SKOWHEGAN — Neither Skowhegan pitcher Ashley Alward nor her coach, Lee Johnson, felt Alward had her best stuff in the circle during the Indians’ Class A North quarterfinal game against Cony on Thursday afternoon. It’s a good thing Alward’s B game is pretty good, too.

Alward allowed just one hit, and retired 14 of the Rams final 15 hitters, helping Skowhegan take a 5-0 win.

“I felt (Alward) competed very well today. That’s the biggest thing. I wouldn’t say she had her best stuff today, but what she had she worked very well with and commanded the zone,” Johnson said.

Top-seeded and defending regional champion Skowhegan (15-2) will host No. 4 Bangor (12-5) in the semifinals Saturday. No. 9 Cony ends the season 9-9.

Alward gave up one hit, a line drive by Gaby McGuire that was almost snagged by Skowhegan first baseman Mariah Dunbar. Alward’s control was shaky in the third inning, when she walked a pair of Rams, but she settled down after that. A walk to Brooklyn Belanger with two outs in the sixth inning snapped a run of 10 consecutive hitters retired by Alward and was Cony’s only base runner over the final four innings.

“My fastball was a little shaky (Thursday), but when I needed it to be in there it was. My changeup was a lot better than it has been. I think that kept them guessing a little bit,” Alward, who struck out eight, said. “The defense made some really good plays (Thursday), and that helped me a lot.”

The defensive play of the game came in the sixth, when Skowhegan right fielder Alyssa Everett made a charging snow cone catch of a sinking liner from Delaney Keithley, robbing the Ram of a hit just before the ball hit the grass.

“Our defense made plays when it needed to. I thought it was a whole team effort,” Johnson said.

Added Cony coach Rocky Gaslin: “(Alward) had some good stuff. She didn’t throw a lot of strikes. The umpire was giving her some wide stuff, but he was doing it for both teams. We didn’t make a lot of contact today. She did a good job.”

Offensively, the Indians didn’t hit their stride until the late innings. Skowhegan took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third when Lindsey Warren doubled to deep center to score Alward. In the fifth inning, Skowhegan took advantage of a Cony mistake to pad its lead. Sidney Reed led off with a triple and scored on a wild pitch. Warren also came around from second to score on the play after a Cony throwing error.

“Sometimes it looks like we’re playing not to lose instead of to win. We always talk about how we need to come out and punch them in the face, and we didn’t do that,” Alward said. “I think we were a little flat. Then we started working and realized, we got this, and we kept building on that.”

In the bottom of the sixth, Skowhegan added two more runs on five consecutive hits, including back-to-back RBI doubles from Sydney Ames and Reed. Cony pitcher Cari Hopkins went the distance, striking out four with two walks and 12 hits allowed.

“Hitting’s contagious. (Hopkins) was doing a very good job hitting spots with pitches, putting a little spin on it. We just had a hard time squaring some up a little bit,” Johnson said. “I think once we got a little bit of confidence, we started putting a few together and hit like I think we’re capable of hitting. It’s all about confidence sometimes.”

Reed went 3 for 4 for Skowhegan, finishing a home run shy of the cycle. Alward and Annie Cooke each had two hits for the Indians.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM