JAY — Slowly but surely, the Spruce Mountain softball team is getting up to full strength.

Between vacations, injuries and school issues, the Phoenix have not had a full roster all year, but Tuesday, Spruce Mountain had most everyone back.

“We’re down to two,” Spruce Mountain coach Clint Brooks said. “At one point, we were without six. So things are beginning to fall into place.”

The Phoenix opened the season with three straight wins but have dropped their last two, including Tuesday’s 8-5 game to Mount View. Spruce was without two starters, including its pitcher but gave the Mustangs a battle.

The Phoenix rallied from behind to take a 4-3 lead in the fourth but watched the Mustangs score three in the fifth and two in the sixth to open the lead. 

“I really felt good about this game,” Brooks said. “I told the kids that it’s hard to lose and say that you feel good about it. What I wanted to take away from this game is that we’re not outclassed by anybody in this league anymore. Last year was a learning experience for us. We came out in some games not knowing what to expect and there were some games in which we had the deer in the headlights look. This year, it seems like we’re coming out with some confidence.”

Sophomore Morgan Dalton made her varsity debut and scattered 10 hits. She battled hard and gave the Phoenix a chance. The Phoenix also had some great plays in the field from shortstop Grace Ryan and third baseman Hailee Perkins. Catcher Julie Doiron had some nice plays behind the plate as well.

“This is her first varsity game that she’s ever pitched,” Brooks said. “I thought she pitched pretty well. I thought she really held it together well.”

She was up against senior hurler Krysta Porter, who allowed nine hits and was supported by some great defense as well. Abby Smith was solid at third while shortstop Taylor Shunk made a nice leaping catch and leftfielder Sierra Fonger had a nice running catch.-

“The defense stepped up huge,” Mount View coach Mark Bennett said. “My pitcher battled and threw a lot of strikes. There weren’t a lot of walks. They were making plays in the field. The nice thing is that I think every one of my kids made a play today. (Spruce Mountain) seems to be a good hitting team and hit the ball all over the place, from foul line to foul line. It’s nice that every kid got to participate on defense.”

Though the Phoenix rallied from a 3-0 deficit with four runs on four Mustang errors in the fourth, Mount View settled down and retook the lead and finished strong.

“We just wanted to fight through it,” Porter said. “We knew they were a good team. We just needed to push through. We’re definitely contenders this year. We just have to get our minds into the game.”

Fonger, Porter and Brittany Dugal each had two hits for Mount View (3-2) while Smith had a hit and two RBI. Spruce Mountain (3-2)  got two hits each from Haley Turcotte, Ryan and Kaylee Leclerc.

“I told the kids that we hit as well as we’ve hit the ball all year,” Brooks said. “I think we had two strikeouts for the game, and that’s great. Everyone down to the eight or nine spots got the bat on the ball.”

Down 3-0 in the bottom of the fourth, the Phoenix rallied to take a 4-3 lead. Mount View had four errors while the Phoenix had a pair of hits in the inning. Emily Hogan drove in the first run with a fielder’s choice. Then Hannah St. Pierre singled in a run. A single by Turcotte led to a pair of errors that allowed two runs to score. Then Julie Doiron singled in Turcotte for the lead.

“We definitely knew this was going to be a big game for us,” Porter said. “So we just got it in our heads that we needed to all be focused and stay right in the game the whole entire time.”

The Mustangs got the lead back in the fifth. A Porter single and an error plated the tying run. An infield hit by Shunk scored one run and when the Phoenix didn’t pay attention to Porter at third, she raced home for the 6-4 lead.

“We made mistakes,” said Brooks, who has numerous freshmen and sophomores in the lineup. “I think we probably will for awhile.”

Allison Acritelli singled in a run in the fifth, but Smith singled in a pair to make it 8-5 in the sixth. Spruce Mountain got a single from Ryan and a double from Leclerc in the seventh, but Porter was able to get the final out.

Mount View built the 3-0 lead with single runs in three of the first four innings. Ryleigh Lord scored on a wild pitch in the first. Fonger doubled in a run after a Phoenix error extended the second inning. Shunk made it 3-0 with a fielder’s choice in the fourth.

“I had some kids get some really good hits,” Bennett said. “My lineup did hit the ball pretty good and ran the bases pretty good.”

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