Mt. Blue base runner Macey Phillips, right, slides into the plate on a wild pitch during the Cougars’ eight-run fifth inning at Brunswick on Friday. Dragons pitcher Shea Sullivan (3) awaits the throw. Mt. Blue rallied from a six-run deficit for a 9-8 KVAC win. (Bob Conn/Brunswick Times Record)

BRUNSWICK — The opening games of the Brunswick High School softball season have been a struggle.

In five contests, the Dragons had five 12-run mercy-rule losses heading into Friday’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference home matchup with Mt. Blue.

There was no where to go but up for Brunswick, and the Dragons showed promise in a tight 9-8 setback to the Cougars.

In a game it led 6-0, Brunswick watched as Mt. Blue, after going four innings with only one hit (a Sam Ellis bunt single), put together six hits and scored eight runs to get off the mat.

Brunswick battled back with two runs in the home half of the fifth to tie it, but the Cougars plated the winning run in the top of the seventh for a 4-2 start to the season.

“This was a big game, both how we played and where we have come from. They were thrilled to be able to play this way,” Brunswick coach Hugh Dwyer said. “We thought the beginning of the year that we would grow from last year, with me trying to ignore the fact that we graduated eight seniors. That is a lot to ask.”

Tied 8-8 in the seventh inning, Mt. Blue’s Maddy Smith was hit by a Shea Sullivan pitch. Pinch runner Amelia Frederic hustled to third on a ringing double by No. 9 hitter Ashley Wiles and scored on a ground ball by Ellis.

Earlier, it was Wiles who started Mt. Blue’s rally. Down by six, she led off the fifth inning with a long double to center field.

“She went to the plate determined,” Cougars coach Ron Smith said. “She said she had made a couple of mistakes in the field, and her swing was good. She wasn’t pressing or lunging at the ball and saw a pitch she could handle.”

“The first four innings, it took us a little bit to wake up, but we were able to get the win,” said Wiles, who was 2-for-4. “I knew we needed something to wake us up, so I went up to the plate and felt confident.”

The fifth inning was a learning experience for the Dragons.

“When you get into a losing mentality, that is an awful huge weight to carry around,” Dwyer said. “In that half inning, we didn’t believe that we could play like we did the other innings. It is a big hurdle. We are a lot better than how it shows. We don’t dwell on that, we just learn from it and use it as a springboard.”

Brunswick took advantage of two Mt. Blue errors in the opening frame to grab a 1-0 lead. Hannah Fortier reached, went to second on a wild pitch and scored when Sullivan ripped a single to right-center field.

The Dragons put together their biggest inning to date in the third, scoring four runs to take a 5-0 lead. Tianna Bernier walked and stole second. She moved to third on an infield single by Fortier and scored when Sullivan’s ground ball was misplayed for Mt. Blue’s third error. Fortier trotted home on a sacrifice fly ball by Sabrina Armstrong, and Sullivan made it 4-0 when she scored on a Maddy Smith wild pitch.

“We just couldn’t wake up. We were making mental errors and they were good enough to take advantage,” Ron Smith said.

Wiles’ first double in the fifth was followed by singles from Ellis, Rylee Briggs and Jacelyn Daggett to make for a 6-2 contest. Back-to-back errors by the Dragons scored two more runs, and Adelle Foss stroked a two-run single to center field to tie the game. Grace Foss added an RBI groundout, and pinch runner Gianna Kennedy scored on a wild pitch to complete the eight-run uprising.

Brunswick didn’t fold, tying the game with two runs in the home half of the fifth on three straight two-out hits. Armstrong singled and stole two bases, Plourde delivered her second RBI with a double, and Bailey Hartill evened things with a single.

“We had one bad inning, and we know that we could have beat them,” said Plourde, who was 1-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored. “We grew a lot. We now know that we can beat a good team.”

Still, Mt. Blue, which finished with nine hits, found a way, winning a third game late.

“They are the heartbreak kids right now. Of our four wins, all but one of them we won in the fifth, sixth or seventh inning,” Ron Smith said.

Ellis, Wiles and Daggett were each 2-for-4 to lead the Cougar offense, while Hartill was the lone repeat hitter for Brunswick. Maddy Smith picked up the win, going the distance on six hits, five strikeouts and one walk.

Sullivan took the loss for the Dragons on nine hits, two walks, two hit batters and a strikeout.

Mt. Blue right fielder Sam Ellis stumbles while coming up with a Brunswick base hit during Friday’s KVAC clash in Brunswick. The Cougars won 9-8 to improve to 4-2. (Bob Conn/Brunswick Times Record)