Vikings drop Hornets

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SOUTH PARIS – The last thing Jen Jurczak wanted to see Monday afternoon was rain.

It wasn’t just because the Oxford Hills pitcher, like just about everyone else, was sick and tired of the watery climate. Pitching in the rain isn’t exactly her forte.

“I usually struggle when it rains,” said Jurczak. “I assured myself that I could do it. So it’s just getting through the first couple innings.”

Though she gave up three runs in the first, Jurczak and her Vikings battled back for an 8-5 win over Leavitt.

“Psychologically, on a rainy day, she thinks, Oh my God, I can’t pitch.'” said Oxford Hills coach Cindy Goddard. “So I don’t think she threw some of the stuff she usually does.”

The Hornets (5-6) built a 3-0 lead in the first inning thanks to two hits and two walks, but Leavitt couldn’t maintain that momentum. Jurczak allowed just three hits and walked just one the rest of the way.

“I felt like I settled down,” said Jurczak. “I started to believe that I could do it. I tend to psyche myself out when it rains. I prepare to struggle, I guess.”

The team around her shook off the slow start as well and responded with four runs in the bottom of the first and rallied a second time in the fourth.

“At the beginning, it was like we all weren’t in it,” said shortstop Diann Ramsey. “But we came back. I think the hitting got us going.”

Leavitt’s lead came when Jess Paladino scored on a fielder’s choice by Beth Burgess. After Brittany Gurney scored on a passed ball, Amie Chiasson singled in Burgess for the 3-0 lead.

Ramsey brought the Vikings (8-1) right back with a two-run triple, and she scored on a wild pitch. Emmylou Blake’s single scored Mindy Rugg for a 4-3 lead.

“Our hitting definitely brings us into it when we’re not there defensively,” said Ramsey.

Leavitt took the lead again in the second when Gurney and Kat Rothe scored on a Viking error, but Oxford Hills scored three in the fourth to take the lead for good. Tia Pratt singled in Sammy Dolloff and then scored on a wild pitch. Ramsey scored on a two-out error for a 7-5 lead. The Vikings added a run in the sixth when Ramsey singled in Jen Schnoor.

Leavitt had chances to rally in the final three innings. Steph Healy reached on an infield hit in the fifth and advanced on a sacrifice. She tried to score on an error but Molly Dow made the throw from first, and Viking catcher Teira Durgin tagged her out. In the sixth, Heidi Swett was caught stealing at third, and Schnoor turned a hard line drive by Burgess into a double play in the seventh.

“It’s almost like we’re snakebit,” said Leavitt coach Pete Higgins. “We’ve played everybody tough, but we don’t seem to put it all together.”

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