RICHMOND — Any coach will tell you that it’s tough to beat a team three times in a season. Add to the mix a competitive rivalry between a pair of Class D softball teams, you have a recipe for a good game to unfold.

The Buckfield and Richmond softball teams did not disappoint, with the Bucks receiving timely hitting, using a three-run third to take the lead and down the Bobcats, 6-2, in an East-West Conference game Wednesday.

It was so important to come out and grab this win,” Buckfield coach Sandy Albert said after losing to Valley (15-14) a day earlier. “It is tough to come back-to-back and play a team like Richmond after a tough day like yesterday. RichmondBuckfield rivalry has always been this. To come back and play like they did, I am proud of them to come and dig in and be able to get it done.

Buckfield’s Hannah Shields connects on a seventh-inning double during Wednesday’s East-West softball game in Richmond. The Bucks beat the Bobcats, 6-2. Times Record photo by Eric Maxim

Buckfield finished the regular season 13-2 and will enter the D South playoffs as the No. 2 seed, receiving a bye to the semifinals.

Richmond fell to 10-4 and will host St. Dominic on Friday in its regular season finale. The Bobcats sit No. 3 in D South.  

We didn’t hit the ball well today. We had to play small ball today to get the runs we did and make them make the plays,” Richmond coach Tony Martin said. “We need to hit against this team, especially when you throw the ball around, because they will take advantage of it.

Richmond struck first with an unearned run in the second. Ashley Brown led off the frame with a bunt single and reached third on a few sacrifice plays. A two-out throwing error to first plated Brown.

The Bucks struck back in the top half of the third. Cassidy Lowell led off the frame with the first of her three singles. Siana Jacobs walked and Lowell came around to score on an RBI single by Maggie Bragg to tie the game. Martin intentionally walked Shields to load the bases, but a single by McKenna Ridlon scored Jacobs for the lead. Bragg plated the third run of the inning on a wild pitch. Richmond pitcher Bryanne Lancaster fanned the next two hitters to strand a pair of runners.

We knew we had to forget about yesterday and bring all we’ve got because we knew (Richmond) would do the same so we had to come right back at them today,” Buckfield catcher Shields said.

After Buckfield added a run in the fourth, Richmond put a couple of runners on in the bottom half after two outs. But Leah Wescott inadvertently touched her perfectly placed bunt while running down the first base line to end the inning.

In the fifth, Richmond’s lead-off hitter, Nicole Tribbet, hit the first pitch from Cara Merrill straight up the middle to open the frame. Two pitches later, Lancaster also singled, moving Tribbet to third. Caitlin Kendrick hit a sacrifice fly to score Richmond’s second run. Merrill induced a fly out and Shields ended the inning when she hopped out from behind the plate and caught a pop up, while tip toeing along the out-of-play line near the first-base dugout.

Her play helps motivate her team, she’s amazing,” Albert said of ShieldsI’d put her up against any other catcher in the state.

Shields recorded five put outs and an assist from behind the plate.

She’s a good kid, number one catcher for sure,” Martin said about the Bucks backstop. “She’s aggressive and when she’s at the plate, the pitcher has to be on her toes.

That was evident in the seventh, when Shields hit a line drive past the left fielder that rolled under the fence and later came around to score on an RBI double by Ridlon to extend the Bucks lead to 6-2.

The top of the order gets it done and today was no different,” the Bucks coach said. “Our kids came to play today, it was good softball.

Richmond did not score again, stranding three runners over the final two innings, leaving a total of nine over seven.

We were right on the ball a little too early too much,” Martin saidWe didn’t get that solid hit we needed.

They always bring good competition. I’m kind of glad we’ve got to play them three times as it helps us get prepared to play the best teams,” Kendrick added.

For Buckfield, Albert credits her seniors and an influx of underclassmen with bouncing back on Wednesday after the Valley loss.

We’re lucky to have our seniors like Hannah, Julia and Maggie in our lineup,” Albert said. “But we have a bunch of (underclassmen) out on the field and they stepped it up today.”

Buckfield’s Hannah Shields camps out under a pop-up during Wednesday’s East-West softball game in Richmond. The Bucks beat the Bobcats, 6-2. Times Record photo by Eric Maxim

Richmond will put the loss behind it and move forward as it prepares for postseason play. Martin said not all was lost Wednesday, as he was able to see his junior pitcher throw a quality game against a good team. 

I have confidence in her as she’s around the plate. She’s right there, good change up and good curveball,” Martin said of Lancaster, who surrendered nine hits, while striking out 10 hitters and walking four. “I’ve got to get her ready for the playoffs in case we need her (behind Kendrick). She’s hadn’t thrown lately so I wanted to get her out there against this team and get her confidence there.

We’ll sharpen up a little bit and get ready for the playoffs.”


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