Buckfield firstbaseman Mackenzie Richardson catches Rangeley’s Olivia Pye off first base to record an out during Tuesday’s softball game in Buckfield.

BUCKFIELD — Buckfield had one pitcher knocked out over the weekend, and another got knocked out in the first inning Tuesday against Rangeley.

So on came the Bucks’ third option, a player who hadn’t pitched all year. And while Abby Shields wasn’t perfect in the circle, neither were the visiting Lakers, who lost a pair of leads while Buckfield’s bats started to heat up in a 20-9 victory for the Bucks in a Class D South softball game.

“We needed her to throw strikes, and she did,” Buckfield coach Sandy Albert said. “We told her to just go in and throw strikes, and just let your defense work. She did pretty well doing that.”

Maggie Bragg started the game pitching for the Bucks (10-1) — in place of injured ace Julia Dow — but the Lakers (5-4) jumped on her early by staying patient, drawing five walks in eight at-bats to force Albert to make a switch.

Shields, a senior with pitching experience but none this season, toed the rubber with a 4-0 deficit and the bases loaded, but got out of the jam with a strikeout and a 9-3 put-out.

“You let a team get up 4-0, you really have to dig in and get them back,” Albert said.

The Bucks started digging immediately.

Kali Litchfield led off the bottom of the first by reaching on one of 11 Rangeley errors, then Cassidy Hart and Hannah Shields followed with singles. Two runs scored on the first of three hits for Hannah Shields, then two more scored in the inning on wild pitches.

“When you make (11) errors in a game, you basically just — you’re giving runs up,” Rangeley coach Chip Smith said. “I said going into this year, we’ve always had a pretty good hitting ball club for the past few years. We strive at that. But we’ve always struggled defensively.”

The Lakers re-gained their lead in the top of the second, taking advantage of three hit batters by Shields, plus a walk and two singles, to score three runs. But a double play on an infield fly ended the threat.

“Base running errors hurt us. The infield fly rule really hurt us,” Smith said. “That took a run away. I think the door was open, and we just didn’t take advantage.”

Buckfield cut into the lead with two runs in the second. Hannah Shields had the lone hit off Sydney Royce in the inning, but two walks and two errors made their mark.

“Our pitcher pitched very well,” Smith said. “She can’t get 11 more outs on her own.”

Shields threw the first (and only) 1-2-3 inning of the game in the top of the third, though it was nontraditional, with a lead-off error followed by a double play. Then the Bucks tied the game in the bottom of the frame with a Mackenzie Richardson single, a walk, and a wild pitch.

The Laker offense stayed quiet in the top of the fourth. The Buck bats stayed loud in the bottom.

Hannah Shields popped out leading off — the first and only time she was retired in the game — but the next four batters all reached, on singles by Carley Trimm and Abby Fogg, a walk by Abby Shields, and a two-run single from Molly Bourget. Another run scored on an error to put the Bucks ahead for the first time, 10-7, and for good.

Walks, errors and wild pitches helped lead to two more Buckfield runs in the fifth, along with an RBI single by Fogg, to make it 12-7.

The Lakers cut it to 12-9 when their offense woke back up in the sixth. Amber Morrill was hit by a pitch leading off, then Tasha Haley and Royce hit consecutive singles to load the bases. Runs came in on a sacrifice grounder and a sacrifice fly.

That gave Rangeley some hope, but that was soon wiped away in the bottom half of the inning. The first 10 Buckfield batters of the frame all reached, including Hannah Shields with a bases-loaded triple. The Lakers got their first out of the inning by gunning down Hart at home on the play, but that didn’t stop the Bucks from continuing to roll. Shield’s three-bagger was the last hit for Buckfield, but three walks and four errors make up the rest of the offense, which put together eight runs to make it 20-9.

“It was awesome, because then you can just go in in the seventh and have no pressure,” Albert said. “A one-run game can be pressure, and sometimes you can make a mistake. When you have a cushion, then it’s easier to just finish the game out.

“Hannah hit that triple with the bases loaded, that kind of helped the process.”

The teams play again on Friday, and Smith said he’s looking forward to having his team have Tuesday’s loss fresh in its mind.

“To compete with them through a few innings was okay. Now what do we take from it, and learn from it, and hopefully compete through seven innings and have a good game on Friday,” Smith said.

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Scenes from Tuesday afternoon’s softball game between Rangeley and Buckfield.Buckfield’s Cassidy Hart, right, holds off on swinging on a low pitch as teammates watch from the dugout, left, during Tuesday’s game in Buckfield.Buckfield’s Abby Fogg dives back to first base before Rangeley’s Amber Morrill can put the tag on her during Tuesday’s softball game in Buckfield.Scenes from Tuesday afternoon’s softball game between Rangeley and Buckfield.Scenes from Tuesday afternoon’s softball game between Rangeley and Buckfield.Scenes from Tuesday afternoon’s softball game between Rangeley and Buckfield.Scenes from Tuesday afternoon’s softball game between Rangeley and Buckfield.Scenes from Tuesday afternoon’s softball game between Rangeley and Buckfield.Scenes from Tuesday afternoon’s softball game between Rangeley and Buckfield.Scenes from Tuesday afternoon’s softball game between Rangeley and Buckfield.Scenes from Tuesday afternoon’s softball game between Rangeley and Buckfield.Scenes from Tuesday afternoon’s softball game between Rangeley and Buckfield.


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