GARDINER — The Gardiner softball team is always looking for ways to put pressure on its opponents, and the Tigers wasted little time in doing so Thursday against Presque Isle.

Starting pitcher Kristal Smith set the Wildcats down in order in the top of the first inning, and five pitches into the bottom half of the first, Bri Brochu scored as the Tigers went on to pull away for an 8-1 win in an Eastern Class B quarterfinal contest.

“Our game plan is to jump out early,” Gardiner coach Don Brochu said. “If you can get out early, it adds that little extra pressure for the other team.”

Smith overwhelmed Presque Isle early on as she was perfect through the first three innings with seven strikeouts and carried a no-hitter into the sixth before Jordi Legasse broke it up with a bloop single to right field with one out in the inning. Smith finished with 14 strikeouts and surrendered an unearned run on two hits, three walks and a hit batter.

“I love having her in the circle,” Bri Brochu said. “She picks us all up and keeps us on top.”

Bri Brochu made sure the Tigers’ starter would have a lead to pitch with for nearly the game’s entirety, as the speedy second baseman opened the bottom of the first by drawing a lead-off walk and stealing second. The throw got past both the Wildcats’ shortstop and center fielder, which allowed Brochu to score on the play.

“When I get on, I take off, usually pretty soon,” Bri Brochu said. “I did my pop slide, saw the ball go by and I just ran home.”

Brochu doubled Gardiner’s advantage in the bottom half of the next inning, as her two-out double scored Logan Granholm, who had reached base initially on an error. Lauren Chadwick led off the bottom of the third with a single and later scored on a throwing error to make it 3-0, yet it was not until the bottom of the fifth that the Tigers really separated themselves.

Lilly Chepke led off the inning with a single, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a single from Chadwick. The Tigers’ shortstop was not on the bases for long, though, as Smith laced the first pitch she saw from Presque Isle starter Kelsey Gilson into the gap in left-center field for a double.

Smith scored five batters later on a single from Morgan Carver, while Marlaina Stickney — who was pinch running for Mikayla Shaw after she reached on an error earlier in the inning — came home on a passed ball to round out the scoring for the inning and give Gardiner a commanding 7-0 advantage.

“We executed well (Thursday) with our bunts and our hits,” Bri Brochu said. “We got our timely hits when we needed them, scored our runs when we needed them and I thought we played well overall.”

Brochu finished 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, Chadwick was 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored and Smith had two hits and two RBIs. Gardiner also took advantage of eight Presque Isle errors to score five unearned runs.

“That’s been our forte all year. We stay aggressive running,” Coach Brochu said. “If you give us an inch, we’re taking two.”

Gardiner will next host Oceanside — who topped John Bapst 4-2 Thursday — on Saturday in the Eastern B semifinals.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

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Twitter: @Evan_Crawley