PARIS — Knowing her teammates had her back on defense and were in the swing of things at the plate, Oxford Hills winning pitcher Kiara McLeod felt confident and in control Monday’s softball game.

McLeod had no problem going the four and half innings before the 12-run rule was implemented. The hard-slugging Vikings belted 13 hits and left Gouin Athletic Complex with a season-opening 17-0 victory over Greely.

McLeod threw a three-hitter, striking out nine batters, and also pulled her weight at the plate, hitting a single and a double, driving in in three runs and scoring twice.

“We worked really well … and when we start hitting, it is like a chain reaction. You just get into it,” McLeod said. “I thought I had a good defense behind me, and anything that happened, I knew they were going to be there, and I had great catchers today — Miah Gallan and Kaydence Morse.

“I think it was a great season opener. I think we hit the ball really well, scored runs and we challenged ourselves. It was just a great team effort.”

The Vikings’ bats opened up on the Rangers in the first three innings, scoring 16 runs.

McLeod found herself in a first-inning jam when Greely put two runners at second and third bases with a single and an error, but she kept calm and eventually struck out three batters.

The Vikings’ first turn at-bat in the opening inning was decisive: they used four hits and took advantage of an error to score four runs.

“Oh, my God, it just felt good to be here,” Oxford Hills coach Cindy Goddard said. “The last time we were here was a long time ago. It was just a perfect day. Just having the music and seeing the kids was exciting. 

“They responded. They came and hit really well during pregame. They were ready; they were ready.”

The Vikes were just warming up — the second and third innings ended in two six-run outbursts. The second inning featured the triple by outfielder Bella DeVivo and an over-the-fence homer by Haileigh Sawyer, who also smacked a single and double.

Oxford Hills took advantage of a couple of walks, an error and a double by Gallan to fuel another six-run sprint in the third inning. The Vikings topped off their victory with their final run in the fourth. Senior Kaitlyn Montelango, who got on with walk, came across the plate using some skilled base running to make her way home.

Greely was missing several key players due to the coronavirus and players vacationing with their families.

“So we are missing four starters,” Greely coach John Eisenhart said. “But it was a great opportunity for some of our JV players to get some varsity action, and we are going to need everybody this year because of the COVID. You never know who you are going to potentially lose. … But I am proud of the girls. They battled against a really, really good team. I think our whole motto is try to get better every day.”

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