BUCKFIELD — Through two East-West Conference meetings this year, Buckfield pitchers have been extra careful with Richmond junior Sydney Underhill-Tilton.

In the first softball meeting between the two rivals in early May, Underhill-Tilton was intentionally walked three times, and in the rematch on Tuesday, Bucks hurler Abby Shields through four pitches well outside in the slugger’s first at-bat.

But, in the third, with two outs and nobody on, Buckfield coach Sandy Albert decided to have Shields pitch to Underhill-Tilton. That turned out to be a big mistake as the righty launched an opposite field home run to start the Bobcats on their way to a 12-1 victory.

“I was frustrated. They walked me, and it was one in my wheelhouse and I just hit the ball,” Underhill-Tilton said. “It is always hard at Buckfield, but keeping the energy going all game long was huge for us.”

“It is not easy to keep her patient,” Richmond coach Tony Martin said. “Syd hits the ball hard, and teams pitch around her. What she does for us is huge. They gave her one pitch and she hit that line shot.”

“There were two outs, nobody on base. After she hit it, I was sick. She is such a great player,” Albert said.

The home run was just the start of things for the Bobcats, who scored two runs in the fourth, six in the fifth and three more in the seventh. Richmond pounded out 12 hits and took advantage of nine Buckfield errors.

“They are a great team. You can make a couple mistakes, but they take advantage of most of them and today they did,” said Albert.

Through two innings, Richmond struggled with the lefty Shields. She held the Bobcats to just one hit and worked around a pair of defensive miscues to keep the visitors off the board.

Underhill-Tilton’s home run seemed to rattle the Bucks, and RBIs by Meranda Martin and Camryn Hurley in the fourth made for a 3-0 contest.

Buckfield (11-2) found some life in the fourth as Hannah Shields launched a home run off of Meranda Martin well past the left-field fence to get the Bucks on the board.

“I took advantage of the pitch and hit it as hard as I could,” Hannah Shields said.

For Richmond, it took a turn through the batting order to figure out Abby Shields, who was forced into mound action with injuries to pitchers Julia Dow and Maggie Bragg.

“It took us once through the lineup before we started hitting the ball and taking that extra base when you can,” Coach Martin said. “We wanted to be aggressive and make them make plays. We had some nice solid line drives to the outfield.”

Richmond put the game away in the fifth. Cassidy Harriman (2-for-5) singled and an error on an Emily Douin bunt allowed Harriman to race all the way around the bases to score. Bryanne Lancaster singled, Mackenzie Abbott (2-for-4) doubled to right field and Kaylee Williams (2-for-4) brought two Richmond runs home on a single for an 8-1 contest.

Camryn Hurley (2-for-4) launched an RBI triple and scored on a ground ball by Caitlin Kendrick to complete the big frame.

Buckfield committed three errors in the fifth and four more in the seventh when the Bobcats tacked on three more runs on one hit — a Kendrick RBI single.

Meranda Martin was stellar on the mound. She struck out four, walked two and allowed just the one hit. She adjusted well from the last meeting with Buckfield where she gave up eight hits in Richmond’s 8-1 win.

“We are working on placement, ‘what we did last time and what we should do this time,’” said Underhill-Tilton, who catches for the senior pitcher. “We talk a lot about mental stuff, and once you have the mentality of working with what they are giving you, then things are a bit easier.”

Abby Shields struck out three and walked four, all intentional free passes to Underhill-Tilton. Of the 12 runs Richmond scored, only five were earned.

“Abby did a great job all day, we just made some errors,” said Albert, whose Bucks are slated to host Traip Academy on Wednesday.

Richmond, winners of 84 consecutive games, returns to action on Friday at Valley (4 p.m.).


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