Leavitt pitcher Emily Swan gets ready to throw a pitch during a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference game Thursday against Lawrence. Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn

TURNER — It’s a good thing that Leavitt got ahead early because Lawrence just wouldn’t go away.

The Hornets scored in each of the first four innings, twice held off Lawrence comebacks and scored a handful of insurance runs to hold on for a 16-9 victory in a KVAC softball game Thursday.

“We’re struggling as it is right now, and so you go out and give them the first run of the game, and all of a sudden you’re playing from behind right from the very start,” Lawrence coach Joey Marcoux said.

The Hornets (2-5) did plate a run in the bottom of the first, after Emily Swan led off with a double and scored on an error three batters later. But Leavitt left the bases loaded, squandering a chance at a bigger early lead.

Swan held the Bulldogs (2-7) hitless the first time through the order, scattering three walks over the first two innings. She then came up to bat again in the bottom of the second, and the Hornets scored four more runs on a passed ball, a wild pitch and a Carlie Leavitt two-run single to make the lead 5-0.

“The last week — of course getting everybody healthy is one thing — but the last week has been really encouraging because there haven’t been too many 1-2-3 outs, they’ve been really coming back and just basically going for it, and just not letting up and not dying,” Leavitt coach Kevin Leonard said.

The breathing room was short-lived, though.

Lawrence made up the entire deficit in the top of the third, taking advantage of three Hornet errors to score four runs, then Breanna Sirois’ two-out single tied the game 5-5. Taylor Wilkie started the rally with a lead-off double, and Megan Curtis and Sarah Poli both singled in the frame.

Leavitt took the lead back with a five-run bottom of the third. Swan had an RBI single and Hannah Deblois followed with an RBI double in the frame. Leavitt later drove in a run with a groundout.

Leavitt sophomore Baylee Lane catches the ball at first base to get Lawrence junior Megan Curtis out during a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference game Thursday afternoon in Turner. Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn

“I thought we had things going in our direction, and we went right back out and gave them five more again — well they earned it, I’m not saying we gave them all to them,” Marcoux said. “It’s hard to play that kind of ball because we’re an aggressive, base running, steal, bunt game kind of team, and when you’re losing by five you can’t play that way because you’re giving away outs.”

The Hornets stretched their lead to 11-5 in the fourth on Rhys Thibodeau’s RBI groundout, but the Bulldogs scored four in the top of the fifth to draw within two. The first four batters reached, with a Megan Griffith single starting the base runner parade.

“This group has got to figure out how to maintain a lead, or I should say, hold the the lead,” Leonard said. “Again, the last week we’ve been doing a lot of this, but you see improvements. I mean, we’re young, but I see improvements as we go.”

Swan retired the next three batters to end the frame, though a groundout did yield the Bulldogs’ final run. She allowed just one hit the rest of the way to shut down any further Lawrence rally.

“She’s a senior, she’s tough,” Leonard said. “It was a tough game, along with the cooling with the weather and everything, but she came back and she did a good job tonight.”

Swan allowed six hits and seven walks while striking out six batters.

Lawrence baserunner Cassandra Martin slides into second base as Leavitt infielder Colleen Mathieu looks to make a play during a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference game Thursday afternoon in Turner. Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn

The Hornets scored 11 runs against Lawrence starter Poli, then five more in the sixth off reliever Paige Reynolds.

“Our pitchers are not seasoned, veteran pitchers, and we’re mainly asking them to throw strikes. So we don’t keep hitters off-balance very well yet, but we’ll get to it,” Marcoux said. “We’re young. Couple of sophomores. We’re all good.”

Each of the Hornets’ top three hitters — Swan, Deblois and Annika Mitchell — had two hits, as did Colleen Mathieu and Mallory Casey. In total, the Hornets banged out 14 hits.

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