WINTHROP — The game is still pitches, catches, hits and throws, but there’s simply no substitute for playoff experience.

Light on the latter, the Winthrop softball team relied on what little prior postseason participation it had on its roster Tuesday to pull out a 6-2 win over Lisbon and advance to the Class C South quarterfinals. The fifth-seeded Ramblers travel to No. 4 Maranacook on Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m.

“You’re super nervous going in thinking it’s one and done,” said Winthrop senior catcher Lydia Rice, a multi-sport athlete with plenty of playoff wins on her individual resume. “It’s all starting over. You have zero wins and zero losses. Even if you’re playing a team that’s got a lot of losses and you’ve got a lot of wins, you’re still all at the same level. That can be hard for teams.”

Rice pulled out the biggest hit of the afternoon, smacking a two-run single to center field to break open a one-run game in the bottom of the sixth — and never stopping as she circled the bases when the ball was misplayed in the outfield.

It turned a tense, 3-2 game into a 6-2 advantage.

After falling behind 1-0 in the first and 2-1 after two, it took a while for Winthrop to find its playoff groove.


“Other than maybe Lydia and Maddie (Perkins), I don’t think any of our other kids have any high school playoff experience,” Winthrop coach Chuck Gurney said. “That was my concern coming into today I think they were a little bit nerved up. Once they got going, it was a great game all the way through.

“I think the jitters of postseason were there.”

Lisbon plated a single run in each of the first two frames but never put another on the board. The Greyhounds left the bases loaded in the first and stranded two more in the second, finishing the day with 10 runners left on the basepaths.

For a team featuring eight underclassmen, a single junior and nary a single substitute to be found in the dugout, it was part of a season-long learning experience — one that didn’t feature any prior playoff exposure.

“We’ve had a lot of trouble stringing hits together,” Lisbon coach Nikki Austin said. “A lot of them haven’t played since seventh grade, and two of them haven’t played at all (before). Trying to get that together and get hits, they’ve done well considering.”

The game turned in the fourth inning.


After putting the eight and nine hitters in the Lisbon order on base via a walk and an infield hit to begin the inning, Winthrop’s Lauryn Wood struck out the side to get out of the jam. She then allowed just one hit the rest of the way.

The Grehounds managed to get only one runner into scoring position over the final three innings.

“She’s a competitor,” Gurney said of the sophomore Wood. “She’s pretty tough. I would have liked to see her throw her changeup a little bit more, but Lydia calls the games for us and it’s working right now.”

Wood’s effort allowed the Ramblers to go ahead to stay in the fifth.

Shortstop Maddie Perkins reached on a two-out error to start the rally, and cleanup hitter Bella Littler delivered an RBI single to center to knot the score at 2-2. Rilye Frechette appeared to strike out to end the inning, but the ball skipped away from Lisbon catcher Elle Picard.

Picard’s throw to first sailed up the right field line, and Littler scored all the way from second on the play for the eventual winning run.

“I felt like at first we were kind of slumped. But I felt like we rallied up and got things going,” said Littler, a sophomore. “It’s kind of intense out there until a big hit comes. This is my first time in the playoffs.”

“It’s a mental game as much as a physical game,” Austin added. “We’ve done the best we can. This was one of our best games, so I’m proud of them. You can’t do anything about big hits with lots of runners on — they earned their runs.”

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