Skowhegan’s Emma Duffy, left, celebrates with teammate Alyssa Everett (11) in a game against Messalonskee on Thursday in Skowhegan. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

SKOWHEGAN — All afternoon long, the Skowhegan softball team had threatened. And all afternoon long, Messalonskee pitcher Danielle Hall had made the pitches she needed to to escape each jam, one after another.

Threatening again, and this time with the game on the line, Skowhegan finally broke through.

Annie Cooke delivered a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the sixth, leading Skowhegan to a 4-3 victory over Messalonskee and wrapping up an undefeated regular season for the second year in a row.

“It’s two good teams. We know that they’re a solid team, good pitching, good hitters. They’ve got a tough lineup,” coach Lee Johnson said. “We just found a way to get timely hits when we needed some towards the end. That’s really what the game was about, finding those timely hits.”

In improving to 16-0, Skowhegan got five strikeouts from pitcher Sydney Ames. The senior also collected three hits and two RBIs and scored the winning run on Cooke’s single.

“It definitely helps with gaining confidence, especially when playoffs are right around the corner,” Ames said. “I think even ending an undefeated season also helps with that, because none of us really expected it to happen.”

Messalonskee, which got 12 strikeouts as well as two doubles and two runs from Hall, fell to 11-5. It was also a frustrating case of deja vu for the Eagles, who gave up a 1-0 seventh-inning lead in a 4-1 loss to Skowhegan in April.

“It was a hell of a game, either way,” coach Samantha Moore said. “Win, loss, it’s not a game to be upset about. My girls played well, they were up the whole time. I hope we see them again.”

Skowhegan put runners in scoring position in the first, second, fourth and fifth innings, but aside from a two-run double by Ames in the second kept seeing the Eagles snuff out the threats. The missed chances seemed to prove costly first when Messalonskee scored twice in the fourth, and then when the Eagles went ahead 3-2 in the sixth on Hall’s two-out double and Ava Ardito’s RBI single.

Messalonskee’s Danielle Hall, left, slides safely across home plate in a game against Skowhegan on Thursday in Skowhegan. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

Skowhegan rallied back in the bottom half, starting when No. 9 hitter Emma Duffy doubled to deep center field. Ames followed with her third hit, a single up the middle, and with runners at the corners there was a sense of momentum growing on the Skowhegan side — as well as a hope for this time to be different.

“I’m just hoping somebody’s going to come through,” Johnson said. “(Hall) struck out a bunch of us today.”

And Hall continued, fanning the next two batters to move within an out of yet another escape. Up came Cooke, who was hitless in three at-bats, one being a strikeout with a runner on second in the first inning.

“You always have a little bit of nerves,” Cooke said, “but you can’t let the nerves get to you. You just have to know it’ll work out how it’s supposed to work out.”

Cooke came through, hitting the first pitch for a clean single to right that scored both Duffy and Ames for the tying and go-ahead runs. In the seventh, Ames retired the Eagles in order to wrap up the win.

“It was nice to see Annie make the adjustment she needed to,” Johnson said. “And Emma leading us off was huge. … Right when we needed it, those kids came through.”

Moore had praise for her pitcher, who was consistently at her best when the margin of error was at its smallest.

“She and I have been working very hard on our communication this year and keeping that open dialogue and staying on the same page,” Moore said. “That’s really helped us throughout the whole season.”

Skowhegan went in front 2-0 in the second when Mariah Whittemore led off with a walk and Alyssa Everett (two hits) followed with a single to left. Hall got a strikeout and a fielder’s choice, but Ames dropped a double into shallow left-center field to score both for a 2-0 lead.

Messalonskee pulled even in the fourth. Leah Smith singled and Hall hit a double to deep left, making it 2-1, and Ardito (two hits) followed with a single to center. The throw to third was wild, allowing Hall to make it in and make it 2-2.

Messalonskee’s two-out rally in the sixth gave it its first lead, but Skowhegan didn’t wait to respond.

“The biggest thing with this game is that we’ve been kind of in a slump,” Moore said. “But I think this is going to give us momentum into playoffs.”


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