SOUTH CHINA — After surrendering hits to two of the first three Erskine Academy batters in the bottom of the first inning, Gardiner Area High School pitcher Jill Bisson took a deep breath.

“My mindset at that point was, I can’t get ahead of myself. I’ve just got to do what I came here to do. I’ve just got to do my job,” Bisson said.

A grounder back to the mound allowed Bisson to throw out a runner at the plate for the second out, and a grounder to third base got the Tigers out of the inning unscathed. From there, Bisson settled down and benefitted from her team’s  opportunistic offense, taking a 7-0 victory. Gardiner improved to 2-1, while Erskine fell to 2-2.

“The first inning is always hard for us, I think. We’re just getting in the groove of the game. Coach talks to us a little bit, and we understand. We lock it in,” Bisson said.

Over the final six innings, Bisson allowed just three base runners. There was a one-out single by Kayla Hodgkins in the fourth inning, a two-out single by MaKenzie Strout in the sixth, and Emma Fortin was thrown out at second trying to stretch a single into a double to end the game. Bisson struck out five while walking none, and said her fastball and curve were her best pitches throughout.

“I know she had some movement on her ball. I could see it as it was going in. But really, we were just kind of under it,” Erskine (2-2) coach Holly Tripp said.

Bisson benefited from strong Gardiner defense. Shortstop Maddie Farnham made a number of strong throws to first, and left fielder Kylie Sirois robbed Lydia Boucher of a hit with a sliding catch in the third inning.

“It makes my job so much easier. You don’t have to worry so much, knowing I have such a strong defense behind me. It lets me focus on pitching instead of doing everything,” Bisson said.

While Erskine pitcher Hodgkins struck out one and also did not issue a walk, the Eagles committed four errors over the second, third and fourth innings, in which the Tigers scored all their runs. In the third inning, Jaz Clary’s second double of the game drove in a run for a 3-0 Gardiner lead. An RBI single from Haley Brann in the fourth pushed the Tigers lead to 7-0.

Tripp noted Wednesday’s game was Erskine’s first at home, and the first time the Eagles had been on their field.

“Once we get a few more practices under our belt we’ll be good. I thought we made some great plays, but it all collapsed for an inning or two. Hopefully, it’s not characteristic,” Tripp said.

Farnham had two bunt singles and scored a pair of runs for Gardiner. Strout had two of Erskine’s five hits.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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