FAIRFIELD — The future might already be here for the Maranacook softball team.

The Black Bears rode the big stick of sophomore first baseman Brooke Stratton and the effective pitching performance of classmate Natalie Costa to an 18-6 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference win at Lawrence on Monday for their third straight win. Following a shutout loss to Oceanside on opening day less than two weeks ago, Maranacook (3-1) has scored 48 runs in its three games since.

“It surprised me that they scored 18 runs, but I knew the middle of their lineup could hit,” said Lawrence coach Joey Marcoux, whose team dropped to 1-3. “I knew they had good team speed, were disciplined and would execute bunt situations and that kind of stuff. As far as, ‘Was I surprised?’ Maybe a little, but I expect them to be a pretty good team.”

Maranacook pitcher Natalie Costa throws during a game against Lawrence on Monday in Fairfield. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming

Stratton and junior Amanda Goucher form the teeth of the Maranacook lineup, and they were in midseason form despite playing on another chilly spring afternoon. Stratton went 4 for 5 with five RBIs and another four runs scored out of the three-hole, while Goucher went 3 for 4 with a double and two RBIs behind her. All nine spots in the Black Bear lineup either scored or drove in a run, including freshman catcher Grace Dwyer — who despite going 0 for 5 as the No. 9 hitter still collected three RBIs.

Maranacook scored six runs in the second inning to open a 9-1 lead, the big blow coming from Stratton in that inning. She doubled in a pair of runs with a rope to left field.

“Brooke should scare the hell out of people,” Maranacook coach Don Beckwith said. “She can hit the ball, and when she really gets one, she can hit it a long ways. Goucher can do that, too.”

“When I get up there, I just tell myself to make contact and not over-swing,” Stratton said. “It works. It’s all about making contact, getting on base, making them make plays and getting some runs.”

The Black Bears struck out only twice against Lawrence pitcher Paige Reynolds, who wasn’t helped by the defense behind her. Reynolds issued five walks and surrendered 15 hits — but with eight errors committed by the Bulldogs, it led to long innings and plenty of extra pitches required from Reynolds. In all, 11 of Maranacook’s 18 runs were unearned.

“We’re young and we have a couple kids playing out of position,” Marcoux said. “But there’s no excuse for dropping a ball that’s thrown right to you. It doesn’t matter what position you’re used to playing, you need to be able to catch the ball when it’s thrown to you. That’s the stuff that comes with immaturity and not being ready to play when the game started.”

Lawrence put four runs on the board in the fourth to pull to within 9-6, capitalizing on a bad inning from Costa. Two walks and a hit batter in the frame allowed Sarah Poli, Emily Hagerty and Taylor Wilkie to drive in runs.

But it was the only inning in which Costa really struggled, as she allowed the leadoff batter to reach base only in the fourth and seventh innings. She worked a scoreless final three innings, and after allowing the top four spots in the Lawrence lineup to go a combined 5 for 12 she held the bottom five slots to a 1 for 13 day — and her defense didn’t commit an error behind her.

“It’s not always about strikeouts. I know the defense has my back, so I can count on them to take it if I can’t get the out,” Costa said. “I think we’re only going to go up from here. We might have a young team, but we’re really strong.”

Maranacook put it out of reach with two runs in both the fifth and sixth innings and a five-spot in the seventh.

“If we don’t give up walks, we don’t make errors, we’re going to beat a lot of teams,” Beckwith said. “Our bats are going to help us.”


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