WESTBROOK – Bonny Eagle picked up steam in the top of the fourth at Westbrook on Thursday afternoon, May 4, scoring a quartet on solid contact by Mackenzie Emery, Nell Spencer, Sarah Champagne, Sydney Gillingham and Makala Greene. The Scots continued to heap runs on the Blazes, who couldn’t dig themselves free despite taking a six-run stab at a bottom-of-the-seventh comeback. 14-9 the final.
“They were ready mentally for this game,” Bonny Eagle head coach Jan Corliss said of her girls. “They were up before game; we talked about it. I told them I had switched the lineup around. I studied their stats for three hours this morning, went with my best hitters, and they paid off today.”
The Scots inched out front in the top of the first. Spencer led off for the team and eventually scored on a wild pitch by Blazes starter Angelica Johns. Westbrook, however, hung with Bonny Eagle through the remainder of the first and the entirety of the second and the third; not until the top of the fourth did the Scots settle into a real rhythm and begin racking up runs.
Emery kicked off that push: Her shallow fly to wide-right fell in the grass, allowing her to reach first; she reached second when Spencer trickled a little grounder single a few feet in the direction of third. Emery scored and Spencer reached second when Champagne belted a grounder single into left.
Blazes basemen Mikayla Van Zandt caught Spencer out at third when Gillingham grounded into a fielder’s choice. Van Zandt’s decision, though, allowed Champagne to reach second and Gillingham first; both girls then scored when Greene blasted a deep double to wide left field. Suddenly, the Scots had scooted ahead 5-0.
“We were finally hitting the ball,” said Corliss. “We’ve been struggling all season, trying to get the bat on the ball. Finally, we were choosing much better pitches to swing at, and we were actually swinging at them. We put together some nice bunts, some heads-up baserunning too, so the whole thing combined was really nice.”
“We just got ourselves in the hole early,” said Westbrook head coach Eddie St. John. “The pitching was okay, we just couldn’t get the bats going.”
St. John remarked on his girls’ missed opportunities. “We got a couple of tough calls on the umpire. We had a bases loaded and we thought we had it over the bag at third and he said it was foul, and what do they say? ‘Game of inches,’ right?”
Westbrook got one back in the bottom of the fourth. Camryn LaPierre rounded all the way to third when she knocked a fly into right and Bonny Eagle fielder Lauryn Fagan bobbled the catch. LaPierre then tagged up and dashed home when Julia Symbol batted into an out.
One, however, was hardly going to cut it; the Blazes needed more spark than that to keep pace with their guests, especially as those guests continued to score. Bonny Eagle added two in the fifth (Taya Phelan and Maddie Corbett), three in the sixth (Sadie Denico, Blake Morin and Morgan Doughty – Doughty’s on an inside-the-park homerun) and four in the seventh (Spencer, Gillingham, Greene and Morgan Drinkwater) for a whopping 14.
Meanwhile, Westbrook managed just one in the fifth (Van Zandt) and another in the sixth (Johns). Down 14-3 for their last ups, they could be forgiven for folding, for taking half-hearted turns at the plate and slow runs at the bases. They could be forgiven for those things – if they’d done them. But they didn’t.
Instead, the Blazes flared, burning more brightly for their last three outs than they had all afternoon – in fact, as they hashed run after run, the shocking sense they might actually catch up to the Scots began to hang in the air. That’s not how things ultimately turned out, of course, but it’s to Westbrook’s credit that they assembled the drive they assembled.
Leadoff hitter Emily Talbot began it: Talbot reached first when she grounded toward third and Gillingham, the Scots baseman there, bobbled the ball. Talbot grabbed second on a steal during Kayla Horner’s at-bat and third on Horner’s single to left. She reached home on another steal, this one during LaPierre’s at-bat, when Horner stole second and the Scots attempted to throw her out there. That maneuver gave Talbot the time she needed to touch the plate again. 14-4.
Horner scored when LaPierre rocketed a standing triple to distant left; LaPierre then scored when Symbol grounded out 5-3. Johns, Ally LaPierre and Lizzi Richardson comprised Westbrook’s three final runs of the day: Johns singled and Ally LaPierre and Richardson both doubled to ratchet the Blazes’ tally forward to 14-9. That’s where their fire would burn low, however. Bonny Eagle reliever Journey Barnes closed the game out for her girls with a strikeout of Horner.
“Once the last couple innings got going, we started to get the bats going,” said St. John. “But again, when you get yourself down eight or nine runs in the middle of the game, it’s hard to come back.”
“I told them in the seventh inning,” said St. John, “that I just wanted them to, ‘take your time; the pressure’s on them; they’ve got to get three outs. I know it doesn’t look as good as it should be, but if we just chip away, chip away.’”
A number of the Blazes’ hits in the bottom of the seventh seemed to fall just out of reach of Scots defenders making good efforts. “I switched my outfielders around,” said Corliss of her girls’ defensive struggles during that stretch. “The young lady I had in leftfield usually plays rightfield; the girl I had in the middle usually plays left field. So the angles had a little bit to do with it.”
“But we had a few good relay throws – and a few that we need to go talk about,” Corliss said.
Corliss lauded a couple of her girls, but also emphasized that the win belonged to her whole team. “My pitcher, Sadie Denico, did a heck of a job,” Corliss said. “She did with her batting, too. Makala Greene was a good hitter. I mean, I can’t single anyone, because this game, everyone contributed. I think these kids are finally going to see what team is all about.”
Bonny Eagle advanced on the result to 1-5. The Scots hosted the Maine Girls’ Academy on Monday the 8th, traveled to Marshwood the following day and to Gorham the day after that. They welcome Thornton Academy on Friday the 12th.
Westbrook slipped to 1-5. The Blazes dropped in on Massabesic on Tuesday the 9th, then hosted a double-header vs. Windham on Wednesday the 10th. The visit Marshwood on the 12th.
Adam Birt can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME
Scots second-basemen Mackenzie Emery hurls a ball toward first.
Westbrook starter Angelica Johns unwinds into a pitch vs. visiting Bonny Eagle on Thursday.
Sadie Denico started in the circle for Bonny Eagle.
Camryn LaPierre inches off third. LaPierre would momentarily score the Blazes’ first run of the game.
Taya Phelan dashes for him in the top of the fifth.
Kayla Horner takes a turn at the plate for Westbrook.