Buckfield assistant coach Dan Jack sends Julia Dow home for a fourth inning run against Greenville High School on Wednesday. Dow’s run cut Greenville’s lead to 7-3. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
STANDISH — A two-run top of the first inning fired up Buckfield in Wednesday’s Class D South softball regional final.
The problem for the Bucks was that their quick strike also got Greenville going as well.
The Lakers took the first punch, then countered with a four-run flurry to take momentum and never let go in a 9-3 win at Richard W. Bailey Field.
“When we came off the field, we all gathered up and said, ‘Well, we’ve seen what they can do, and we can handle that,'” Greenville coach Mike Cabral said. “We actually came out of that with a lot of confidence. We started out a little slow, we were a little tense, but we saw that, and we knew we were going to hit. So we actually, we were feeling pretty confident after that first inning.”
Cara Merrill led off the game with a walk, then scored two batters later when Hannah Shields’ grounder turned into two throwing errors. Carley Trimm singled in Shields to give the third-seeded Bucks (14-5) a quick 2-0 lead.
The lead lasted just one inning before the top-seeded Lakers (17-1) found their rhythm on offense.
Aleya Pelletier led off the bottom of the second with a single against Bucks starter Julia Dow. A single by Sierra Bussell two batters later got two runners on before a fielder’s choice at second put runners at the corners with two outs. Emily Vraux singled in Pelletier, and Jordan Mann also came in on an error to tie the game. Jessica Pomerleau followed with a single, then Shelby Cowin’s grounder turned into a throwing error that scored two more runs, giving the Lakers a 4-2 lead.
“We had a couple errors there in that, when they scored four runs in one inning, that’s tough to go down,” Buckfield coach Sandy Albert said.
“It flipped the switch,” Albert added. “Momentum in softball changes really quickly, and I think that’s what happened. It just changed in their favor.”
The Lakers added three more in the third. Two walks and a single loaded the bases, and Mann, the No. 8 hitter, drove in all three runs with a double to right-center.
“We have a very, very good hitting team, and we felt that we were going to hit. It was a matter of time, and they all delivered,” Cabral said. “From the bottom of our order is what really kicked us off. They got us going, they got some key hits. We got key hits from the seventh spot, the eighth spot, the ninth spot, and that’s what carried us.”
Mann’s double knocked out Dow, who allowed seven runs on six hits and a walk. Merrill came on in relief to get the final two outs of the inning.
“(Cara) came in and did really, really,” Albert said. “They hit really well. They hit better than I expected off Julia.”
Buckfield got one run back in the fourth, with Dow hitting an infield single and scoring on two errors after stealing second.
Greenville pitcher Halle Pelletier gave up consecutive singles after striking out Brittney Warren on Dow’s steal and score, but the sophomore cleanly fielded a grounder back to her to get out of the inning. She gave up just two more hits the rest of the way, and just six total in the game.
“I usually am better in the end because I know that my team will bat,” Pelletier said.
The Lakers gave Pelletier two more insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. Pomerleau led off with a single and scored on Bianca Breton’s single. Breton cam home when Halle Pelltier’s fly ball fell in.
Buckfield loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the seventh, but Mann got under a foul pop fly at third to end the game.
The regional title is the first in program history for the Lakers, who will play defending state champion Penobscot Valley on Saturday for the state title.
Buckfield left fielder Margaret Bragg makes a running catch in fould territory during Wednesday’s game against Greenville High School in Standish. Bragg made an out on the play. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Buckfield starting pitcher Julia Dow fields a ground ball during Wednesday’s game against Greenville High School in Standish. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Jessica Pomerleau, left, and Emily Vraux of Greenville hug after the Lakers beat the Buckfield Bucks 9-3 to win the Class D South Championship in Standish on Wednesday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)
Greenville catcher Shelby Cowin jumps into the arms of pitcher Halie Pelletier after the Lakers beat the Buckfield Bucks 9-3 to win the Class D South Championship in Standish on Wednesday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)