SOUTH PARIS – The Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School softball team, or at least its coaching staff, secretly wonders just how good it really is.
And depending upon how you looked at it, Thursday’s 9-1 trouncing of Gardiner at Gouin Athletic Complex either solved the riddle unequivocally or didn’t provide any answers at all.
True, it was a one-sided victory over a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference southern division rival that is expected to at least challenge for an Eastern Class A playoff position. But are the Vikings this tough, or are they just head-and-shoulders above the teams that have cropped up on their schedule so far?
“We haven’t really been tested yet. I’m not saying that meanly, even though it may sound that way when it’s in the paper,” said Oxford Hills coach Cindy Goddard. “We just haven’t really been down in a game. I’m not sure if we were behind by four runs going into the fifth how we would respond.”
Oxford Hills (6-0) kept the mystery intact by expunging most of the drama from this rain-rescheduled game in the bottom of the second inning. The Vikings scored five runs on the strength of five hits, two well-placed squeeze bunts and aggressive base running.
Tia Pratt poked a two-run, two-out single to prolong the rally, then punctuated it by scoring on Diann Ramsey’s single to center field. Pratt finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Ramsey, Emmylou Blake and Mindy Rugg all ripped two hits, with Rugg and Blake each crossing the plate twice.
“We only have one senior,” Goddard said. “But I would say we have a little bit of everything. Our hitting, base running and defense are pretty good, and we’re not going to give up a lot of runs.”
Jen Jurczak and Sammy Dolloff combined on a five-hitter. Jurczak confounded the Tigers (3-3) for the first five innings, scattering four hits while fanning seven. Five of those were called third strikes, as the hard thrower with the windmill motion froze Gardiner hitters by hitting both the inside and outside corners at their knees.
Dolloff retired the final six hitters after issuing a leadoff single to losing pitcher Courtney Allen in the sixth inning.
Gardiner scored its only run in the fourth, when Leslie Kittredge singled, then rounded the bases on an errant pickoff throw by the catcher.
“So far we haven’t made a ton of errors,” Goddard said, “although we do make our share.”
But the Vikings’ feistiness with the bat and station-to-station quickness typically frustrate foes into physical and mental mistakes, and Gardiner was no exception. Rugg’s textbook bunt pushed home Blake with Oxford Hills’ first run. Next, the Tigers trapped Megan Gauger between third and home after Jen Schnoor’s bunt but botched the rundown, leaving everyone safe and setting the table for Pratt and Ramsey.
In the third, Blake scored on a dropped fly ball with two out to make it 6-0. Rugg’s leadoff double, a wild pitch and Gardiner’s third and fourth errors of the afternoon accounted for three additional tallies in the sixth.