AUGUSTA — The Gardiner softball team had already shown it can win games. On Saturday, the Tigers showed they can fight for those wins too.

Gardiner erased a one-run deficit with two runs in the fifth, then tacked on three more insurance runs in the seventh before coming away with a 7-4 victory over Cony that upped its record to 4-0.

Maddie Farnham scored three runs and keyed the winning rally with a triple, while Kassidy Collins doubled twice and had two RBI, Taylor Takatsu doubled and scored twice and Kylie Boardman had a double and two RBI.

“We came into this season knowing we’re a young team, but we knew that didn’t matter,” Farnham said. “We’re all strong, and I think we play really well together. And whenever we come to Cony, no matter how good either team is, it’s always a good game.”

“These girls have got heart. They just don’t know how to quit,” Gardiner coach Ryan Gero said. “We got down for the first time this year, I brought them in the huddle, talked to them about it, and said ‘Girls, this where we need to dig deep and find heart.’ And they did it.”

Cate Fairbrother-White, Liz Trask and Avery Theriault had a pair of hits apiece for Cony (0-4), while Bri Madore struck out eight in seven innings.

Cony left fielder Haylee Cyr, 3, makes the catch while avoiding a collision with center fielder Liz Trask during a game against Gardiner on Saturday in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

“We’re getting our bats going, that’s been a little struggle at the beginning,” Rams coach Angela McKenna said. “We have a pretty young team, so it’s a little intimidating coming out and playing older kids. But just getting them to start hitting has been the big thing, and they’re getting there.”

The Tigers are a young team as well, with three seniors and one junior, and after taking a quick 2-0 lead on Boardman’s two-run double in the first, their poise was tested after Cony took the lead in a strange fourth inning. After Fairbrother-White and Brooklynn Merrill led off the inning with singles, Theriault hit a grounder to short. Farnham came in to field the ball but was hindered in doing so by Fairbrother-White running to third, and her throw to first sailed high.

“She was right in front of me when I was trying to field it and throw it, so I felt like I needed to rush,” Farnham said.

Fairbrother-White was ruled out on the play, but the Rams still got runners at second and third. An error on Torrie Webber’s grounder allowed both runners to score, and Webber eventually came in on Madore’s grounder to second.

The Tigers had the top of the lineup coming up, however, and there was no panic in the Gardiner dugout even though the lead, and momentum, had swung.

“If we get down on ourselves, we’re not going to be able to come back,” Collins said. “A lot of us were pretty frustrated, but we were just talking about how we needed to do it now. It’s now or never at this point.”

Cony baserunner Avery Theriault, left, couldn’t beat the throw and was tagged out during a game against Gardiner on Saturday in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

Farnham got to work making up for the throw, hitting a ball to deep center that fell for a one-out triple. Takatsu roped the next pitch down the left-field line for a tying double, and Devin Clary two batters later hit another deep fly to right for a double that put the Tigers ahead 5-4.

“We were talking in the dugout, ‘We need to pick it up, we’re better than this.’ We just needed to calm down,” Farnham said. “I was kind of disappointed in myself … but I came back and tried to make another good play, and just brushed it off instead of staying down.”

Collins had the key hit two innings later, a double into the right-center field gap that scored Farnham and Takatsu. She eventually scored on Lovely’s two-out infield single.

“When we came into the huddle before that inning, we said ‘We have the lead, but it’s not enough,'” Collins said. “All their girls were hitting. … We couldn’t be comfortable at that point.”

Indeed, Cony got a run back in the bottom half when Fairbrother-White doubled and came in on Theriault’s single, and the Rams had runners on first and third when Brooke Gero got a grounder to Farnham at short to end it.

“They like a good, competitive game,” McKenna said. “When it’s competitive and back-and-forth like this, I feel like the girls are upbeat and positive, whether we’re ahead or behind. That’s been our big goal this year.”

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