on Monday, maybe we can use this as a springboard. This is a big confidence booster for my kids.”
The Eagles got a solid pitching performance from senior Kassi Michaud and some sparkling defense from junior right-fielder Kristy Prelgovisk, who caught a ball and doubled up a runner at home to end the first inning after the Rams had loaded the bases. She made an even bigger play in the sixth when she stabbed Alyssah Dennett’s shot to right-center to hold the Rams to a sacrifice fly.
“I just saw it coming and I ran out and jumped and tried to catch it as best I could,” Prelgovisk said. “I got it.”
Added Cony coach Rocky Gaslin: “That gap shot I thought for sure was to the fence, She made a hell of a catch out there.”
Cony junior Arika Brochu fanned the first batter she faced in the bottom of the seventh for her 10th strikeout of the game. The next five batters, comprising the bottom half of the batting order, all reached base, Taylor Easler singled to left and Brochu issued her first walk of the game to Delaney Collier. Dakota Bragg followed with a two-strike double to left center off a Brochu changeup to make it 4-2.
“I called that changeup,” Gaslin said. “I’ll take the blame. She had been pulling everything,”
An error on Kirsten Pelletier’s ground ball made it 4-3 before Madisyn Charest, batting in the No. 9 spot, singled solidly to right to tie the game. Knight’s fly ball to right was deep enough to allow Pelletier to easily score the winning run.
While Brochu breezed through the first three innings, Michaud battled out of three jams. Prelgovisk’s shoestring catch of Maggie Russell’s blooper to right and throw to the plate ended the first while first baseman Cassidy Baker made a nice running catch in foul ground in the second. Olivia Deeves led off the third for the Rams with a base hit and stole second, but was stranded there when Michaud bore down to retire the next three batters.
Knight reached on an infield hit, stole second and scored on Prelgovisk’s single just inside the first base bag to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead in the fourth. The lightning delay likely had an effect on both teams and pitchers.
“We had that wet half inning,” Bouchard said. “Kassi’s fingers are a little short and she struggled hanging onto the ball, I think Arika might have had the same problem, The ball was wet, the ball was damp, the ball was muddy.”
Kassidy Turgeon led the sixth with a base hit to left, her second of the game, but was erased on Russell’s fielder’s choice. A walk to Mikayla Dostie and Delaney Keithley’s infield hit loaded the bases. Messsalonskee’s defense, which had played so well, let down on Skylar Watson’s ground ball and two errors on the same play allowed two runs to score. Dennett’s sacrifice fly made it 4-1 but Prelgovisk saved a big inning with her catch.
“Kristy’s made a big difference for us,” Bouchard said. “She’s solidified the middle of the lineup, she solidifies the outfield.