Skowhegan’s Sydney Ames slides into third base safely as Oxford Hills’ Kaity Montelong attempts to apply the tag early in Friday’s game. Brewster Burns photo

NORWAY — Skowhegan didn’t get a lot of hits off of Oxford Hills pitcher Lauren Merrill, but it got enough in a matchup of the final two unbeaten softball teams in Class A North.

Skowhegan’s three-run fifth was the difference in a 3-2 win Friday at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School.

“I think we just kind of made a little bit of adjustments as far as getting used to what (Merrill) was doing,” Skowhegan coach Lee Johnson said. “But she’s just such a good pitcher, we were fortunate we got some timely hits when we needed them.”

Through the first 14 batters, only Sydney Ames was able to find success against Merrill, but doubles in each of her first two at-bats were wasted.

Mariah Whittemore then led off the fifth with a single and later scored when Amber Merry singled her home to tie the game 1-1. A fielder’s choice kept the rally going, then Ames doubled again to put Skowhegan (12-0) ahead. Jaycie Christopher singled two batters later to make it 3-1.

Merrill didn’t allow another hit the rest of the way, and finished giving up only six with one walk and two strikeouts.

Ames was even more stingy allowing hits, with the Vikings (11-1) compiling just four against her and never more than one in an inning.

The Vikings scored their first run in the second when No. 9 hitter Bella DeVivo doubled with two outs to score Ashley Childs, who had reached on an error.

“Only the second inning, when we got the timely hit from Bella, was probably the only time that we had a timely hit,” Oxford Hills coach Cindy Goddard said.

Oxford Hills stranded runners on second and third in the first inning, and then first and second in the fourth — a pickoff at third base adding to the missed opportunity.

“Base running mistakes or giving up outs are very costly,” Goddard said. “So you can’t give Skowhegan anything extra, and we gave them a couple extra. So that hurts.”

The Vikings made it interesting in the bottom of the seventh. Kiara McLeod led off and walked, moved to second on Kaityln Montelongo’s sacrifice bunt, then eventually scored on a delayed double steal after Brooke Carson singled with two outs. Merry made a diving catch in right field the at-bat before Carson’s single, and Whittemore caught a liner at third to end the game.

“Our defense has been pretty solid,” Johnson said. “Made some pretty key plays in situations you don’t normally see, in the rundowns. So I think that was huge.”

Goddard said she liked that her team showed fight at the end, similar to how Johnson said his team “kept fighting” in the middle innings after Merrill stymied hitters early.

Goddard said she thinks the two teams will face each other at least one more time, in the KVAC championship game, and maybe again in the playoffs. She admitted that there was “big hype” going into Friday’s matchup, but any jitters should be gone in a rematch.

“It’s fun,” Goddard said. “I mean, I don’t like the outcome, but I’ll take these games any day of the week.”

Oxford Hills’ Kiara McLeod slides into home plate safely to make it a one-run ballgame with Skowhegan in the seventh inning Friday. Brewster Burns photo

Skowhegan’s Amber Merry almost gets caught off first base as Oxford Hills second baseman Olivia Gallan tries catch the ball during Friday’s game. Brewster Burns photo

Oxford Hills’ Kori Kahkonen gets caught between first and second base as Skowhegan second baseman Emma Duffy prepares to catch the ball and apply the tag Friday. Brewster Burns photo

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