MONMOUTH — Oak Hill sophomore Sadie Waterman got off to a shaky start in her starting pitching debut Monday against Monmouth Academy. But she finished strong, retiring the last 13 she faced.

Her teammates rewarded her with some late runs, including two in the top of the seventh inning, to power the Raiders to a 5-4 victory in the season opener for both teams.

The Mustangs return the bulk of their lineup from a year ago and are expected to be among the top tier of teams in the Mountain Valley Conference while Oak Hill sustained some key graduation losses.

“We have young players but they fit in really well,” said Oak Hill sophomore Molly Flaherty, who delivered a two-run single in the top of the seventh inning.

Monmouth starter Emily Chasse loaded the bases in the top of the seventh. With two out she pitched around Oak Hill senior Emma Hlister, who drew her third walk of the game, to get to Flaherty. The same strategy worked in the fifth inning when Flaherty flew out to center to leave the bases loaded. This time she was ready, taking the first pitch to the opposite field down the third base line.

“I just kind of had to hit it because the first pitch she was throwing was a fastball every time,” she said. “It was an outside pitch so I just kind of drove it up the third base line.”

The Mustangs scored three times in the first inning off Waterman, who saw a little time in relief a year ago. They collected three of their four hits in the game in the first, capping it with a two-run single from junior Tia Day.

“I was just a little nervous but I have a solid team behind me,” Waterman said. “I think that helped me recover.”

Waterman gave up a run in the third as Day knocked in another teammate with a base hit. But that was it for the Mustangs, who didn’t have another base runner the rest of the way.

“We kind of flattened out the second half of the game,” Monmouth coach Dave Kaplan said. “The bats especially.”

The Raiders picked up a run in the second when Abby Nadeau fanned but reached on a wild pitch. She scored on a base hit from sophomore Mahala Smith.

Trailing 4-1, the Raiders got a couple of runs back in the fifth after Julia Ahlberg and Waterman picked up one-out singles. They moved up on a passed and scored when Charlotte Waterman’s bunt was thrown away at first base. Kaplan questioned the umpires to no avail that Waterman was on the inside of the baseline and caused the ball to bounce off her.

“She was totally on the top of the line (obstructing) a throwing lane,” Kaplan said. “I don’t know what they were thinking but it wasn’t that call that cost us the game.”

Chasse breezed through the sixth and got the first out in the seventh before issuing a walk to Charlotte Waterman. Kiera Young followed with a base and, after a strikeout, Hlister walked to set the stage for Flaherty’s heroics.

“I knew coming in that Monmouth was going to be extremely tough this season,” Oak Hill coach Allyson Collins said. “They have excellent hitters and an excellent defense so they’re an all-around good team. You know they’re going to bring you (Heal) points throughout the entire season so this is one we could not let go of.”