Her Dirigo softball team loaded the bases in the top of the first but instead of breaking the game open early, Monmouth held the Cougars to just one run. It was a close game the rest of the way, but that was okay by Olsen.

“Those are the fun games for me as a pitcher,” Olsen said. “I think those are fun. Pitching battles are the best.”

The Cougars’ senior pitcher finished with a one-hitter and struck out nine to lead Dirigo to an opening day 4-3 win over the Mustangs. The Cougars built a 3-0 lead early but Monmouth got within a run twice.

“From the past games that we’ve had with Monmouth, I knew they were going to come back and that it would be a good game,” Olsen said.

Monmouth pitcher Katie Canning gave up just four hits, two to Emma Lueders. She struckout 10. The Mustangs were already without two regulars to injury while two other starters began the game on the bench.

“Our infield and our catchers were all freshmen with one sophomore,” Monmouth coach Dave Kaplan said. “We made some young mistakes. Those are hopefully mistakes we won’t make at the end of the year. I saw some good things from the young players today.”

Lueders led off the game with a single and Dirigo loaded the bases with a walk and a hit batter. The Cougars’ lone run came when Olsen was hit by a pitch, plating Lueders. Canning struck out the next two batters to escape the threat.

“I thought they were going to break the game open early and cruise,” Kaplan said. “The kids hung in there. I couldn’t be more proud of them. We had a shot at it in the end.”

Dirigo added to the lead with a run on a Mariah Lafleur fielder’s choice in the third and a Kenzie Lord RBI single in the fourth.

Monmouth rallied in the bottom of the inning. The Mustangs took advantage of two walks and an error allowing Hannah Anderson and Canning to score.

“It’s nice having some veteran players,” Dirigo coach Sarah Thurston said. “They can handle themselves very well in that situation. It also meant that our new players were getting to work through it with so much support from the upperclassmen.”

Dirigo made it 4-2 in the fourth when Summer Bradbury doubled. Lord had a fielder’s choice that plated Lillie Williams. Monmouth got the lead runner on with an error in the bottom of the sixth. Mariah Herr scored on a wild pitch, but Monmouth stranded two runners after Abby Ferland walked and Mikayla Cameron singled with two outs.

Though Monmouth stayed within reach when Ferland, the catcher, and Herr, at first, teamed up for a double play to end the top of the seventh. In the bottom of the inning, Olsen put down the Mustangs in order.

“The first inning I was a little shaky but by the third or fourth inning, I knew I needed to do what the team needed,” Olsen said. “And I did it.”

Dirigo lost to Monmouth 8-5 in last year’s quarterfinals. So it was a nice start for the Cougars Friday.

“We did a lot of work in the preseason but you don’t know how it’s going to match up with the teams in our conference that you’re going to play against,” Thurston said. “It’s great to be able to come out and work through some tough spots and have it turn out on the top end.”

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