BUCKFIELD — What began as a pitcher’s duel Saturday quickly evolved into a softball slugfest.

And it was the one-two punch of Mackenzie Richardson and Kali Litchfield that delivered the knockout blows in the final at-bat.

Down by two runs entering the bottom of the seventh inning, Buckfield rallied for a thrilling 8-7 win over Traip. Richardson had the game-tying two-run double and Litchfield followed with a game-winning RBI single.

“Every time I get up to bat, I’m thinking about making contact with the ball,” Litchfield said. “That’s what I try to do. I’m pretty good about making contact.”

Traip was coming off a 16-4 win over a shorthanded Class B York team in which sophomore pitcher Reilly Eddy struck out 10. It took time for the Bucks to figure out the Traip hurler, but the Bucks rallied twice in the final two innings.

“We hit at the key times,” Buckfield coach Sandy Albert said. “We have hitters from No. 1 to No. 9. It’s deceiving because people are like, ‘It’s the bottom of the lineup’ but they came through when they needed to. They got some really key hits.”

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Litchfield led the Bucks (3-1) with three hits and the winning RBI. Hannah Shields had a pair of hits and drove in three runs. Richardson drove in a pair with one hit. Bri Damon also had two hits in a 10-hit attack for the Bucks.

“She was a little faster and it took a little time to get used to it,” Richardson said of Eddy.

Traip had taken the lead in the seventh with three runs . Cecelia Driscoll doubled in a pair and Eddy followed with a double that made it 7-5. After already having to rally from a 5-4 deficit, the two-run hole seemed formidable, but not to the Bucks.

“We did pretty well in the other innings,” said Litchfield, a junior third baseman. “Once we got down, we got back up and got back the lead. So I wasn’t too worried. We didn’t have too many outs at the end. So I knew we could pull it off in the end.”

Many of the runs came after the pitching and defense opened the door. That was the case again for the Bucks in the bottom of the seventh. Abby Shields reached first on a dropped third strike. Then Abby Fogg reached on an error.

“You start to get your hopes up a little bit more,” Litchfield said. “You get pumped up and get ready to hit it out there and do what we did.”

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Richardson, a sophomore who started a comeback in the sixth when she was hit by a pitch, delivered a two-run double that tied it.

“I just had to hit the ball,” Richardson said. “It was nerve-wracking. It was scary. I had to calm down and do it.”

Eddy got the first out of the inning with a strike out, her 12th. Litchfield followed with a single up the middle. Litchfield was the No. 9 hitter for the Bucks.

“It was a little scary,” Litchfield said of the two-run deficit. “Some people might have had their heads down a little bit, but once we got the bats going, we got right back up there.”

Jess Segura led Traip with three hits and two RBI. Driscoll also drove in a pair with two hits.

The Rangers (1-1) rallied first after the Bucks built a 3-0 lead. Hannah Shields singled in a run in the third and Abby Shields walked with the bases loaded for a 2-0 lead. Then in the fourth, Alexis Bennett’s fielder’s choice bunt plated Litchfield.

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Abby Shields held Traip to just two hits through the first four innings and struck out three. In the fifth, the Rangers took advantage of three errors and got the bats going. Segura had a two-run single. Then Jess MacNeill singled in a run to tie it. A hit by Driscoll and an error put Traip up 4-3.

Buckfield retook the lead in the sixth when Hannah Shields doubled in Cassidy Hart and Litchfield.

Julia Dow, who along with Hannah Shields formed an all-freshman battery for the Bucks, got the win in relief. She came on in the fifth and pitched the final two-plus innings, allowing just two hits.

It was a significant win for the Bucks against a Class C Traip team. The Rangers should win games after going 6-10 last year and returning eight starters.

“They didn’t give up,” said Albert, whose team won nine games last year and return seven upperclassmen. “It’s a different team. It’s hard to comeback after giving up two in the seventh, but they didn’t give up.”

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