Oxford Hills’ Kori Kahkonen congratulates Madison Day after scoring during Saturday’s Class A North semifinal win over Bangor in Paris. Brewster Burns photo

PARIS — Oxford Hills started the season hot in the warmth of Florida, and save for a couple games, the Vikings hitters haven’t cooled down.

They hope to keep that hot streak going for one, hopefully two more games.

The Vikings take their dynamic offense into a Class A North softball regional final Wednesday against Skowhegan, the only team to beat them and the one that held them to their lowest offensive output of the season in a 3-2 loss during the regular season.

Leading up to that May 17 loss, the Vikings had scored double-digit runs in seven off 11 games, including 35 against Leavitt and 13 and 12 in the two games leading up to the Skowhegan showdown.

“I think it’s contagious,” junior Madison Day said. “I think once one person starts hitting, I think it’s everyone chips in and starts doing their job.”

“When we went to Florida, preseason, we kind of saw what we had, and we were like, ‘Wow, this is probably going to be a pretty good season,'” junior Brooke Carson said.

The Vikings lost four key players — and hitters — from last year’s state runner-up, but they showed early that they didn’t lose any offensive mojo.

The Maine season opener saw eight runs scored against Messalonskee, including home runs by Carson and Kori Kahkonen in the same inning. A run of five straight double-digit outputs started two games later.

“Beginning of our season we had someone hit a home run I think like five or six games in a row — like someone hitting a home run over the fence,” Vikings coach Cindy Goddard said. “And different people, and so it’s not like the same person, ‘Oh, that’s our home run hitter.’ On our team there’s probably been five or six different people that have actually hit one over the fence. That’s not happened in the past, so that’s something different that they haven’t seen.”

But the Vikings aren’t just about power. When homers aren’t happening, or when the opponent gives them the opening, Oxford Hills can beat you with bunts, too.

“There’s going to be some days where your hitting is just not there, and also some other days where the pitching, or you know, you need to switch things up because they’re not going to expect it, and that’s an awesome strategy,” Carson said. “So it’s definitely very helpful for those two situations, like if we’re not hitting well or just to switch it up.”

Long ball or short game, Oxford Hills can do it from just about any spot in the lineup. That’s another thing that has made the offense so dangerous.

“Our No. 9 hitter could probably be someone else’s No. 3 or 4 hitter, a five hitter, somewhere else. So, yeah, sometimes you have a hard time (deciding) where people are going to go because they all have some strengths,” Goddard said. “We don’t look at the order and say, ‘OK, we just got to get through six, seven and eight to get back to one, two, three, four,’ because really our Nos. 6, 7, 8, 9, they have been producing. They’re actually the ones sometimes that give us the most amount of runs because I think sometimes pitchers relax a little after one, two, three, four, five, and those guys come through. We’re pretty lucky that they can come through.”

The Vikings have also shown a propensity for scoring in the early innings. Goddard said it could be that the team stresses being ready “right off.” Carson said the information the first few hitters relay back to the dugout about the opposing hitter also helps.

Whatever the reason, Day said scoring early “boosts our confidence.”

Not that the Vikings hitters need any added self-assurance. Goddard said having a lot of year-round players on the team means many players come into the season already confident in the batter’s box.

They will need that in the regional final against Skowhegan and all-conference pitcher Sydney Ames. Day said the team didn’t show that confidence at the plate during the regular-season meeting. Carson said they “weren’t as there that game.”

But the team’s first two playoff performances should bring some optimism.

“We didn’t always play our best game going against anyone after that (Skowhegan game), but I think in playoffs we’ve really been — I think we’ve seen some really good softball,” Goddard said.

“The last two games we’ve been hitting very, very well. And we just needed to not let the pressure get to us, because that’s the only thing that really brings down our hitting performance,” Carson said. “So, if we can, just like the last two games, same mentality, same confidence, I think we’ll be fine.”

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