AUGUSTA — A few minutes after Oxford Hills seized the momentum in Saturday’s Eastern Maine Class A semifinal softball game, Cony’s Molly Russell snatched it away.

The junior highlighted the Rams’ five-run, sixth inning with a two-run homer over the center-field fence. Cony went on to beat the Vikings 8-1 to advance to Tuesday’s Eastern Maine championship game.

Top-seeded Cony (18-0) will face No. 7 Brewer for the regional title Tuesday night in Augusta while No. 5 Oxford Hills finishes at 12-6.

Russell’s homer followed a wild top of the sixth inning in which Oxford Hills had a run taken away then restored after the umpiring crew got together and changed the call. Bri Martin drew a one-out walk and, following an out, came home on Abby Bernier’s double to the fence in right field. As Martin crossed the plate she shoved Cony catcher Nicole Rugan to the ground and home plate umpire Randy Evans immediately called Martin out to end the inning.

Oxford Hills coach Cindy Goddard protested the call and after a long meeting, the umpiring crew reversed the call and the inning continued. The Rams escaped further damage as Sonja Morse struck out the next batter to end the inning.

“The ball was coming toward me so I had a right to be at the plate,” Rugan said. “I wasn’t blocking it.”

Cony coach Rocky Gaslin agreed with the call but thought Martin should have been ejected from the game.

“Some of the kids were upset because they thought the kid kind of tried to hurt Nicole,” he said. “So they got a little fired up.”

Alyssa Brochu opened the bottom of the sixth by drawing a walk and Russell followed with her first home run over the fence in center field.

“I was just thinking I need to crush the ball,” Russell said.

The homer was the 22nd of the season for the Rams, including a pair of Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A playoff games. And Russell became the eighth player in the starting lineup to homer for the Rams.

“They’ve been a good hitting team,” said Goddard, whose team lost twice to the Rams in the regular season. “Up and down the line.”

The home run unnerved the Vikings defense, which went on to commit three errors in the inning leading to three more runs. Olivia Deeves and Alyssah Dennett each singled during the rally. Both Morse and Oxford Hills starter Crystal West had trouble adjusting to the strike zone.

“Since I’ve been playing so long, I’ve been able to pitch to the umpire,” Morse said. “There were some pitches that were a little iffy but I need to keep composure.”

Morse (10-0) allowed three hits, walked four and struck out 10. She got some help from her defense, which played errorless ball. Arika Brochu made two nice catches in center field, including a ball off her shoetops to rob Haleigh Robinson in the middle of the Vikings’ sixth-inning rally.

Morse started an inning-ending double play in the fourth when she snared Autumn Berry’s line drive and caught Jordyn Sanborn off second base.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]


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