PORTLAND – The Biddeford softball team was unable to squarely connect with the off-speed pitching of Deering starter Kaylee Wheeler in the early innings of Friday’s SMAA season opener at Payson Park.

Meanwhile, Deering’s hitters couldn’t do much with the offerings of Biddeford pitcher Sarah Gilblair.

It figured, then, that it took a defensive mistake to end the stalemate. Biddeford capitalized on a fifth-inning throwing error to score the first run, then broke the game open an inning later en route to a 5-0 win.

“We had to wait for the pitch a little bit because it was a little slower than we were used to,” said Gilblair, whose team finished with six hits. “But I think we did OK in doing that.

“I think Deering could hit me easily, but I just hit my spots.”

Gilblair struck out 10 and held the Tigers to one hit, Netta Brown’s single that opened the bottom of the fifth.

“Our hitters, I think they battled really well,” Deering assistant coach Bill Caron said. “Their pitcher’s right around the plate the whole time, with good command of her pitches. We got some good swings at the ball, we hit the ball fairly hard a couple times, right at people, and they made good plays.

“Their defense was very solid, but I thought we had some really good at-bats. As the game wore on, we had to take control of the plate and get our hacks up there.”

Biddeford sent eight batters to the plate in the top of the sixth and scored three runs on two hits and an error. The Tigers added a run in the seventh when Renee Trottier drove in Amethyst Hersom, who had tripled.

Kristina McCurry, Biddeford’s No. 7 hitter, opened the fifth with a single that dropped into short right field. Deering third baseman Kate Pickering then fielded Kaleigh Lachance’s bunt but threw the ball over the head of first baseman Caley Presby, and McCurry scored to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.

In the sixth, Kelsey Morton, McCurry and Lachance — Biddeford’s No. 6, 7 and 8 hitters — each drove in a run to extend Biddeford’s lead to 4-0.

“It’s really important,” Lachance said of the production of the lower half of her team’s lineup. “We need everybody to be on their ‘A’ game and contribute the same amount.”

Before the fifth, the Tigers had their best scoring chances in the first and fourth. In the first, Biddeford had runners on first and second with one out, but Wheeler worked out of trouble by striking out Heather Fecteau and Renee Trottier. In the fourth, Morton popped out to Presby with two outs and a runner on second.

“This is a big step for her,” Caron said of Wheeler, who struck out seven in her first varsity start. “She threw strikes, the defense behind her was solid for the most part, and I was very, very impressed with her composure.

“A couple moments early in the game where they had runners on first and second and in the first inning, this is her first go-around. She got behind the next batter at 3-0 and battled back, gutted it out, and we got out of the inning.”

 

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at:

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