MONMOUTH – For once, the Monmouth Academy softball team was glad that it rained.

During this water-soaked spring season, the Mustangs have been hampered by a lack of quality practice time.

“Tuesday was our third practice on this field,” Monmouth coach Rachel Bernier said of her club’s home turf. “We haven’t had a lot of practices out here. It’s been tough.”

Making it that much harder, between makeup games and various opponents, the Mustangs have not had time to properly prepare for some of its tougher games, but Wednesday’s rain allowed for that luxury.

The Mustangs made that pay off with a 6-0 victory over Jay on Thursday. The Tigers (9-2) were ranked third in the latest Western C Heals.

“This is such a big win for us,” said shortstop Jenn Lola. “We’ve been struggling the last couple of games. We just knew we had to win this game.”

Monmouth (6-4) broke open a scoreless tie with five runs in the fourth inning. The Mustangs, ranked sixth in the latest standings, took advantage of a two-run error and a three-run homer by Lola.

“We took the approach today that we needed this win and that we had to take care of our own destiny, and they did it,” said Bernier.

Monmouth pitcher Brittany Hilton scattered five hits and struck out 10 while walking two.

“She pitched very, very well,” said Bernier. “She had that mental toughness and made sure the ball was around the plate so her defense could help her out.”

Jay had the chance to take the lead early, but failed to produce. Kaylie DeMillo led off the game with a double, but was later thrown out trying to steal third. In the second, the Tigers got a one-out single from Liz LeBlanc, but she was stranded at second. In the fourth, Emily Boivin and Katie Hall led off with walks, and LeBlanc singled to load the bases with one out. Monmouth escaped the threat with a nice play at second by Kara Strout on a throw to the plate on a Kristen Adams grounder. Hilton then retired Zena Armandi on a ball hit back to the mound.

“We didn’t do the small things at the beginning of the game,” Jay coach Robin Roberts said. “We had some bunts that were missed when we had runners on. It would have been a different game if we had some runs on them.”

Instead, it was Monmouth that struck first against Jay’s Alexii Smith. In the fourth, Alyssa Morin and Hilton each singled, and Sami Fairchild was hit by a pitch. With one out, Bethany Neal’s fly to right was dropped, allowing pinch runners Jess Gray and Courtney McFerren to score. After a second out, Lola drilled a shot over the fence in left for a 5-0 lead.

“I’ve been swinging like I’m trying to kill the ball the last couple of games,” said Lola. “Coach just told me that I needed to relax and put the bat on the ball. She said she pitches fast enough and I was strong enough that all I needed to do was make contact.”

Jill Armstrong singled in Fairchild in the sixth.

“We need to keep growing,” said Bernier, whose team faces Lisbon and Georges Valley next. “It doesn’t get any easier.”


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