GARDINER — The Gardiner softball team is banking on experience Tuesday night as it makes its third straight appearance in the Eastern Maine Class B championship game.

The Tigers earned that right Saturday with a convincing 7-0 win against third-seeded Oceanside backed by the pitching of senior Kristal Smith and the bat of sophomore Lauren Chadwick.

Top-seeded Gardiner (18-0) will face No. 3 Hermon at 7 p.m. in Brewer. Oceanside finishes at 15-4.

Smith allowed a pair of bloop hits to left field, walked one and struck out eight. She kept an aggressive Oceanside lineup off balance with an overpowering fastball and an effective changeup. The teams didn’t meet in the regular season, but Oceanside coach Rusty Worcester has seen his share of the Gardiner lineup in the past couple of seasons.

“We’ve had some good battles over the years,” Worcester said. “She’s an outstanding pitcher. With a pitcher like Smith, she’s going to be around the plate so there’s no sense looking for a walk.”

Smith alternated starts with 2014 graduate Brittany Rollins the past couple of seasons and is looking forward to a third appearance in the regional title game.


“We have big plans,” Smith said. “We’ve been there and we know what to expect. Hopefully, the third time is a charm.”

Chadwick went 4-for-4 at the plate, including a solo home run into a brisk wind over the fence in left center to stake the Tigers to a 1-0 lead in the third inning. She singled in a run in the fifth to make it 2-0 with two outs and first base open. Worcester elected to pitch to Chadwick but the plan was not to give her anything good to hit.

“That was quite a game for her today,” Gardiner coach Don Brochu said. “She was hitting missles.”

Chadwick also stole a pair of bases — the Tigers had four in all — in line with the team’s aggressive philosophy.

“They’re all experienced ball players and they take advantage of what they see,” Brochu said.

Gardiner broke the game open in the bottom of the sixth inning with five runs, highlighted by Lilly Chepke’s two-run blast over the fence in left, the first of her career.


“I was just basically waiting for a strike and I sat on it,” Chepke said.

Oceanside senior Paige Tyler had pitched well to that point but her control wavered in the sixth when she walked three. A wild pitch and Morgan Carver’s two-run bloop single over a drawn-in infield accounted for the other three runs.

Smith didn’t run into any serious trouble until the fifth inning. Tyler singled to left in the third inning but was thrown out by Carver on an attempted steal of second to end the threat, In the fifth, Kalyn Grover blooped a singled to left and was bunted to second. Smith struck out Casey Pike before issuing her only walk of the game to Madelyn Young. She ended the threat by striking out Tyler on a high fastball.

“This year we really worked hard as a team,” Chadwick said. “We tried to win every game and we did.”

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