OAKLAND — If the Lawrence High School softball team doesn’t earn a regular-season split against Messalonskee, then Lilly Herrin likely doesn’t throw a three-hitter with 11 strikeouts and left fielder Lauren Lambert likely doesn’t club a three-run home run in the seventh inning to lead the 10th-seeded Bulldogs to a 6-2 win over No. 7 Messalonskee in a Class A North preliminary round game Tuesday at Veterans Field.

At least, that’s the way Lawrence head coach Joey Marcoux sees it.

“If we had lost to them that second time that we played them, I think it would have been a different story today,” said Marcoux, whose team will travel to Edward Little for a regional quarterfinal game Wednesday afternoon. “Mentally, these girls knew that they could win. So much of sports is mental and they had that confidence that they had the ability to win, they just had to go out and play.”

Herrin was thoroughly dominant Tuesday. She opened the day by setting down nine of the first 10 Eagles, and she wrapped things up by retiring 10 of the last 11 she faced to close out the game.

The first two Eagles of the fourth inning reached base via errors and eventually scored to cut into what at the time was a 3-0 Lawrence lead, but Herrin made sure that Messalonskee (9-8) would never get any closer.

“I think my spots were a little different (in the fourth),” Herrin said. “We mostly drove them inside, but I threw some more outside and they were connecting. That next inning, I went back to what we were doing at the beginning of the game.”

On the other side, Messalonskee senior Alyssa Smith was effective, particularly in preventing a big inning. Molly Folsom and Gretta Knowlton drove in runs as part of a three-run second inning for Lawrence, which began at the bottom of the order, but Smith limited any damage that threatened to come in later innings.

In the fourth, Lawrence put its Nos. 8 and 9 hitters on base to start the frame, eventually loading the bases with one out. But Smith got a weakly hit ground ball that first baseman Alyssa Genness gobbled up to cut down a would-be run at home plate for the second out, and center fielder McKenna Brodeur made a fantastic sliding catch on Sammy Knox’s sinking line drive to end the inning.

In the sixth, Haley Holt doubled to lead things off and Folsom singled to center just two pitches later. Brodeur quickly fielded it and fired to Smith in the circle, who in turn spun around with the relay and fired a perfect strike to the plate to gun Holt down.

Lawrence finally gave Herrin a cushion to work with in the seventh. A one-out walk to Knox brought Messalonskee coach Samantha Moore out of the dugout, and she handed the ball over to freshman Danielle Hall to try and pitch out of the jam.

After Herrin was hit with a pitch in the dirt, Lambert swung at the first offering she saw from Hall and sent it sailing over the wall in left — even as Messalonskee left fielder Makenzie Charest went tumbling over the fence in an effort to chase it down. Lambert felt like she was due, and having seen Hall in the Bulldogs’ 10-6 win in the second regular-season meeting between the two teams made a difference.

“I had seen (Hall) before,” said Lambert, who has two homers this season and went 2 for 4 Tuesday with a single and three RBIs. “She was a little faster (than Smith), but once she finds her strike zone she just keeps pitching strike after strike. She had pitched a couple to Lilly, so I knew she would be ready to fire them in. I was ready for it.”

“I really wanted to give the meat of their lineup someone different to try and throw them off-balance a little bit,” Moore said of her decision to go to Hall in the seventh. “That home run didn’t really do that much to change the result. With the same girls in the lineup (in the bottom of the seventh) we couldn’t get that one run.”

The Eagles went quietly in the seventh against Herrin, whose fastball and selective use of her offspeed stuff had Messalonskee frustrated all afternoon.

The bottom four in the Messalonskee order went a combined 0 for 10 with six strikeouts against Herrin.

“I’m so proud of (Herrin),” Lambert said. “Every game, she’s been so solid for us. She’s pitched almost every single inning of every game this season, and I’m happy that I could give back to her in a way.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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