TURNER — Confidence in the players behind her, an early three-run lead and commanding pitches in the low-to-mid-50s were a recipe for success for Sarah Boynton.
The Maranacook junior struck out the first five batters she faced — she finished with 13 — and allowed only one hit and never pitched to more than four batters in any inning, leading the Black Bears to a dominating 10-0 victory over the Leavitt Hornets on Friday.
“It all came together today,” Boynton said. “We had a new infield behind me, and that gave me a lot of confidence out there.”
Seven of the first nine Leavitt hitters went the way of the strikeout. Kate Ledwell broke up Boynton’s offer at a perfect game with a walk in the bottom of the third. The other two of the Hornets’ first 10 batters grounded weakly back to Boynton in the circle.
“She’s as good a pitcher as there is in this league, and probably one of the better pitchers in the state when she wants to be,” Maranacook coach Don Beckwith said. “The only person who can stop her is her when she’s on, and she was on today. She’s as good as they come.”
“She’s the best pitcher we’ve seen, but we didn’t help ourselves out, either,” Leavitt coach Pete Higgins said. “We had an abundance of errors that helped them, and they didn’t need any help.”
The Hornets kicked the ball around in the top of the first inning, before Boynton had even thrown a pitch. Ashley Belanger reached on a dropped third strike, Boynton was safe on a fielding error and after a Katie Dore double deep to left, Jesse Smith scored on a wild throw. The Black Bears scored three unearned runs in the first frame on two hits and three errors.
“Routine plays, 1-2-3, we do what we’re supposed to do and we’re out of the inning,” Higgins said. “But that set the whole tone.”
Then Boynton went to work, working up and down in the zone and throwing at varying speeds.
“I haven’t been throwing a lot of different pitches the last couple games, but I decided to switch it up today,” Boynton said. “That threw them off.”
After a pair of dormant innings for the Maranacook offense, the bats heated up again in the fourth. Sarah Brooks, Heidi Shaw and Belanger all scored — the latter coming home on another error — to stake the Black Bears to a commanding 6-0 lead. They also smashed a couple of long foul balls, just missing a home run twice.
“I thought we swung the bat real well today,” Beckwith said. “We had the power, even though they didn’t all stay fair. That can take a little bit of the pitching out of the pitcher, to see that, when she knows somebody can take it that long.”
Leavitt hurler Adrie Newton went the distance in the loss, surrendering six earned runs on 12 hits while striking out five.
Maranacook tacked on two more in the fifth and one each in the sixth and seventh innings against Newton. Shaw tagged an 0-1 pitch from Newton for a long home run to left field, one pitch after lofting an even deeper strike just foul for the final run of the game.
“We are young, we have only one senior on the squad this season,” Higgins said. “We’re having our ups and downs, but this is the first game we’ve kind of lost control. We’ve been in all of the other games, losing a couple by one and then down by one going into the bottom of the sixth. We’ve been in the games, but this was a whole new experience for them, I guess. Hopefully we’ll learn from it.”