AUGUSTA — Molly Russell’s calculated risk paid off while an under-the-weather Sonja Morse gutted out a win as the Cony softball team survived its first test of the season Friday against Oxford Hills.

Russell singled and scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning on Michayla Dostie’s infield hit to give the Rams a 4-3 victory. The win was the 24th in a row for Cony (4-0), dating back to last season, while Oxford Hills falls to 4-1.

In the eighth, Russell moved to second on a base hit by her sister Maggie. Dostie followed with a hit that glanced off the glove of Vikings pitcher Crystal West. Russell kept running from second as the ball bounced into short left field and beat a throw from shortstop that went wide of the plate.

“Once I saw the shortstop bobble it I (kept going),” Russell said. “I just wanted to score. It boosts our confidence up so much. We’ve always had close games with them ever since I’ve been here.”

Morse breezed through the Vikings lineup the first time around, striking out eight of the first 10 batters she faced. But they timed her up in the middle innings and put the ball in play, scoring twice in the fourth inning and once in the fifth to tie the game.

“We were undefeated coming to this game but we haven’t really been tested,” Oxford Hills coach Cindy Goddard said. “Just knowing the speed of the pitching we were going to see was going to be a big change. That rise ball (is tough). They just kind of made the adjustment and hung in there.”

Morse (2-0) finished with 16 strikeouts, allowed five singles and walked three but did not have her best control.

“She was on her death bed yesterday and she’s got the flu today,” Cony coach Rocky Gaslin said. “It wasn’t her best performance but she gutted it out.”

West kept the Vikings in the game. The junior allowed nine hits, struck out five and walked one. She spotted her fastball and changed speeds effectively. The Rams scored two runs in the first on three Oxford Hills errors and an RBI single from Morse. Arika Brochu singled and scored on Allysah Dennett’s double in the third, but that was it for the Rams until the eighth.

“We knew coming in here this was going to be one of the hardest games of the season because we battled last year,” Morse said. “And we were pretty good last year.”

West escaped jams in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. In the sixth, Maggie Russell tripled to center but was stranded at third and in the seventh, Hannah Reis reached on an error and Olivia Deeves bunted for a base hit. West then got Brochu on a fly to center and Angel Witham stabbed Dennett’s rising liner to right to end the inning.

Maggie Russell led the Rams with three hits while Taylor Johnson, Shannon Fillebrown and Anna Winslow drove in runs for the Vikings.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]

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