MONMOUTH — It was a grind-it-out kind of game when Monmouth Academy and Boothbay faced off on the softball diamond Friday.
Yet there were no nails bitten, no clutch hits, no tense at-bats.
There was a winner, a loser, and two teams trying to process what they learned in the outcome — a 21-0, five inning victory for the host Mustangs, their first of the season.
Friday’s contest was over in the third inning when the Mustangs (1-1) plated 12 runs. Monmouth sent 17 batters to the plate in the frame. The Seahawks (0-2) sent 16 to the dish in the entire game.
Only a two-out single by Victoria Morin in the fourth prevented Boothbay from being on the wrong side of a no-hitter.
“We’re young. We’re not going to be one the stronger teams in the conference, by any means,” Boothbay coach Matt Brewer said. “But that doesn’t mean that we’re not going to play hard. We got a group of younger middle schoolers coming up through, so we’re trying to keep the program going. So even in a game like this, if we can plate a run, if we can put the bat on the ball, if we can get different pitchers working, that’s all positive stuff. I mean, it’s early in the season. I anticipate toward the end of the season we’re going to make a lot of growth.”
Monmouth has bigger goals. The Mustangs hope — and expect — to contend in Class C South this season. Friday was victory No. 1 in the books on the path to that goal. But it was also a teaching moment for the winning side.
“You just really focus on keeping kids in the game, in the present, working timing,” Monmouth co-coach Dave Kaplan said. “And actually, Boothbay kids hit the ball, so that was good, got to work the defense and got to really work on timing. It’s hard. It’s hard. It took a few times through the lineup to start hitting the ball, but they really have to learn to time stuff, fast or slow.”
The Mustangs suffered their only strikeout in the first inning, then showed better plate discipline in drawing 15 walks.
Kaplan said his hitters were “very patient” against Boothbay starting pitcher Hannah Gentry, who issued a dozen free passes in 3 1/3 innings pitched.
Brewer said Gentry took the shaky outing in stride.
“She’s great. She’s tough as nails,” Brewer said. “She just started playing softball last year, so to go from never playing to being starting pitching in a varsity game is pretty good. And she’s got a great attitude. She’s not going to let anything get to her. She wasn’t down on herself or anything. I just wanted her to throw strikes, I knew they were going to put the bat on the ball, and we were going to try to make the plays behind her.”
Gentry was taking the place of the Seahawks’ No. 1 starter, freshman Josey Smith, who is currently on vacation.
“I think the big positive for us today, even though they’re not completely pleased with themselves, is we got pitchers work that have never pitched in a varsity game before,” Brewer said.
Senior Erica Eames finished the game in the circle for Boothbay.
Monmouth’s pitchers had a less bumpy outing. Sophomore Mariah Herr set down the first 11 batters of the game, including five via strikeout, before Morin’s solid single.
“That was her first varsity start, so it was very good,” Kaplan said. “She hit her spots. That’s what we were looking for. Throw strikes, establish command of the strike zone, hit your spots.”
Haylee Langlois pitched a perfect fifth to close out the win.
Making Herr’s debut even more impressive was that she sat in the dugout for longer stretches than usual while her offense went to work. The Mustangs defense was just as rock-solid in not committing an error on nine balls in play.
“Trying to keep the talk focused on softball, and that’s what gets hard for these kids,” Kaplan said. “When the innings drag on 20, 25 minutes between going in the field and coming in, their attention starts to wander. So you got to try to keep them up in the dugout, in the present, focusing on the little things, what is the pitcher throwing, what is the umpire’s zone.
“Little things that can help you later on down the road is what you hope they focus on.”
The Mustang hitters banged out eight hits to go along with the 15 walks, as well as two hit-by-pitches. Emily Chasse had a pair of hits in the third, leading off with a single and later dropping in a double. Langlois also collected a pair of hits, including a two-run single in the fourth.
Brewer said his team’s offense is better than what it showed Friday. The Seahawks scored 11 runs in a season-opening loss to Dirigo.
“I think we put the bat on the ball well a couple times, they just made some good plays,” Brewer said. “We can score some runs. We’re going to put the bat on the ball.”
On Friday, it was the Monmouth hitters who showed patience at the plate. The Boothbay players in the other dugout will have to show the same kind of patience as the season wears on. And for the underclassmen, as one season turns the calendar to another.
“We’re not going to be world-beaters in the Mountain Valley Conference, but we have a priority to keep our program going,” Brewer said. “I think we’ve got some good stuff coming up through the pipeline, and maybe four, five years from now we’re the ones putting it on other teams. That’s the goal.”
It was fairly quiet in the Monmouth Academy dugout when they were up 20-0 over Boothbay during the fourth inning on Friday.
Haylee Langlois of Monmouth Academy smacks a RBI single against Boothbay in Monmouth on Friday.
Boothbay catcher Chyanne Rogers follows a pop up behind the plate during Friday’s game against Monmouth Academy.
Monmouth Academy starting pitcher Mariah Herr (8) gets a fist bump from catcher Abby Ferland during a time out in Monmouth on Friday.
Emily Kaplan of Monmouth Academy beats the throw to Boothbay catcher Chyanne Rogers in Monmouth on Friday. Kaplan scored on the play.
Hannah Anderson of Monmouth Academy scores as Boothbay pitcher Hannah Gentry fields the throw from catcher Chyanne Rogers on a wild pitch on Friday.