DIXFIELD – When the stakes were high, Katie Hutchinson stepped up and delivered for the Dirigo softball team Monday at windy Marble Park.
Hutchinson threw a four-hitter and the Cougars’ offense sparkled with five runs in the fifth inning in a 5-0 triumph over Lisbon in a Mountain Valley Conference game.
Dirigo (10-2) overcame its own miscues to make some strong defensive gems to keep the Greyhounds from making noise. The major reason was Hutchinson’s command of the strike zone. She earned herself a season-high 10 strikeouts.
“This was an important game,” Hutchinson said. “Lisbon is Class B, so we knew it represented a lot of Heal Points. I knew that I needed to step up.”
Dirigo had been held in check by Greyhound pitcher Emily Moore, but Lisbon’s wheels unraveled. ]
Megan Russell led the fifth with a single and advanced on a Holly Knight ground-out. Brittany Palmer walked and Abby Fenstermacher’s grounder was misplayed. Russell rounded third and alertly scored on the play. Dani Thompkins singled to reload the bases and Michelle Holmquist, Shannon Daley (two hits) and Hutchinson each hit RBI singles. The Cougars sent 10 batters to the plate.
“There wasn’t very many chances before then,” Dirigo coach Gavin Kane said. “The game was sailing right along until the fifth. I thought Katie threw well, the ball was coming out of her hand fluently. She was in command of her pitches.”
Lisbon (9-5), which lost 1-0 to Monmouth on Saturday, was looking to get back on track.
But Greyhound batters were unable to solve Hutchinson’s location of the ball. The right-hander struck out five of the first eight hitters
“I really don’t know why things are different this season,” Hutchinson said. “The team needed me today, and I hadn’t thrown on Saturday at Wiscasset, so I wanted to redeem myself.”
Erika Merrit (two hits) led off the Lisbon third with a hit, but was thrown out attempting to stretch it in to a double. Kristen Laffely attempted to steal, but was thrown out by Daley.
Lisbon loaded the bases in the sixth and seventh, respectively, but failed to score.
“This was a good way to start the final week of the regular season,” Kane said. “It will be a busy time because we’ve still got three more games, and they are important ones.”