BETHEL — They had them right where they wanted them.

Telstar Regional High School softball coach Jim Lunney was trying to convince his team of that Friday. Down a run with six outs left, he wanted his Rebels to believe they were in the perfect position against Oak Hill.

“We had the top of the order up. We were down a run,” Lunney said. “If we scored two runs there and hold them, we’d take the game.”

The Rebels proved their coached right. Telstar erupted for eight runs in the sixth inning to rally past the Raiders for an 8-1 victory in Mountain Valley Conference softball. It was the fifth straight win for the Rebels.

“The door opens with a base hit and we got two ‘tweeners and they had a few errors,” Lunney said. “We hit balls in between them and it just snowballed.”

Telstar (11-2)  produced four hits and took advantage of four Oak Hill errors in that decisive inning. The Raiders (8-5) had held Telstar to just four hits through the first five innings.

“It was just a sheer meltdown,” said Oak Hill coach Allyson Collins, whose team has now lost two straight after winning seven consecutive games. “We played five great innings of ball and then it was just mental mistakes after mental mistakes, which we haven’t dealt with a lot this year. You’ve got to play seven and kudos to them for capitalizing on every single one.”

Becca Howard led Telstar, seeded third in Western C, with three hits, and Vanessa Godwin had a pair and drove in a run. The biggest hit came from Haley Peterson. She had a two-run single in the sixth that plated the winning-run. She also had a number of stellar running catches in center field.

“I had faith in my team,” Peterson said. “We really pulled together. I knew we had it in us. I knew once we started going, we’d be able to rally. The other team played an awesome game, and we just got a good break.”

Makayla Nadeau, Brooke Surette and Iris Abbott each had a pair of hits for the Raiders. Kayla Veilleux drove in Oak Hill’s only run. The Raiders produced 10 hits but left nine people on base, many of them at third.

“We stranded a ton of runners,” Collins said. “That could have changed the game right there. That could have changed the momentum, but  we just couldn’t seem to get one across the plate. We got the one and that was it. We stranded way too many baserunners.”

The bottom of the sixth began when Sadie Ellsworth reached on an error. Howard had an infield hit and Tehya Johnson was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

“Coach pulled me over and told me ‘You’ve got this. You’ve got to hit a ground ball or a line drive,'” Peterson said. “I just got up there with all the confidence I could have. I knew I had to accomplish what he asked me.”

Her hard single plated two runs. Lisa Gammon followed with a fielder’s choice that made it 3-1. Godwin had an infield hit that scored another run. Ashley Savage’s RBI single was misplayed in the outfield, allowing two more runs for a 7-1 lead. An error on an Ellsworth fly plated the final run.

“It was 4-1 and I was like ‘There’s some insurance runs. I think I can go out and work with that.'” pitcher Oliva York said. “Then we got some more.”

It was a pitchers’ duel early. Oak Hill’s Sadie Goulet and Telstar’s York each had superb outings and battled hard. Goulet struck out four and walked just one while York struck out five and walked one. Both pitchers worked their way out of jams and kept the game close.

“Today was hard,” York said. “They came here ready to hit. At first, it was hard to stay in it mentally. My Dad couldn’t make it today, and he’s my biggest supporter. It was hard without someone like him to reassure me the whole time, but we made it.”

Oak Hill, seeded 10th in Western B,  put runners on in each of the first four innings. Grace Sabine singled in the first and couldn’t advance. Abbott doubled in the third and was left at third. Emma Hlister had a one-out triple in the third but was stranded.

“It was hard to stay composed,” York said. “I’d say I had a little bit of an off day hitting corners. I didn’t do as well as I usually do. They were hitting even when I did hit the corners.”

The Raiders got the lead in the fourth when Nadeau doubled. She was sacrificed to third by Goulet and scored on a fielder’s choice by Veilleux. Oak Hill then had three straight hits by Abbott, Surette and Sara Noel, but the Raiders left the bases loaded when York got an inning-ending strikeout.

Surette tripled with two outs in the sixth, but York got another key strikeout to end the threat.

Telstar had a chance in the fourth with the bases loaded with one out, but Goulet summoned up a shallow fly to right that Abbott caught and fired home to keep a runner at third. Then Goulet struck out a batter for the final out.

“We had opportunities,” Lunney said. “Their pitcher threw a good game. They have good arms in the outfield and good arms in the infield. That’s a good team, and we were fortunate to have that inning.”

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