SOUTH CHINA — Through a quirk of the schedule, Erskine doesn’t play Gardiner or Winslow this season, and those teams happen to be possibly the two best softball teams in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B. That means when the Eagles get a point-worthy team like Leavitt on the schedule, the game becomes even more important.

The Eagles gave it their best shot, putting 11 runners on base in the first five innings. But only three of them came around the score, and the result was a gut-wrenching 4-3 loss to Leavitt on Wednesday afternoon.

“These girls showed up, knowing that this game was big, and they knew they needed to swing the bats,” Erskine coach Holly Tripp said. “And as soon as they knew they could get on, they were excited, and they were doing it.

“But it just burns you, when you leave two on in scoring position. We did that at least two times. We’ve been focusing on executing. We’ve (got to) keep focusing on executing. And if you ask them, that’s exactly what they will say too: We’ve (got to) get them in.”

The Eagles (5-4) left seven runners on base, and six of them in scoring position. In contrast, Leavitt second baseman Maddie Green went 3-for-3 — a two-out RBI double, a two-out RBI single, and the game-winning RBI single with one out in the sixth inning.

“They’re definitely one of our hardest competitors to go against,” Green said. “We just came into this game saying, ‘We want this. We want to win.’ So we just came with all we have.”

Erskine’s agony began in the first inning. After Mallory Chamberlain struck out the side in the top of the first, Amber Grady led off the bottom of the inning with a single and moved to third when the ball went to the fence for an error. But Leavitt pitcher Angela Daigle kept Grady at third with a foulout, a groundout and a strikeout. The groundout was typical of Erskine’s luck on the afternoon — Taylor McLaggan hit a sharp grounder, but it was hit right to third baseman Cierra Hilliard, and hit so hard that Grady had no chance to score on the play.

The Hornets (7-2) went on top 1-0 in the second on Green’s first RBI single, but Erskine tied it up in the bottom of the inning when Mackenzie Gayer bunted home Emma Robertson. With Leavitt committing five errors in the first three innings, the Eagles scored again in the third as McLaggan singled home Avery Bond, but Erskine also left runners on second and third.

Leavitt got the next two runs, as Green’s single brought home Kaitlyn DeBlois in the fourth, and Nikki Daigle used her speed to bunt for a single and race around the bases in the fifth. Now ahead 3-2, the Hornets made a change in the circle for the fifth inning, with Abby Robertson replacing Angela Daigle.

“That’s just kind of a thing that’s I’ve always done,” Leavitt coach Kevin Leonard said. “I always try to switch things up a little bit. Nothing fancy — I just like to change the pace now and then. That’s all it is.”

Bond greeted Robertson with a double to deep left, and came home to tie the score when McLaggan reached second on an error. After Kaitlyn Sutter singled, Emma Robertson flied out to center, and McLaggan scooted home. But Leavitt appealed that McLaggan had left third too early, and the umpires agreed for a double play. The inning ended with Erskine leaving runners on second and third and still in a 3-3 tie.

“Absolutely, that was the right call,” Tripp said. “I didn’t want to call her back, because at that point, I’m going to cross my fingers and hope nobody saw it, because she’s already off the field, and there’s nothing we could do about it. The thing is, Taylor’s a great baserunner. But there’s not much you can do there.”

Abby Robertson did not allow another baserunner, setting down the last seven Erskine batters she faced. The Hornets got her the lead back in the sixth, when Olivia Gilbert made it to second on an error and scored when Green ripped a single up the middle. It was little consolation for the Eagles that both teams left seven runners on base, but it also showed Erskine could clearly play with one of the league’s top teams.

“I think we’ve been doing really good things,” Tripp said. “We’re doing all right. I think the girls know what they need to do to win, but it’s just about executing at this point.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo


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