GARDINER — The Gardiner Tigers plated fives runs behind timely hitting and some defensive miscues by Leavitt en route to a 5-0 victory in the teams’ KVAC softball season opener Wednesday afternoon.
Despite spending no time on a field thus far this spring, both teams battled the cool temperatures and played a solid game both at bat and in the field.
Gardiner struck first in the second inning, starting with a leadoff walk from Kylie Sirois. Following a strikeout from Leavitt’s Abby Robertson, the Tigers strung together three base hits, including an RBI knock from first baseman Brooke Somes.
In the third, Julia Nadeau reached on an error and later scored on a two-out single from Meaghan Meehan giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead through three innings.
Meanwhile, pitcher Jillian Bisson and the Tigers’ defense kept the Leavitt hitters quiet and the runners from getting past third. Already with one runner being doubled off the base paths on a line drive, a pair of runners from the visiting team were cut down at the plate, including a run-down between third and home that left Leavitt clean up hitter Bri Noniewicz being removed from the game with a shoulder injury after diving back into third while being tagged out.
“This is our first time outdoors all season, we really just want to come out of this game healthy,” Leavitt coach Kevin Leonard said. “Unfortunately, Bri’s had some issues with the shoulder before and she’s uncomfortable, and that isn’t good.”
Leavitt was also playing shorthanded to begin with, missing four varsity players due to commitments over spring break.
“We put things together today despite not having all of our girls,” Leonard said.
“If you were to tell me before the game we’d end up only giving up five runs while competing with a well-coached Gardiner team, I’d take it,” he added.
Gardiner scored a pair of crucial insurance runs in the fourth, following a leadoff double by Somes and a fielder’s choice that resulted in no outs, Logan Granholm laid down a bunt with runners on second and third, Robertson handled the ball off the mound but couldn’t connect with catcher Taylor White as the ball rolled to the backstop, scoring two runs.
Trailing 4-0, Leavitt had an opportunity to push some runs across the board in the fifth inning. Amika Mitchell led off the frame with her second single of the game. Mallory Casey followed with a fielder’s choice forcing Mitchell at second base and then Bailey Deroucher ripped one of her three hits, a double just over the center fielder’s head putting runners on second and third with one out.
Shortstop Kassie Murch took the first pitch and hit a comebacker to Bisson on the mound and left Casey in no man’s land between third and home for the second out of the inning. Robertson lined out to the pitcher to end the inning.
Gardiner added their final run in the bottom of the sixth after a Bisson single, a sacrifice, and an RBI single from Maggie Bell.
Bisson scattered six hits while striking out three and walking none for the victory. Abby Robertson took the loss allowing seven hits and a pair of earned runs. She struck out a pair while walked three.