PARIS — Oxford Hills winning pitcher Lauren Merrill baffled Bangor batters and the Vikings roamed the base paths with impunity in a Class A South softball semifinal on a warm and breezy Saturday afternoon.

It was a short stay anytime the No. 2 Vikings (17-1) got on base and Merrill had no problem throwing a two-hit, 10-0 shutout against the No. 3 Rams.

Merrill, a junior, struck out six batters, didn’t walk a soul and pried herself loose from a couple of jams thanks to the Vikes’ defense, which made only one error.

“Before, I was a little nervous because I had to go take a break because I wasn’t prepared as I would have liked to have been,” Merrill said. “But I took a little break, then me and Ashley (Childs), my catcher, we went back into the bullpen and re-warmed up again and that really helped as well.

“To get me prepared for the game,” she added, “my team did a really good job of staying upbeat and that really helps me out, when they are focused and ready to play, because it gives me more confidence in my defense.”

Oxford Hills didn’t waste a moment, scoring a pair of runs in the first inning. Second baseman Olivia Gallan got on with a walk, stole second base and arrived at home on shortstop Madison Day’s RBI double. Day (two hits) moved to third base on a wild pitch and scored when Merrill grounded out.

“I think being at home and I think scoring early, with two runs early on and taking advantage of maybe Bangor’s early errors (helped),” Oxford Hills coach Cindy Goddard said. “I think just being on in hitting helped. I think knowing we could get a couple of runs could stop their defense. We made one defensive error and we stole bases.

“We did a lot of things that we have been practicing,” Goddard said. “It was awesome.”

The Vikings collected three more runs in the third inning. A pair of errors at shortstop allowed first baseman Brooke Carson (two hits) and Merrill to score. Merrill got on with a double and Carson singled.

The fifth inning became a free-for-all for the Vikings, who pushed across four more runs. Carson started the foray with a hit, stole second and rushed home on outfielder Haileigh Sawyer’s RBI single. Outfielder Kori Kahkonen singled and she and Sawyer both scored on catcher Ashley Child’s RBI double. Child was replaced by pinch runner Bella Deviva, who scored on an RBI single by third baseman Katie Montelong.

The Vikings rang up 10 hits and committed one error. Bangor starting pitcher Morgan-Carter Moulton, who was relieved in the sixth by Makenzie Thompson, was tagged with the loss.

Oxford Hills picked up its 10th run when Gallan walked, stole second, moved to third with the help of Day’s single and came home on an error.

“We fought hard,” Bangor coach Don Stanhope said. “That’s a fantastic team. Oxford Hills plays speed ball and short game really well. They got great hits when they needed and Merrill, an outstanding pitcher, kept the ball away from us, kept us off-balance all day. 

“We’ve got some very good bats and we weren’t able to let go on them today. We made some good mistakes and we had a lot of situations happen to us when they haven’t happened to us all season,” he added. “A good team like Oxford Hills puts you in that spot. They are just so fast on the base paths. So we had some great opportunities to learn some things and take them into the next season. We are young throughout our whole field so it was a great learning experience for us.”


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