WINTHROP — There was a jubilant feel to when the Winthrop softball team gathered after its game with Lisbon and, in the moments afterward, the enthusiasm hadn’t faded.
“These kids now know, I hope, that they can compete with anybody in the league,” coach Chuck Gurney said.
The Ramblers showed it Monday. A pair of big hits led to five early runs and backed pitcher Layne Audet, sending Winthrop on its way to a 5-2 victory in a matchup of Class C South contenders. Winthrop improved to 10-3, while Lisbon fell to 8-4.
“That’s kind of been the thing all year long,” Gurney said. “These kids have risen to the challenge every big game we’ve had, whether it be Monmouth or Carrabec or today. We knew Lisbon was a powerhouse team with a lot of offense.”
Sam Allen and Bry Baxter drove in three and two runs, respectively, with singles, while Hanna Caprara singled twice and scored a run and Kate Perkins singled and scored twice.
Giana Russo scored both Lisbon runs, while Ivy Morris had an RBI single and Carly Drischler had a triple.
“We definitely didn’t string together hits when we needed it,” Greyhounds coach Tammi Tlumac said. “We had hits, but they weren’t timely hits. You get a triple with nobody on, or a double with nobody on.”
Rallying with two
Winthrop had no such problem.
The Ramblers threatened in the first inning, with Perkins and Audet reaching on singles, but the rally seemed to be fizzling after a pop-up to shortstop for the second out. Baxter, however, came through in the next at-bat, flaring a fly ball to right field on the first pitch that fell for a single and scored Perkins and pinch-runner Dani McClure for a 2-0 lead.
Winthrop lost to Lisbon by a run last year, and Baxter said she knew the importance of putting her team in front early.
“Going up, I was like, ‘We need these hits, we need these hits,’” the sophomore first baseman said. “I was told she pitches up high and I tend to swing at ones up high, so I was like, ‘OK, let’s not swing at ones up high. Let’s swing at ones lower today,’ and it was right around my waist. … As the pitch came to me, I thought, ‘Oh, I think I can hit that.’ ”
Lisbon got within one when Russo scored on a passed ball in the second, but Winthrop pinned the Greyhounds again in the third. Perkins walked and Caprara (single) and Baxter (walk) reached with two outs, loading the bases, and Allen sent an 0-1 offering into the left-field gap for a single that scored all three for a 5-1 lead.
“Right off the bat, you could feel it was a good one,” Allen said. “We had to get them in the beginning. Get the tone set, that’s how we work. Then go from there.”
The runs were driven in by Winthrop’s fifth and sixth hitters, which Gurney said reflected the balance of the lineup.
“There’s no superstar on this team,” Gurney said. “On any given day, any one of those kids can get that big hit.”
Hurling a gem
The support was more than Audet needed. The Rambler pitcher was excellent in the circle, striking out eight while scattering four hits and walking one.
“Layne is, the old saying is cool as the other side of the pillow,” Gurney said. “You can never tell if we’re behind by three, ahead by three. She’s just totally focused.”
Audet stranded a runner on second in the top of the first, limited the damage after Lisbon scored by leaving runners on in the second and fourth, and pitched around a two-out triple in the fifth. She looked a step ahead of a hard-hitting Greyhounds lineup all afternoon.
“We threw (her changeup) more than we normally would, trying to keep the Lisbon hitters off balance,” Gurney said. “She hits her spots, as well as anybody in the league in my opinion.”
On the mend
A bright spot for Lisbon was freshman Abby Miner, who relieved starter Joanna Turner in the fourth and blanked the Ramblers from there, allowing only one hit while striking out five — the last five batters she faced.
Tlumac, whose team scored its second and final run on Morris’ RBI single in the fourth, said it was the latest positive sign for the pitcher, who is recovering from an ankle injury suffered earlier in the season.
“We’ve been using her in a limited amount of pitches at this time,” she said. “But as the season is progressing and as she throws more, she only gets stronger. That’s definitely something we’ll utilize down the road.”
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