SKOWHEGAN — For a few moments Saturday, it looked as if Edward Little hitters might catch up to Skowhegan ace Ashley Alward.
Chantal Ouellette led off the second inning with a vicious line drive that Alyssa Everett picked off in right field, then Anna LeBlanc drove a ball near the top of the 10-foot fence in left for a double.
Turns out, that was it.
Alward settled into her strikeout mode and her teammates started to hit. It added up to an 8-0 victory that put the unbeaten Indians into Tuesday’s Class A North championship game at Winslow High School. Top-seeded Skowhegan (18-0) will play second-seeded Oxford Hills for the title at 4 p.m. Fifth-seeded Edward Little finishes its season at 10-8.
Alward allowed just one hit while walking four and striking out 13. She escaped trouble in the third by getting three outs after the first two batters reached base, but otherwise coasted.
“I felt pretty good today,” Alward said. “I felt like I was throwing pretty hard and I felt like I was hitting my spots pretty well.”
As they’ve done all season, the Indians played sound defense. In addition to Everett’s catch, Julia Steeves robbed Taylor Depot of a hit in the first inning when she dived to her left to stop a sharp ground ball and threw Depot out from her knees.
“She competed all day long,” Skowhegan coach Lee Johnson said of Alward. “She found a way to be a dominant pitcher and not give up any runs. And we played really good defense behind her. We got out of some situations, that’s what you’ve got to do.”
The Indians got to Ouellette for a run in the second inning when Mariah Dunbar dropped a single just inside the right field line to score Lindsay Warren, who had walked. They got to Warren for three hits and three runs in the third, the big blow being a double off the fence in right from Wylie Bedard.
“Usually, our first at-bat we just need to time it up,” Bedard said. “When we’re in the on-deck circle, that’s when we really need to focus and time it up. Once we did we just kept rolling.”
Sydney Ames (walk), Warren (single) and Bedard all scored in the inning while Annie Cooke contributed an RBI single. The Indians finished with eight hits from eight different players.
“It takes all of us,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t take one person to carry us, it takes a whole team to kind of find a way to score the runs.”
Alward hit her stride over the second half of the game, retiring 11 of the final 13 batters she faced while striking out seven of them. The Red Eddies prepared for Alward but it wasn’t as effective as they had hope.
“We turned up our (pitching) machine and we made some adjustments in the box,” Edward Little coach Elaine Derosby said. “For the most part we did a good job of trying to hold off on those high pitches. But, again, you can make all the adjustments you want, but she’s the player of the year and the best pitcher in our conference.”
Skowhegan added a run in the third when Sydney Reed tripled down the line in left and scored on a dropped third strike when the catcher threw to first. They added three runs in the sixth on an RBI single from Everett and Alward’s two-run double down the right field line. Alward had struck out in two previous at-bats.
“It’s been a little of a (struggle),” she said. “So it felt very good to end it with that.”
Skowhegan slipped past Oxford Hills 2-1 during the regular season and later lost 3-0 to the Vikings in the conference championship game.
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