KENTS HILL — The season seemed all but over for the Maranacook softball team.

After giving up four runs in the sixth inning, the Black Bears were three outs away from playoff elimination Thursday afternoon. And it didn’t help that Winthrop pitcher Layne Audet had already struck out 10 batters in through six innings.

But the Black Bears fought back with a four-run inning of their own in the seventh to beat the Ramblers, 8-6, in a Class C South quarterfinal game Thursday. The game was played at Kents Hill due to poor field conditions in Winthrop.

It was junior Carolina Bachelder who gave the Black Bears (14-3) the lead in the seventh. Kaylee Jones started the inning with a single and reached second after Evelyn St. Germain hit a grounder to Winthrop second baseman Moriah Hajduk, who was unable to put the force tag on Jones. Grace Dwyer followed with a base hit to center field to load the bases. Amanda Goucher then plated Jones on a fielder’s choice, and Brooke Stratton smacked a drive to right field far enough for a sacrifice fly that scored Dwyer to tie the game at 6-6.

Down 0-2 in the count, Bachelder rocketed an Audet pitch down the right field line, plating Goucher and Abygail Jacques for the 8-6 lead.

“Considering I had struck out the first two times, (the at-bat) was a little stressful,” Bachelder said. “As soon as I kept my eye on the ball, and I listened to both my coaches, it was a no-brainer, and I was able to hit the ball.”

It was an inning for the Black Bears that seemed almost miraculous, considering what happened in the sixth. Maranacook pitcher Natalie Costa — who had allowed two runs on one hit for the first five innings — battled a bout of wildness. She walked four batters (one intentionally), hit another, and tossed three wild pitches. That allowed the Ramblers (12-5) to score four runs and take a 6-4 lead.

But he Black Bears didn’t cave.

“Before the game even started, we talked to each other about positivity,” Bachelder said. “We all just need to stay positive, keep each other up, no matter what. We really did that throughout the game. We were able to pick ourselves up and stay positive throughout the whole game.”

Despite her battles in the sixth inning, Costa regrouped and pitched a clean seventh to clinch the game. In her seven innings of work, she allowed two hits.

No. 5 Maranacook will next play at No. 1 Madison in a regional semifinal Saturday. The teams did not meet during the regular season, but it was Madison that knocked Maranacook out in the quarterfinal round last season.

“This (win) is huge, this is confidence,” Maranacook coach Don Beckwith said. “Of course, we play Madison next, so we need all the confidence we can get.”

Winthrop’s offensive highlight came in the fourth inning, when Hanna Caprara launched a line drive into right field. With no fence at Kents Hill, it allowed Caprara to sprint around the bases for a two-run inside-the-park home run and a 2-0 lead.

Maranacook answered in the fifth inning in similar fashion, when Jacques launched a drive into right for a grand slam and a 4-2 lead for the Black Bears.

“It was almost like ‘You can have (the game). No, you can have it,'” Winthrop coach Chuck Gurney said. “Then (Maranacook) grabbed it at the end. That’s the worst we’ve been beat all year, two runs.”

The loss ends a run of four consexutive playoff appearances for Winthrop’s strong strong senior class.

“We brought them in as freshmen and threw them to the wolves,” Gurney said. “We knew they’d take a beating that year. Each year, they’ve made it exciting. It’s been one heck of a ride for me with them… There’s no kids I’d rather be coaching. That senior class is a very special group.”

With the exception of two innings, Audet showed dominance in spurts in her final game. She finished with 11 strikeouts, nine of which came in the first four innings.

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