Thursday, December 12, 2013
By Matt DiFilippo firstname.lastname@example.org
WINSLOW -- The advantages Nokomis had over Winslow on Wednesday afternoon were small ones, but they were still there: A little bit better infield defense, and a little bit more power at the bottom of the order.
Even with those advantages, Nokomis still needed Becky Orcutt to pitch the last two innings with no advance notice to close out a 6-3 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B softball victory.
Nokomis ace Sara Packard, in her first game back after going to Italy, pitched the first five innings before becoming ill. Orcutt, who was playing first base, did not have time to throw any extra warm-up pitches, but still threw hitless ball over the final two innings.
"Sara got sick -- like that," Nokomis coach J.D. McLellan said, snapping his fingers. "We could tell there was something up that last inning where they scored some runs. Becky did great coming in. I can't ask for anything more for Becky to do. I was just hoping to get through the innings, let alone do as well as she did."
Nokomis (2-2) smacked the ball around at times, and also scored four unearned runs on five Winslow errors. Taylor Lovley scored in the first inning when the Black Raiders threw the ball away, and Nokomis junior second baseman Courtney Carlson belted a triple to deep left field as part of a two-run second inning.
The Warriors doubled their lead to 6-0 in the top of the fifth. Orcutt tripled and scored when she barely beat a throw home on a ground ball. With one out and one on, the Raiders (2-2) booted two straight ground balls, and Carlson, the No. 8 hitter, followed with a two-run double.
"They put the ball in play," Winslow coach Steve Bodge said. "They hit good pitches, and then when they had runners on base, we just gave them too many early. It just seemed like we had chances to get out of innings, and we didn't do our job."
"Coach gave me something else to do, something new," Carlson said. "I guess I was dropping my head before when the ball came. I just started picking my head up more, and I hit the ball."
To that point, Packard had given up one hit and had not allowed a ball out of the infield. But when Hillary Libby drew a one-out walk, the Winslow bench suddenly came to life like it was a playoff game. The Raiders proceeded to hit four straight singles -- line drives by Hannah Doble and Liz Pullen, a bunt by Gabby Languet, and a soft liner just out of Carlson's reach by Brooke Haskell.
Three runs scored in the meantime, and Winslow had Languet on second and Haskell on third with one out. But Packard emptied her tank by striking out the 3-4 hitters to end the inning.
"(We) probably could have packed it in at 6-0, knowing Nokomis is pretty tough," Bodge said. "But we came right out against their ace and scored three, and we had the tying run at the plate with second and third and one out. That was a good battle for us."
Orcutt walked Hayley Pottle to open the Winslow sixth, then retired the last six batters with help from some nice defense by Taylor Lovley at third and Lacey Kent-Webber at short.
"I've got to get my strength back to (pitch a) full game, so I think that was part of it," Packard said. "I've been a little sick lately. But Becky came in and saved me, so it was a great team win."
Matt DiFilippo -- 861-9243