The Messalonskee softball team is right in the middle of the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A North race. And the Eagles have won some pretty dramatic games to get there.

Cardiac contests and late-game swings are nothing new for Messalonskee, which entered Thursday with a 7-2 record. Consider the 4-2 win over Bangor, in which the Eagles broke a 2-2 tie with two runs in the top of the seventh. Or the 7-6 victory over Edward Little, where Messalonskee trailed 4-1 after three innings and 5-3 after four, but scored one in the fifth, two in the sixth and one in the seventh to take the game.

Even one of the Eagles’ wins that didn’t feature a completed comeback — a 7-5 victory over Cony — still nearly involved one from the opponent, as the Rams scored four in the fifth to put drama into a 6-1 game. There’s been tension throughout, but coach Samantha Moore knows that can also be the measure of a good team.

“I think it shows them that they’re able to do it, and they’re able to get through hard situations together,” she said. “(We’re) trying to keep this mentality that nobody does it alone. It’s not about that one big hit, it’s about someone getting a single to get on, so your teammates can do the rest.”

Moore said a team’s ability to win gut-check games is always an unknown until it gets tested.

“There have definitely been some times where I don’t know if they’re going to set that spark, and be able to push through and rally though it,” she said. “I know we have it talent-wise.”

Messalonskee’s battery has played a key role in the team’s hot start and dramatic flair. Pitcher Danielle Hall has been excellent, striking out 57 in 39 innings and pitching to a 1.64 ERA, and catcher Brooke Martin has done well both behind the plate and at it, driving in the go-ahead runs in both the Bangor and Edward Little games.

“They’ve been a really strong battery for our team. … I think both of them have been very integral in both sides, both defense and offense,” Moore said. “They keep a very open conversation between the two of them, and they both relay back to me what’s working, what’s not working, what are we comfortable throwing today.”

• • •

For Oak Hill, this is the money stretch coming up.

The Raiders are 6-0, and have been dominant in building that record. But the real test is ahead as Oak Hill prepares to face the muscle of the Mountain Valley Conference. Starting Monday, the Raiders will face Madison, followed by Hall-Dale and Monmouth before the week is up, and then Winthrop next Tuesday before a Friday rematch at Madison.

Those are winning teams making up five of Oak Hill’s seven games in that stretch, with a combined record (entering Thursday) of 29-3. Conference standing will be up for grabs, and coach Allyson Collins said she’s gone over the importance of the two weeks with her team.

“We get ready for the immediate game coming up, but we’re always looking ahead,” she said. “You have to kind of plan ahead knowing your opponents that are coming, especially when you have opponents that you know are going to be extremely challenging.”

Oak Hill’s opposition so far has gone a combined 10-19, but Collins said her team was playing well in that stretch as well too. Eight players are batting over .300, four (Abby Nadeau, Mahala Smith, Molly Flaherty and Sadie Waterman) are batting over .400 and the team has scored 92 runs in the six games.

“That’s what I was looking for, building confidence going into a tougher part of the season,” Collins said. “The next two weeks are really going to be telling for us, and how the season’s going to end.”

• • •

Monmouth got a win with significant MVC ramifications Monday, rallying to beat Winthrop 7-6 in walk-off fashion.

“(Those are) huge Heal points, obviously. They’re going to win a lot of games,” coach Dave Kaplan said. “That’s a good team. They’ve probably got the hardest thrower in the league right now in (Layne) Audet, so it was really hard. And also coming back. Giving up the lead, and then coming back.”

Monmouth led most of the way until Winthrop took a 6-5 lead in the top of the seventh. The Mustangs rallied with a pair of two-out runs in the bottom half, displaying again an ability to bounce back they showed earlier in an 11-10, 10-inning win against Spruce Mountain, during which they let an 8-0 lead get away.

“The gut check is really a good growing experience,” Kaplan said. “Coming back from adversity, it’s the mark of a young team with good senior leadership.”

The seniors are Abby Ferland, Mariah Herr, Emily Kaplan and Haylee Langlois, and Coach Kaplan said they’ve been vital in keeping the 5-1 Mustangs on track.

“They really are the backbone,” he said. “They have taken ahold of this team really well.”

• • •

Here are some key games in the week ahead (records after Wednesday’s action):

• Skowhegan visits Oxford Hills at 4 p.m. Friday in a clash between the KVAC A’s top two teams. Entering Thursday, both Skowhegan (8-0) and Oxford Hills (9-0) were undefeated.

• Gardiner (6-2) hosts Morse (5-3) Wednesday at 4 p.m. in a matchup of winning Class B teams.

• Oak Hill (6-0) hosts Madison (8-0) Monday, visits Hall-Dale (5-1) Wednesday, then hosts Monmouth (5-1) Friday in a trio of MVC games that should sway the conference race.

• Cony (3-4) visits Erskine (6-3) Friday at 4 p.m. The Rams will try to climb back up in the A North race, while the Eagles — who won five games last year — will look to add another big win to their turnaround season.

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