CAMDEN — Instead of rejoicing, the Oak Hill softball team was regrouping Monday.
The Raiders watched a slim lead slip away in the bottom of the seventh when Camden’s Haley Buckheit singled in two runs to force extra innings. Oak Hill had been within one out of victory, but now had to start anew.
“I knew I had to stay focused,” said Oak Hill pitcher Lauren Hall. “I knew if I stayed focused, everyone else would stay focused. If everyone sees that I want to win, hopefully, everyone will tag along and do it with me, but it’s tough to comeback and try to get your team all up again like we were.”
The Raiders responded against a game Windjammer club. It took two more innings, but an Abby Goulet single in the ninth plated the winning run and enabled Oak Hill to remain unbeaten with a 3-2 victory.
“They realized that we’re not invincible,” said Oak Hill coach Julie Boucher. “We can be beat. We have to come through. We have to play together and play solid, which we hadn’t. It shows the character that I’ve always seen in this team.”
The Raiders (7-0) got two hits and took advantage of a Camden error in the ninth to get the winning run. With one out, Katie Wood singled for the fourth time in the game and Taylor Fillion reached on an error. Hall, who had three hits and an RBI, was walked intentionally to load the bases. A grounder back to the mound by Becca Belaire got a force out at home. That left the Raiders, who left 12 runners on base in the game, one out away from squandering another opportunity to score.
“I wasn’t hitting that good at the beginning of the game,” said Goulet. “I was thinking, ‘Cool, two outs, I have to get this hit.’ I came through and got on base.”
She singled in the hole just out of the shortstop’s reach. Fillion came in to score to make it 3-2.
“I saw it coming and thought that it looked good and decided I was going for it,” said Goulet about her pitch to hit.
In the bottom of the inning, the Windjammers (3-4) threatened to tie it. It was the bottom of the order that sparked the seventh-inning rally, and Camden was hoping to duplicate that feat in the ninth. With one out, Abbey White, singled for the third time in the game. Hall then struck out Morgan Farley looking and got two quick strikes on Buckheit before getting her to pop out to first baseman Sarah Albert.
“I just wanted to pitch strikes and get out of it,” said Hall, who scattered seven hits and struck out 10. ” I wanted to keep it outside. I didn’t want to give them anything to hit. They’re a good hitting team. So I just wanted to keep it outside. When I did go inside, they got good hits.”
Oak Hill had chances to take the lead early but hurt its own cause with baserunning mistakes. One runner failed to take an extra base on a bunt and another was doubled off third on a line drive. Hall followed both mistakes with singles that could have been run-producing.
“We didn’t have the best baserunning in the world,” said Boucher, whose team will get further tested with Winslow Wednesday and two-time defending Eastern B champs Medomak Valley on Friday. “When you get as many baserunners as we did early, I knew we still had some chances left.”
Hall kept Camden at bay early, allowing just three hits over the first six innings. Hall, Albert and outfielder Marrissa Caskin made some nice defensive plays in the field.
The Raiders took the lead in the fifth with three hits and two Camden errors. With Albert and Wood on base, Fillion hit a liner that drilled Buckheit and knocked her down. Camden was able to get an out at the plate, and after taking a moment, Buckheit was able to resume pitching. Hall was the next batter and singled in Wood. Belaire followed with a fielder’s choice that allowed Fillion to score when Camden threw the ball away as she raced home.
That lead appeared safe until the seventh. Kylie Carlsen and White singled with one out. After Farley made the second out, Buckheit came to bat and drilled a single to the gap to tie it. Camden had a chance in the eighth when Sarah Steele doubled with two outs, but the Raiders got a grounder to end the threat.
“We kind of needed a game like this to show the true heart of the team and to come through tough situations like this,” said Boucher.