Oxford Hills pitcher Lauren Merrill delivers a pitch during Wednesday’s softball game against Lewiston. Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham

LEWISTON — The way Oxford Hills has been swinging the bat this season, the start to Wednesday’s game at Lewiston was a little surprising.

Through the first 11 batters the Vikings had only one hit, but then five base hits in a row that helped them break the game open enough in a 6-1 KVAC victory at Fleurette Roux Bannon Softball Field.

“Our coach was saying in the circle at the end of the game that she was getting a little nervous because of it, because we didn’t start up like we should have,” Oxford Hills junior pitcher Lauren Merrill said.

The Vikings (9-0) did get a run in the third, with Isabella DeVivo reaching on an infield single and later scored on a throw-down to first base after a wild-pitch strike three.

But Blue Devils (5-4) sophomore starter Isabelle Cormier otherwise kept the Vikings off-balance the first time through the batting order.

It was a bunt single by Merrill in the fourth, according to Oxford Hills coach Cindy Goddard, that was the key to the Vikings’ three-run frame that helped them take control.

Madison Day, who reached on a double, scored on Merrill’s squeeze bunt that dribbled perfectly to the right side of the infield. Kori Kahkonen and Haileigh Sawyer both singled, with Sawyer driving in Merrill before getting tagged out at second trying to stretch her hit into a double. Kahkonen later came home on a wild pitch before Ashley Childs doubled, moved to third on a wild pitch and was left stranded there.

“I thought really the key was Lauren Merrill’s bunt to kind of get things going, because if we can’t hit we usually try to go to the bunting game,” Goddard said. “And then after we got that kind of run, we kind of relaxed, and then I think the second time around then we started to get some more solid hits.”

The Vikings added two more runs in the fifth to take a 6-0 lead. Brooke Carson singled, Day reached on an error that scored Carson, and Merrill singled home Day.

Oxford Hills’ Madison Day watches her hit bounce off the heel of the glove of Lewiston’s Charlotte Cloutier during Wednesday’s softball game in Lewiston. Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham

Oxford Hills’ Madison Day watches her hit bounce off the heel of the glove of Lewiston’s Charlotte Cloutier during Wednesday’s softball game in Lewiston. Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham

The Lewiston offense had trouble putting anything together against Merrill. Jordyn Rubin in the first and Gemma Landry in the third both had two-out singles, but otherwise Merrill retired 15 of the 17 batters she faced in her five innings of work. She struck out four and didn’t walk a batter.

“Definitely my curveball was working, and also my inside pitch. I was jamming them a lot with some groundballs and things, which was working good,” Merrill said. “My defense worked well with me.”

The Blue Devils were able to put a run on the board in the sixth against reliever Kiara McLeod. Landry singled with one out, Charlotte Cloutier followed with a fielder’s choice grounder and beat a double-play throw to first, then Rubin doubled her home.

“I have all the confidence in the world in my team. Even when we’re down, even when we’re up, you know, no matter what. I like to let them hit. They’re all strong hitters, so I wasn’t worried,” Lewiston coach Ryan Cormier said.

Oxford Hills first baseman Brooke Carson snags a sharply hit line drive for the last out of Wednesday’s game against Lewiston in Lewiston. Sun Journal photo by Russ Dillingham

Landry pitched the final two innings for Lewiston and walked two batters but didn’t allow a hit.

“It was good. Gemma came in and did her job, as well. She shut them down,” Cormier said. “That was good to keep us around and keep us in the game to continue to fight.”

In the bottom of the seventh, McLeod worked around a lead-off grounder by Skylar Gelinas that led to an error and a Kallie May grounder that turned into a fielder’s choice. A groundout and then a line-out ended the game.

“I thought Lewiston played a great game today,” Goddard said. “The center fielder (Rubin) made some great catches, shortstop (Landry, then Cormier) made some good plays. So they looked like a good, solid team. So I expect they’re just only going to get better for the next time around.”

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