Oxford Hills’ Brooke Carson slides sucessfully into second base past Edward Little’s Taylor Depot during a softball game in Paris on Monday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

PARIS — Edward Little and Oxford Hills both kept waiting for the next hit to come, but the big, rallying knock never did for the Red Eddies.

The Vikings kept the visitors at just enough of a distance, then gave themselves some added breathing room late for a 6-2 victory in a Class A North softball game at Gouin Athletic Complex on Monday.

“It really helped that (we got three runs in the fifth),” Vikings coach Cindy Goddard said. “That was kind of like the ‘can take a little bit deeper breath’ because EL was knocking at the door all the time, with probably more opportunities to score than we did.”

Oxford Hills (11-2) saw its 3-1 lead chopped in half in the top of the fifth when the Red Eddies (8-6) got consecutive two-out singles from Taylor Depot and Chantel Ouellette to score Emmy Lashua.

The Vikings answered in the bottom half against EL reliever Hannah Smith. Madi Starbird bunted for a hit with one out, starting a string of four straight batters reaching (Madison Day hit-by-pitch, Kenzie Kahkonen RBI single, Lauren N. Merrill two-run double).

“We actually faced (Smith) last time, and she did a really nice job against us, so it was nice to see them kind of step up and take care of it,” Goddard said.

“That was the game plan I had beforehand. Sometimes things work for you, sometimes they don’t, but I need to know where we’re going to be in two weeks (when playoffs start),” EL coach Elaine Derosby said. “It had nothing to do with the way Chantel was pitching, or the way they were hitting, it was a decision that I had made coming into the game.”

The Vikings collected five hits off Ouellette in four innings, each one coming after Ouellette retired the first five batters of the game with relative ease. Kaisa Heikkinen looped a triple into deep right with two outs in the second, then Kori Kahkonen followed with a hard single on the ground to score the game’s first run.

The Red Eddies responded in the top of the third to tie the game. Lashua and Grace Beaudet started the inning off with consecutive singles, then they both moved up a base on Jordan Cummings’ sacrifice bunt. Taylor Depot grounded into a fielder’s choice that held Lashua at third but loaded the bases, then Ouellette drove her in with a sacrifice fly.

“Chantel came up and did what she needed to do,” Derosby said. “And it’s different people every game. So every game someone is stepping up to the plate, or stepping into the field, and doing what they need to do. (But) we got to be top-to-bottom.”

A pop-up in foul territory ended any further threat for Merrill on the mound.

Oxford Hills got its one-run lead back in the bottom of the third. Day hit a two-out single to drive in Brooke Carson, who had singled two batters earlier before stealing both second and third. The Vikings added another run in the fourth when Merrill led off the inning by reaching on an error and eventually scored on a Haley Dillingham infield single.

Unlike the Vikings, the Red Eddies didn’t have as much luck hitting with two outs and runners in scoring position. They missed opportunities in both the first and second, and got just one run each with quality chances in the third and fifth. A lead-off single in the fourth also didn’t materialize into anything.

“They’re a loose group, and so I think they just felt that their chances would come, and that they were just going to work hard for each other,” Derosby said. “They weren’t frustrated, necessarily. I think it made them turn a little bit more to, you know, ‘We got to think that this is a 0-0 game’ — they kept saying that in the dugout — and that, ‘We just need to work one inning at a time.'”

“I think they were just waiting for their opportunities to come,” Derosby added.

Merrill, who Goddard said didn’t have her “A-game,” pitched a perfect sixth before Sydney Crocker came in and did the same thing in the seventh.

Smith fared better in her second inning of work in the sixth. A leadoff error was negated by a double play turned by the EL defense.

“We’ve got a couple more weeks, and we’re using every moment — including myself — to figure out what we want to do in two weeks, and what our game plan is on that first day of the playoffs. So every piece for me at this point is, ‘What can we use to make ourselves better?'” Derosby said. “We have to be better.”

The Vikings — coming off three road games in three days at the end of last week, which included a close loss to Skowhegan — had to turn the page quickly Monday for what Goddard called a “big game.” It wasn’t a vintage performance, by any means, in Goddard’s eyes, but it was a win.

“I think we’re pretty lucky to be coming out with a ‘W,’ really. It could have gone either way at any point in time, easily,” Goddard said. “One big hit and they could have easily been up.”

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Oxford Hills’ Kaisa Heikkinen prepares to tag out Edward Little’s Abby Russell during a softball game in Paris on Monday. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)


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