SKOWHEGAN — There was little more at stake than pride Friday when Skowhegan hosted Edward Little for the Kennebec Valley Conference Athletic Conference softball championship, but there was also some gamesmanship going on.

Skowhegan, the top-seeded team in Class A North for the upcoming tournament, won the game 3-2 to avenge a two-run loss to the Red Eddies during the regular season.

Both teams started different pitchers than they did in their previous meeting, the Indians going with junior Ashley Alward and the Eddies using freshman Chantel Ouellette.

Alward was unhittable through four innings, striking out nine, including eight in a row at one point. As he’s done nearly all season, Skowhegan coach Lee Johnson lifted Alward in the fifth for sophomore Sydney Ames with his team holding a 2-0 lead..

“Those two pitchers are the hardest-throwing pitchers in our league,” Edward Little coach Elaine Derosby said.

The Indians ran their lead to 3-0 with a run in the bottom of the fifth, but Ames ran into trouble in the sixth when the Eddies scored twice on three singles and an error. Johnson brought Alward back to the mound in the seventh and she wrapped up the win with a 1-2-3 inning, fanning the final two batters. In five innings she didn’t allow a hit, issued one walk to lead off the game and struck out 11.

“I felt good,” Alward said. “My curve ball was good tonight.”

Johnson had thought about using the pitching strategy at some point this season.

“We thought it was the right situation to see how it works,” Johnson said. “When Sydney was in there they didn’t really hit the ball hard. We had talked about how it worked if we brought the kid back in. You never know, you might get that situation in the playoffs.”

Ouellette pitched well and was helped by two double plays and a couple of nice catches in left field from Grace Beaudet. Senior Kylie Bureau was on the mound when the Eddies downed the Indians 3-1 five weeks ago.

“Chantel has really pitched well of late, not that Kylie hasn’t,” Derosby said. “And we didn’t want them to see Kylie again in case we go with Kylie in the playoffs.”

While Ames admittedly didn’t have her best stuff on the mound, she was hot at the plate. Beaudet took away extra bases from her with a catch bear the fence to open the game. Ames followed with a single and double and scored two runs.

“I mostly focus on keeping my eye on the ball and turning me hips,” Ames said. “We’re a pretty good hitting team.”

The Indians scored twice in the third when Alyssa Everett led off with a walk and Ames grounded up the middle. EL shortstop Taylor Depot made a diving stop but couldn’t get the ball out of her glove to make a play. Alward made them pay an out later when she singled down the right-field line to drive in two. Ames led off the fifth with a double to the gap in left-center and scored on a wild pitch.

The teams met in the North regional final a year ago with Skowhegan winning and could well see each other again. The Indians finished 14-2 in the regular season while the Eddies went 12-4.

“I don’t know if I’ve seen a year where there’s been this much parity from top to bottom,” Johnson said. “Being able to go 14-2 is a pretty good accomplishment. Pitching is at a premium this year but there’s a lot of good hitting and very good defensive teams. Everybody has some strengths and weaknesses.”