Buckfield’s Maggie Bragg slides into second safely before Richmond’s Caitlin Kendrick can put the tag on her during Monday’s game in Buckfield. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Buckfield’s Cassidy Hart takes a swing at a pitch during Monday’s game in Buckfield against Richmond. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

BUCKFIELD — It takes 21 outs to win a high school softball game, but the 15th out proved to be the hardest to get for the Buckfield softball team Monday.

The Bucks were leading their rival, Richmond, by a run and needed just one more out to get out of the top of the fifth. But the Bobcats’ bats came alive and didn’t stop until Richmond was in command.

Richmond scored eight runs with two outs in the fifth, turning a one-run deficit into a seven-run lead. That gap stood, and the Bobcats escaped Buckfield with an 11-4 victory in a Class D South clash.

“You had two outs, we walked one, they got a couple hits, and when that starts happening it’s tough to get that last out, and just to dig in to get the last out,” Buckfield coach Sandy Albert said. “Got to give them some credit that they had some base hits that they needed at the right time.”

Richmond (2-0) scored a pair of runs in the top of the first, but was held quiet after that by Buckfield (3-2) starting pitcher Julia Dow, who allowed just one hit and scattered four base runners from the second inning through the fourth.

Meanwhile, the Bucks were able to create some offense early against Bobcats starter Sydney Tilton. Hannah Shields, Carly Trimm and Maggie Bragg hit consecutive singles in the first to score one run, then Cara Merrill legged out an RBI double, and Cassidy Hart followed with a bunt single to drive Merrill home to give Buckfield a 3-2 lead after two innings.

“It was working for them, and we’re not real strong. That’s something that we need to work on, defenses on bunts,” Richmond coach Tony Martin said. “And that’s just, we’re a young team, we’ve got one senior, and you know, we got a lot to work on.”

“It’s hard to field a bunt, so we had to do those things,” Albert said. “I thought we hit her pretty well. Overall we hit her pretty well. Just came up short.”

Dow gave up a pair of RBI singles to Bryannah Shea and Paige Lebel in the first, and allowed an eventually harmless single to Bryanne Lancaster in the second. The fifth inning started looking like the previous three, with Dow getting two quick outs after the leadoff batter (Caitlin Kendrick) reached base.

The third out then played hard-to-get.

Ashley Brown put a single into center to score Kendrick and tie the game. Breanna Vintinner walked, and Haley Chapman singled to right to give the Bobcats the lead.

That knocked out Dow. Merrill came on in relief, but the Bobcats’ bats didn’t stop. Five straight hits, including doubles from Tilton, Kendrick and Shea, scored six more runs.

Merrill finally got Lebel to pop out back to her to end the never-ending inning.

“We started hitting. They walked a girl there, and then we just started getting on the ball little bit and making them play. We had a couple little hits in the open areas, where they couldn’t get, and we just took advantage of it, took the extra base when we could,” Martin said. “I try to keep my girls aggressive at the plate and aggressive on the bases. (Buckfield) did the same thing, bunting early in the game. You play an aggressive game like that, and you got to make the plays.”

“I think once the wheels started coming off it that we couldn’t pull it back,” Albert said. “So we tried some different things, and moved in a different pitcher to try to get us through that inning, but that inning just eluded us.”

The Bucks nearly answered in the bottom half of the frame. Bragg and Brittany Warren hit consecutive two-out singles that eventually got them both into scoring position, but Tilton got a strikeout for the third out.

The Richmond pitcher capped off her team’s scoring with a solo home run in the top of the seventh. Back-to-back doubles by Shields and Trimm gave the Bucks a run in the bottom half, but a groundout and a ninth strikeout by Tilton ended the game.

“Our girls know it’s a rival, and Buckfield’s a great team. They got two great coaches. They’re fun to play against. We have a good time,” Martin said. “Just getting my girls to be aggressive is part of it. And they know it’s a big rival; coming over here, and they get themselves up, and we had a good game. Our girls played well and we’re very happy.”

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