April 30, 2013

HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL: MCI falls to Gardiner

By Matt DiFilippo mdifilippo@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

PITTSFIELD -- Funny thing, momentum. You can't capture it and it can change in an instant. But despite all we don't know about momentum, it doesn't stop anyone from declaring when a team has it.

In that vein, Gardiner softball has some serious momentum right now. On Tuesday afternoon, the Tigers polished off their sixth straight win to start the season, beating Maine Central Institute 13-1 at Manson Park.

"We just try to work really hard in practice," said Gardiner pitcher Kristal Smith, who allowed three hits over seven innings. "We kind of focus on not letting one error (turn into) two and I think our team has just done a really good job focusing on the field."

"They are actually challenging themselves every game," Gardiner coach Ginger Shaw said. "They set individual challenges and they set team challenges, so I kind of leave that up to them. That's the quality of kids that I have."

MCI (3-3) also has momentum, but in the other direction. After a sloppy 11-4 loss to Winslow on Monday, the Huskies committed six errors against Gardiner, leading to six unearned runs.

"A lot of unearned runs over the last two games," MCI coach Nicole Steeves said. "I told them that we could either utilize this as a learning opportunity and move on from it or this will set the tone. It will be a tough practice tomorrow. I just told them that they're better than they've played these last two games. We're a better team than that and we need to step it up."

After Brittany Rollins threw a complete game to beat Nokomis on Monday, Shaw went with Smith, who threw 80 pitches. Smith struck out four and walked none and the Gardiner defense made the plays.

"Having those two pitchers who can throw well, throw a high percentage of strikes -- it's priceless," Shaw said. "It really is, especially Class B being as competitive as it is right now."

While the Huskies gave away a few runs, Gardiner also brought its bats. Bri Brochu and Taylor Banister each had three hits, and two of Banister's were for extra bases. The Tigers opened the third inning with four straight hits, including a two-run single by Lilly Chepke, to open up a 6-0 lead. Every Gardiner batter in the game either had a hit, walked or reached on an error.

MCI's best chance to get back in the game came in the bottom of the third, when the Huskies loaded the bases with two outs. Smith got out of the inning on a groundout and didn't allow another baserunner until Carolyn Newhouse led off the sixth with a booming triple to right field. Newhouse, who scored on a groundout, was also MCI's last baserunner, as Smith retired 13 of the last 14 batters she faced.

Matt DiFilippo -- 861-9243

mdifilippo@centralmaine.com

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