STANDISH — Greenville coach Mike Cabral likened his softball team to a pot simmering on a stove. When it was time, the Lakers blew the lid right off.

Top-seeded Greenville earned its second straight Class D South regional championship at Bailey Field, scoring twice in the bottom of the seventh inning to walk off  No. 3 Richmond, 5-4, on Tuesday afternoon. Junior Halle Pelletier drove in the winning run with an infield single off the outstretched glove of Bobcat first baseman Bry Lancaster to send the reigning state champions back to the Class D title game Saturday.

“I knew it wasn’t over until it was over and we never give up,” Pelletier said. “I knew someone was going to come in clutch, and we all ended up coming in clutch and hitting each other around the bases. I knew it was going to happen.

Richmond’s Ashley Brown is tagged out by Greenville infielder Tiegan Murray during the Class D South final Tuesday at St. Joseph’s College in Standish. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy

“We realized we didn’t want to be losers right now. We knew how good it felt to win these.”

That Greenville (16-2) rallied back impressed, if only because Richmond senior pitcher Caitlin Kendrick spent the better part of the day out-dueling Pelletier in the circle.

Richmond (13-5) spotted Greenville a 3-0 lead after two innings with some indecision and sloppy defensive work. But Kendrick held the Lakers to one hit through the first six innings, needing just 67 pitches to get the Bobcats to the bottom of the seventh with a 4-3 lead. She tossed 11 or fewer pitches in five of the first six frames.

But a leadoff walk to Laker second baseman Emily Vraux in the seventh began the unraveling.

Following a sacrifice bunt that moved Vraux into scoring position, No. 9 hitter Tiegan Murray singled to left field, putting runners at second and third with one out.

Nicole Tribbet dropped Bianca Breton’s fly ball to allow the tying run to score and put two more Lakers into scoring position. Kendrick got Jessica Pomerleau to pop up to Leah Wescott at second for the second out, but Pelletier ticketed the first pitch she saw for the hole in the right side of the infield and a few seconds later Tiegan crossed the plate with the winning run.

“We talked about (walking Pelletier to set up a force play) in the dugout, but I thought I’d leave it the way it was to see what happened,” Richmond coach Tony Martin said. “They hadn’t hit the ball that hard. That’s what I was thinking — but you know where ‘thought’ got you.

“They had a couple bleeder hits, but you can’t start off walking the leadoff hitter. You just can’t. You’ve got to get that first out.”

“(The bottom of the order) found a way to get on base and let the big sticks get up,” Cabral added. “We felt if we could get one of those runners on, we’d win the game. We’re an extremely good hitting team.

“It was kind of like a cover on a simmering pot. I felt like it was a matter of time, but when you see seven (innings) up on that scoreboard, you wonder if that time’s going to come.”

Richmond tied the game at 3-3 with three runs in the top of the fifth inning, but there was the sense the Bobcats had failed to convert too many good opportunities early.

They stranded seven baserunners through the first four innings, five of them in scoring position. Even in the three-run fifth, the inning ended prematurely with the bases loaded. Wescott struck out for the second out, but Hannah Moholland — believing it was the final out of the frame — trotted off third base toward the dugout.

It was an easy tag for the Greenville catcher Breton to put out the fire.

“We couldn’t get into the game, we couldn’t get that one hit we needed or the one bunt we wanted down,” Martin said. “It just wasn’t coming together early on. It took us, instead of one time through the lineup, three times through the lineup to start making stuff happen.”

Richmond’s Ashley Brown is tagged out by Greenville infielder Tiegan Murray during the Class D South final Tuesday at St. Joseph’s College in Standish. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy

The Bobcats struck for a go-ahead run in the fourth with Shea’s RBI single to right that scored Tribbet from third.

Kendrick held up her end from there, retiring 14 straight batters from the second through sixth innings. She just couldn’t get through the seventh unscathed.

“Our offense didn’t stay on the gas pedal,” Cabral said. “We got into a little bit of a malaise, and they just needed reality to strike back in before they re-focused. I’ve got all new gray hair.”


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