WINSLOW — It’s one of the best matchups of the year in Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B softball. Gardiner, last year’s No. 1 team in the KVAC, against Winslow, the team with an eye on earning that title this spring.

It would have been a meeting of two unbeatens, but Winslow lost to Nokomis by a run on Friday. Still, this was a good one, as Gardiner built a lead and held off Winslow’s seventh-inning rally for a 7-5 victory on Monday afternoon.

“We knew that Winslow was really good, and we definitely didn’t look down on them for losing to Nokomis,” Gardiner third baseman Lilly Chepke said. “We knew that they were still going to be a tough team. Things happen, and even at the end, they came back and still were playing with us.”

Winslow lost on Friday because it made eight errors against Nokomis. Against Gardiner, Winslow made four errors, but those led to only three unearned runs. The Tigers left six runners in scoring position and had another runner cut down at the plate, but came up with enough big hits to win.

“I’m happy with scoring five runs,” Winslow coach Steve Bodge said. “We’re going to work on our defense a little more, and we’ll get there. At times, we were able to shut them down, and at other times we just couldn’t. It was a great game. I wish I could have been a fan today and just watched it.”

Winslow led 1-0 in the bottom of the first when Brooke Haskell’s single brought home Paige Veilleux. Gardiner tied that up in the third when Logan Granholm scored on a sacrifice fly by Bri Brochu, but Winslow pitcher Hillary Libby struck out two in a row to end the inning with runners on second and third.

The Raiders went back up 2-1 in the third, as Kylee Morrissette scored from second on a single by Hayley Pottle. Morrissette was originally ruled out after a strong throw from Gardiner right fielder Mary Toman, but after some pleading and arm-waving by Bodge, the umpires conferred and ruled Morrissette safe, after the Gardiner players had already left the field.

The game changed for good in the top of the fourth. Lauren Boyington and Mikayla Shaw drew walks around a double by Julia Nadeau, and Hannah Doble came in to pitch with the bases loaded and nobody out. After walking Logan Granholm to tie the score, Doble got two quick outs, but Chepke slapped one inside the third-base line. Chepke probably could have run all day, but the ball went past a chalk line in foul territory that was even with the fence, and she had to settle for a two-run, ground-rule double and a 4-2 Gardiner lead.

“I was hoping to have a triple on it, but it got called back,” Chepke said. “I just knew we needed a big hit, and I was focused and I was ready to bat. And I wanted it.”

Gardiner pitcher Kristal Smith struck out 16 in her last complete game, a no-hitter against Nokomis on Wednesday. Smith struck out only two Winslow batters, but consistently got a popup or a grounder when she needed a big out. That was the case in the bottom of the fourth, when Jenna Petrovic tripled with one out but was left at third on two infield popouts.

The Tigers (6-0) added a run in the fifth and two in the sixth, and led 7-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh. Smith retired the first two batters, but then walked Sarah Guimond and Veilleux. Pottle then doubled both runners home. When Pottle scored on an error, the tying run was at the plate, the Raiders fans were screaming, and Queen’s “We Will Rock You” blared from the Winslow PA system as Gardiner coach Don Brochu went out to talk to Smith.

“I just told her to relax,” Brochu said. “Just make the defense do the work (and) throw strikes. Have fun. Don’t get down on yourself. We’re all right.”

The game ended on the next pitch with a popout to Smith. Winslow is now 4-2, but Bodge remains positive.

“We’ve got huge games coming up, huge opportunities,” Bodge said. “I think Leavitt will have four or five wins when we play them on Friday, and then Oceanside will have five or six wins. Nokomis’ record is (3-2), but we all know they’re a really good team, and obviously Gardiner’s No. 1 and deserves to be No. 1 until somebody knocks ’em out.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo


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