AUGUSTA — The Cony softball team has had its share of one-run games, playing four of them this spring.
So what was another one Saturday against Skowhegan in a pivotal Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A game?
“A little nerve-racking,” Cony starting pitcher Arika Brochu said. “It’s been kind of our story this year.”
Freshman Delaney Keithley delivered a key run-scoring bunt in the bottom of the sixth inning and Cony held on in the seventh to grab a 3-2 victory before a big crowd at Cony Family Field.
“It’s pretty big,” Cony coach Rocky Gaslin said. “It almost guarantees us first place, which is what we wanted. We get to stay home for the playoffs.”
Brochu went the distance, striking out five and allowing six hits. Her counterpart, Kaitlyn Therriault, allowed just two hits —both infield singles — but walked four.
Keithley and Kassidy Turgeon had the lone hits for the Rams (13-2). Eliza Bedard went 2 for 3 with a pair of singles to pace Skowhegan (11-4).
“We didn’t have our best game,” Skowhegan coach Lee Johnson said. “We gave them some opportunities and they capitalized. That’s what good teams do. I think we’ll still end up in the top four with the loss, but it could be second or third. Who knows.”
The Rams improved to 3-2 in one-run games, but this one didn’t come easy.
They took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning before Skowhegan rallied in the top of the sixth to pull even.
Bedard led off the inning with a line drive single to left and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Brochu retired the next two hitters on an infield groundout and strikeout, but Therriault ripped a single up the middle to plate Bedard and tie the game at 2.
“We battled,” said Johnson.
But it wasn’t quite enough.
Cony played small ball in the bottom of the inning to score the eventual game-winning run.
Turgeon drew a four-pitch leadoff walk and then took second when Maggie Russell laid down a bunt that Skowhegan didn’t field cleanly. Michayla Dostie advanced both runners with a well-executed sacrifice bunt, setting the stage for Keithley.
“I was nervous,” Keithley said “This was a big game. I had confidence in myself but I was in a slump. I just wanted to do something.”
And do something she did.
Keithley dropped a bunt in front of Therriault, who threw to first for the out. However, Turgeon scampered home and beat the return throw to give Cony a 3-2 lead.
“It didn’t matter that I was out,” Keithley said. “I was so happy to get the run in.”
Skowhegan didn’t go quietly in the seventh.
It put runners on second and third with two outs, thanks to singles from Bonnie-Jane Aiken and Mikayla Toth, but Brochu ended the threat and game when she got Bedard to ground out to second.
“It took us a little while to get going,” Brochu said. “But we hung in there and got it done.”