WATERVILLE — The Waterville softball team had all weekend to think about losing a seven-run lead and the game to Camden Hills on Friday. On Monday, the Purple Panthers discovered the secret to recovery: Play one of your best games of the year, and don’t let the other team score.

Facing Leavitt, the top-ranked team in Western B, Waterville pitcher Allie Forkey and her defense were strong enough to allow the Panthers’ offense to finally break through. Jenna Gagnon singled home Danielle Jacques in the bottom of the eighth inning and Waterville walked off with a 1-0 victory.

“Last Friday was disheartening,” Waterville coach Matt Madore said. “It’s really easy, after a loss like this, to fall apart. These girls, I’m so proud of them, because man, they held it together, right from the beginning of the game. I never saw anybody hang their head about the other day.”

Until Waterville (5-6) scored in the eighth, neither team even had a runner to third base. Leavitt pitcher Adrie Newton allowed only two hits over the first five innings, and finished the game with a six-hitter and six strikeouts.

“Adrie pitched a great game,” Leavitt coach Pete Higgins said. “It’s a shame she couldn’t win that one. She pitched well enough to win any other time that we’re hitting the ball.”

But Leavitt (8-2) wasn’t hitting, because Forkey (six hits allowed, five strikeouts) pitched well and got errorless support from her defense. After Emily Perkins singled in the second inning, Forkey retired 13 in a row until Tori Zupancic bunted for a single with two out in the sixth.

“We have the hitting, we have great fielding, making very little errors,” said Forkey, a senior transfer who is in her first year on the team. “I can’t ask for much more than that.”

Those 13 batters in a row show why Waterville has improved so much this season. The Panthers wouldn’t have been able to put together streaks like that in the past, when they won two games over the previous two years.

“We’re a much older team,” Jacques said. “We’re actually hitting well this year. We’ve struggled a lot with that in the past. And we’re finally making plays in the field, and it’s making a huge difference.”

The visiting Hornets still had a shot to win in the eighth, when Sierra Santomango opened the inning with a single and Michelle Morin followed with a base hit up the middle. Santomango tried to catch Waterville napping, but center fielder Hannah Allen flipped the ball in to shortstop Kendra Johnson, and Johnson’s throw nailed Santomango at third for the first out. Forkey then finished the inning with a strikeout and a soft lineout.

Jacques led off the eighth by lining a single to center. Morgan Pellerin walked on four pitches and then Gagnon swung at the first pitch and sent a grounder through the right side. Madore, coaching third, went for the win, and Jacques sped around third and slid under a high throw.

“I was going to try it,” Madore said. “I was like, no outs — what the heck? I had Allie, my cleanup hitter, coming up.”

“When he was sending me, my mind went blank,” Jacques said. “I was just so happy that I was going to be the one to finally score it.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

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