WINTHROP — Layne Audet got just the start from her offense that she needed, but her early dominance in the circle soon turned into no room for error against rival Monmouth.

Yet when she needed outs the most, Audet put the game on her shoulders — most notably her right pitching shoulder — and made sure the Ramblers escaped with a 4-3 victory over the Mustangs in a Mountain Valley Conference softball game Monday.

Audet made quick work of the Mustangs (3-3) in the first inning, setting them down 1-2-3. She did the same in the second and third innings, but before that the Ramblers (2-3) offense gave her some run support.

Winthrop jumped on Monmouth pitcher Emily Chasse in a four-run first inning, starting with a lead-off single by Kate Perkins back up the middle. Perkins moved all the way to third on a Moriah Hajduk sacrifice bunt and scored on Audet’s RBI comebacker single. A bloop single by Hanna Caprara and an intentional walk to Bry Baxter loaded the bases, and an error allowed two more runs to score. Olivia Simonson drove in the final run of the frame with a third single up the middle against Chasse.

“I told the kids Emily’s the type of pitcher that if you’re going to get to her you need to get to her early, because once she gets into her groove, Em’s one of the best pitchers in the conference,” Winthrop coach Chuck Gurney said. “And we did. We got on her early in the first inning, and then we just hung on for dear life to hopefully hang on to finish it out.”

That looked like more than enough of a cushion for Audet, who retired the first 10 Monmouth batters. Then Emily Kaplan ended the no-hit bid with a bunt single down the third-base line in the fourth inning.

“I was trying to throw strikes,” Audet said. “I just kept working hard, tried to hit my spots, and it worked out.”

Audet made that hit moot, but the Mustangs got to her again in the fifth. Abby Ferland led off a with a bouncing single and moved to second on Deanna Bauer’s sacrifice bunt. McKenzie Boucher’s double to deep center drove in Ferland and got the Mustangs on the board.

“We laid down some bunts to get some contact going, get some confidence going,” Monmouth co-coach Dave Kaplan said. “And these kids are pretty good at picking up that pitcher the second time around, too. They’ve done a good job with that.”

An error aided the Mustangs to start the sixth. A fielder’s choice got the lead runner, but Kaplan reached, then stole both second and third before Chasse walked and moved to second on a defensive indifference. Haylee Langlois drove in one run with a sacrifice groundout, and Ferland singled in another to draw Monmouth within one.

“Once we got our first run, we got more up in energy-wise,” Chasse said. “And then we kept hitting and getting more runs, and we were hoping it was going to happen. We thought it was.”

Audet made sure that was all the Mustangs were going to get. Facing the bottom of the order, she struck out the side to end the game.

“I was like, ‘I need to get this strike, then this strike, this strike, this strike,’ just trying to hit each strike at a time,” Audet said. “And then those end up being strikeouts, which is great, and I knew that my defense would be there even if they did hit it.”

“We couldn’t get to the top of the order,” Kaplan said. “That’s what I was trying to do, just get back to the top of the order, have a chance.”

Audet finished with eight strikeouts to just one walk and four hits.

Chasse gave up six hits, with just two of those coming after the first inning. She struck out two and walked one.

“Em pitched a great game, catcher did a great job behind the plate — Abby Ferland — and we battled. We just stayed and battled and battled, and we had every chance to win that game,” Kaplan said.

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