SKOWHEGAN — Four of the last five Class A North regional softball titles were won by Skowhegan. In the middle of the Indians’ dominance is a title for Messalonskee, in 2015. These teams have been the gold standard in Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A softball for a while now, and when their first meeting of the season was postponed twice, as the teams sat in the top two spots in the regional Heal point standings, it ratcheted up the excitement when the game was finally played Saturday afternoon.

“It’s always a good game. We know we’ll have to battle and come to play and it’s always going to be close. It’s a rivalry we enjoy,” Skowhegan pitcher Ashley Alward said.

Skowhegan scored one run in the bottom of the third inning, and added an insurance run in the fourth. Alward pitched out of one big jam and held the Eagles at bay for a 2-0 Skowhegan win.

Skowhegan, now 6-0, leapt over Messalonskee (5-2) for the top spot in the region.

“I think there was some excitement. They know Messalonskee’s got a good, solid club,” Skowhegan coach Lee Johnson said of his team. “We knew it would be a test for us, to see where we are at this point. I think they rose to the occasion and came ready to play.”

Alyssa Everett led off the bottom of the third inning with a walk, and went to third base on a Sydney Ames single before scoring on a Sydney Reed fielder’s choice for a 1-0 lead. In the fourth inning, Skowhegan pushed the lead to 2-0 when Annie Cooke scored on Wylie Bedard’s RBI single.

That was enough support for Alward, who was tough throughout and at times unhittable. The senior allowed five hits and no walks while striking out 12.

“I thought (Alward) threw well. I thought she was locked in pretty good. They definitely battled at the plate. They fouled a lot of pitches off. Sometimes as a pitcher, that can be tough as well,” Johnson said. “She showed the grit and determination of a senior and just kept battling the whole time, and winning the battles.”

Messalonskee had two strong chances to push across a run, but was stopped each time. In the second inning, the Eagles loaded the bases with one out. Mackenzie Charest hit a sharp grounder right to Bedard at shortstop, who made a strong throw to Reed at the plate to force the lead runner. Alward then got a strikeout to end the inning.

“Obviously, I wasn’t happy with how we started the inning, but I knew my defense would have my back no matter what and we’d get the outs we needed to get out of the jam,” Alward said.

In the fourth inning, Messalonskee’s Leah Smith led off with a double to center field, but Alward then struck out the side the leave Smith stranded at second base.

“Don’t put anything on one inning, at all. That’s a full seven inning game,” Messalonskee coach Samantha Moore said. “I definitely think we could have done a lot of hitting. We saw Waterville (Friday), so it kind of threw us off to come face this speed. She’s definitely hittable. I think my girls showed that. I’ve got to give her credit though, to get those three strikeouts in a row (in the fourth inning).”

Smith had three of Messalonskee’s five hits. Bedard had a pair of hits for Skowhegan, including a triple in the second inning. Messalonskee pitcher Danielle Hall had a strong game, allowing six hits and three walks with four strikeouts. These rivals will meet again May 29 at Messalonskee in the regular-season finale.

“We’ll see them again. We’ll see them again Senior Day,” Moore said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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