Softball: Vikings caught in witch hunt

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SOUTH PARIS — Skip Estes could have reminded his Brewer softball team about how it came to South Paris last year and beat Oxford Hills in an Eastern A quarterfinal, but the Witches coach knew it might not have much effect.

“That wouldn’t work,” said Estes.

That’s because Brewer only has two returning starters back from last year. Most of the squad that rallied to beat the Vikings a year ago is gone, but Wednesday, a new generation of Witches achieved similar results with a 4-0 victory over the Vikings.

Brewer (5-3) produced three of its four total hits in the fourth inning to plate all four runs.

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“The middle of our lineup has been hitting very strong,” said Estes, whose team rallied late from a 1-0 deficit last year to win 6-1. “We’re a very young team. We’ve had some ups and downs, but today we played extremely well. The defense played very well.”

That was all pitcher Amanda Ryan needed.  She allowed just five hits, two of which came in the bottom of the seventh. She struck out four, walked none and even drove in a run. Emily Cox had a pair of RBIs and Jordan Nickerson drove in one.

“This team is getting stronger every day,” said Estes. “The team is starting to gel. We started 1-3, but we’ve gone on a winning streak and have been playing well.”

Oxford Hills pitcher Heather Verrier only allowed four hits and struck out four. Verrier and the Vikings lost to Mt. Ararat 5-3 Tuesday.

“She wasn’t up on the batters,” said Oxford Hills coach Cindy Goddard. “Usually she gets up on the batters, but she had a lot of 3-2 counts. I don’t feel like she got in that groove.”

The Vikings (5-3) got single hits in each of the first three innings but then went three straight without a hit before two in the final inning. Dayna Schultz had a pair of hits for the Vikings, which left five runners on base.

“I thought we hit the ball well, but it was right at somebody,” said Goddard. “They had a lot of fly balls to the outfield.”

Both teams had runners on in the first few innings but both pitchers were able to escape the threats. Brewer got two runners on in the first with a walk and error but a nice double play set up by a nice catch in center by  Breanna Martin ended that.  The Witches got a lead off walk in the third but stranded her.

Oxford Hills got a double in the first from Schultz, and singles by Brittina Maheux and Schultz in the second and third respectively didn’t amount to anything.

In the fourth, Morgan Haradon led off with a walk, and Ryan followed with an RBI double. The Vikings nearly got out of the inning with just a 1-0 deficit, but with two outs and two runners on, Cox singled just out of the reach of Maheux’s glove at short. An error allowed Cox to advance, and Nickerson singled her home.

“They got a walk and a double, and we could have ended it right there,” said Goddard. “You could kind of see a real shift in the energy after that.”

Ryan cruised through the Viking batting order after that. She put down 10 straight before Brooke Ladd singled with one out in the seventh. After a second out, Jaidyn Rice singled, but Ryan struck out the next batter to end the game.

“The hits just weren’t falling anywhere and then it’s hard to do the whole bunt game because nobody is on,” said Goddard.

kmills@sunjournal.com

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