FAIRFIELD — Raylee Gilbert heard Tom Toner, her Waterville Senior High School softball coach, bark out three numbers, and looked at the wristband on her left wrist. With the pitch called, Gilbert stepped to the rubber in the circle, and threw.

Play wristbands are normally reserved for quarterbacks in football, but for Gilbert and the Purple Panthers softball team, the wristband is a necessary innovation.

All of Gilbert’s pitches were working Wednesday afternoon at Lawrence. Gilbert struck out 20, helping her team take a 2-1, 10-inning win.

“I have a lot (of pitches). Coach (Toner) calling them really came in clutch today. He did an amazing job calling. It was awesome. It was a great team win today,” Gilbert said.

Waterville (8-5) scored the go ahead run in the top of the 10th inning when Haylee Dunn, who singled to lead off the inning, scored on a Lawrence (10-3) error. Gilbert retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning to clinch the victory.

Gilbert allowed four hits — three to Lawrence leadoff hitter Kaylee Elkins — and didn’t walk a batter. Gilbert retired 15 of the last 17 hitters she faced, with one Bulldog reaching base on a dropped third strike over that span.


Throughout the game, Toner yelled out a sequence of three numbers, 1-2-3 for example, which signified the pitch he wanted Gilbert to throw.

“It’s just easier as we call a game, to make sure we’re all on the same page. The catcher (Abby Williams) has the same thing,” Toner said. “(Gilbert) did a great job. The more it went, the stronger she got. To throw 10 full innings, amazing.”

“She was just keeping us off balance,” Lawrence coach Joey Marcoux said of Gilbert. “She has an aggressive windup, and she throws the ball relatively hard. So you gear yourself up for that, and she her changeup was good today. She throws all kinds of stuff.”

The Panthers took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second when Jess Mayo scored on Rylee Lint’s opposite field triple to left field. Lawrence tied the game in the bottom of the sixth when Elkins scored on a throwing error. Elkins was trying to go from first to third base on Taylor Wilkie’s sacrifice bunt, and when the throw to third squirted through, Elkins scored to tie the game at 1-1.

Waterville’s Haylee Dunn (29) celebrates with teammates after scoring the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th inning against Lawrence during a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference game Wednesday in Fairfield. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Throughout the game, Gilbert and Lawrence pitcher Sage Reed dominated hitters. Reed allowed six hits and six walks one intentional) to go with 15 strikeouts.

“I’ve been on the winning end of those, and I’ve been on the losing end, and that’s just the way it goes. It was a great game,” Marcoux said. “I thought our kid pitched a good game, too.”


As the game dragged on, Gilbert continued to remind herself to stay composed. Waterville’s word of the day was amnesia, as in forget Monday’s 6-0 loss to Maranacook. Gilbert’s resolve was tested in the first inning, when Elkins led off with a single and Walkie reached on an error, giving the Bulldogs runners on second and third base with nobody out. Gilbert got a strikeout, popout, and strikeout to escape the jam.

“We’ve really struggled this year, with everything,” Gilbert said. “After Monday, when we played like absolute garbage, it could’ve (gotten away), easily. You’ve just got to bear down. That’s what my dad (Chris Gilbert) always tells me. You’ve just got to bear down and get yours.”

Elkins reached third base with one out in the third, but a pair of Gilbert strikeouts ended the threat. Lawrence had a chance to score in the bottom of the eighth, with runners on second and third again, but a Gilbert strikeout ended the inning.

“I hope we hold up,” Toner said when asked what he was thinking as the game wore on. “Lawrence is a very tough team.”

Gilbert’s best pitch Wednesday was her rising curveball. That’s the one she felt most confident in when she heard Toner call out the numbers and she glanced at the wristband.

“My rising curve was on today. Our ump called that outside corner all day, and we just kept staying with it,” Gilbert said.


Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242


Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


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