MONMOUTH – Dirigo High School’s softball team had to deal with a few foreign elements Thursday afternoon. You know: dirt; chalk lines; wind that wasn’t generated by ceiling fans.

After no scrimmages and only two outdoor practices, the Cougars finally got outside long enough to squeeze in a 4-2 Mountain Valley Conference victory over Monmouth Academy.

Megan Russell scored a run in each of the first two innings, driving Dirigo to a 4-1 lead. That was enough for winning pitcher Katie Hutchinson, who tossed a three-hitter and stranded the potential tying run on base in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.

“It’s my first real game scenario without the scrimmages, so I’m just real happy we came out with the win. I haven’t practiced on a mound yet,” said Hutchinson. “It all came together in the end. That’s what counts.”

Monmouth (1-2) dropped a close one to a fellow MVC contender for the second day in a row. The Mustangs fell 2-1 to reigning state champion Telstar on Wednesday.

Alyssa Morin, Kristen Cotton and Jess Gray each slapped a hit. Leadoff hitter Jen Lola stole three bases and scored both runs for Monmouth.

The Mustangs don’t live on an island or in a bubble. Up until their stretch of three games in four days, the weather wasn’t kind to them, either.

“If we’d had a chance to get these kids some games, they would have been more relaxed,” said Monmouth coach Rachel Bernier. “But we had no scrimmages whatsoever.”

Monmouth’s indoor batting cage is damaged. Another one is on order, but thanks to the posted, rural roads typical of a pothole-laden Maine spring, it can’t be delivered to the school yet.

“So you’re trying to hit inside, and you’re not going get (the timing) against Wiffle balls. You need something with some zip on it,” Bernier said. “Right now, I think the pitchers have the advantage.”

Hutchinson nibbled the strike zone throughout her 116-pitch afternoon, walking six while striking out four. She plunked Lola and Jill Armstrong to put herself in more trouble in the seventh, but she also fanned Bethany Neal and Brittany Hilton before throwing out Armstrong at the plate on a bases-loaded come-backer to end it.

“That was getting a little intense,” Hutchinson said. “I knew where the ball had to go.”

Gray, a sophomore, scattered four hits, struck out four and allowed only one earned run in 6 1/3 innings.

Two fielder’s choices that didn’t retire anyone, a double steal and Dani Tompkins’ sacrifice fly gave Dirigo a 2-0 lead in the first. Lola swiped third and home to halve Monmouth’s deficit in the bottom of the inning.

In the second, Lanette Bryant and Russell both singled before scoring on a throwing error.

“Monmouth’s always had a great softball program,” said Dirigo coach Gavin Kane. “To get a win on the road in our opening game is a super start for us.”

Lola scored on a misplayed fly ball off Morin’s bat in the seventh.

The game was moved up a day to avoid Friday’s expected heavy rain.

“I’m glad the (athletic directors) took a look at the forecast and allowed us to get this one in,” said Kane, whose Cougars are scheduled to play four games next week.


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