SKOWHEGAN — The Skowhegan Area High School softball team had been waiting for the bats to break out and, finally, on Saturday, they did.

After weeks of solid pitching and defense, the top-seeded Indians finally scored runs in bunches the way head coach Lee Johnson hoped they eventually would.

Skowhegan broke out the bats in support of a flawless pitching performance from Ashley Alward, scoring runs in all but one inning en route to a 12-0 win over No. 4 Bangor in a Class A North semifinal that was shortened to five innings. Leadoff hitter Sydney Ames delivered the crushing blow, a two-run double with one out in the fifth that sent everyone home early. Skowhegan will face No. 3 Oxford Hills in the regional final on Wednesday night.

Saturday marked the first time Skowhegan reached double digits in runs scored against a playoff-bound team since beating Messalonskee 10-4 in the second game of the season.

“We had a lot of confidence today,” Johnson said. “I saw confidence really building. If you can jump on somebody like that, you get confidence, and we were a very confident team today. That’s what happens when you’re confident. It was a really good day for us.”

Ames was emblematic of an impressive performance from the Indians (16-2), who cruised to their 11th straight win dating exactly one month to the day. Led by Ames’ 3 for 4 performance with three runs scored and three more driven in, every member of the Skowhegan lineup produced in some fashion — with either a hit, a run scored or an RBI.

Of the 10 runners to reach base before the first out was recorded in an inning, nine of them eventually came around to score.

“At the beginning of the year, we struggled a little bit with our hitting,” said junior third baseman Lindsey Warren, who was 2 for 3 with two runs batted in. “We’ve worked on it every day since, and the confidence is finally there. We’re just building.”

Perhaps the best example of Skowhegan’s ability to finally put crooked numbers on the scoreboard in bunches came via the bat of Warren in the fateful fifth. After falling behind in the count 0-2, the junior third baseman fouled off five of the next six pitches from Bangor reliever Morgan-Carter Moulton, finally delivering an RBI single to center on the ninth pitch of the at-bat.

That handed the Indians a 7-0 lead and was only beginning to get the ball rolling on the big inning.

“We’ve talked about (being selective) a lot,” Warren said. “I didn’t want to strike out and I had to do my job. We had people on base, and I knew I’d get the pitch eventually.”

“We want to be selective early but definitely with two strikes we’re trying to protect,” Johnson said. “Foul off as many pitches as we can to find something we can work with. The kids did a great job with that today. Especially, Lindsey’s at-bat — fouled off, fouled off, fouled off, and then finally won the battle.”

All of the offense from Skowhegan, which scored three in the first and two more in the second off Rams’ starter Lexi Cunningham, was more than enough for Alward. The hard-throwing junior retired all 15 batters she faced in the game, registering seven strikeouts and allowing just two balls to be hit out of the infield.

Where both pitchers for Bangor (12-6) often worked from behind in the count — 11 of the 28 plate appearances from Skowhegan extended to three-ball counts — Alward was a study in contrast. Only two Ram hitters worked Alward that deep in the count, and neither of those came after Alward struck out Grace Perron looking at a called third strike on a fastball over the inside corner to end the second inning.

“I can tell when she’s having a better game, but she always comes ready to play,” catcher Sydney Reed said of Alward’s performance. “It kind of built today. After four innings, you could tell. You don’t want to get too ahead of yourself, and Bangor’s a good team, so we wanted to still be careful.”

Like in the busy Skowhegan bats, Johnson saw confidence brewing in Alward’s game in the circle.

“She was in attack mode today,” Johnson said. “She went after the batters, got ahead in the count and used her stuff, and she had really good command today.”

Warren (2 for 2, 2 RBIs) singled home the third run in the second inning, after Skowhegan took a 2-0 lead on a Cunningham wild pitch and an error by Bangor center fielder Madi Duke. In the second inning, Ames’ RBI single up the middle and Reed’s sacrifice fly to right made it a 5-0 game. Emma Duffy tacked on another run in the fourth, leading off with a triple to right-center and motoring all the way around to score on Bangor second baseman Perron’s errant relay throw to third.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

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Twitter: @TBarrettGWC