SACO – It’s always nice to start the high school softball season with a victory. When it comes over your rival, that’s even better.
When that rival is considered one of the top contenders in your class, well, that just makes it almost perfect.
And that’s how Friday went for Thornton Academy, which defeated Biddeford 9-1 in the season opener.
The Trojans knocked out 13 hits, capitalized on five Tiger errors and got outstanding pitching from sophomore Bailey Tremblay.
“This is a big confidence builder for us,” said Tremblay, who allowed six hits but no walks while striking out three.
Tremblay is filling some big shoes this year in the pitching circle, replacing the graduated Julia Geaumont, who was regarded as the best player in the state last year.
If she was nervous, she didn’t show it. Using a change-up and a darting fastball, she worked the outer half of the plate to perfection. She needed only 66 pitches to get the victory, never throwing more than 13 in an inning.
“You’ve got to keep it off the middle of the plate for this team,” she said, nodding to the Tigers. “They can hit. I kept them off balance.”
John Provost, the Trojans’ coach, said the key for Tremblay this year is to not try to be Geaumont.
“Bailey just needs to pitch like Bailey can pitch,” he said. “And let the girls play defense behind her.”
That they did on Friday. The Trojans made two errors but came up with several outstanding plays. First baseman Erin Brayden made three scoops of low throws to save outs; center fielder Aurora Connolly made a sliding catch; and third baseman Sam Schildroth nabbed a hard sinking liner.
“We’ve been working a lot on defense this year,” said Brayden. “We take a lot of time in practice on it because we know that we need to get better at it. It’s how we’re going to win games.”
And the defense let the Tigers down, especially early. Biddeford committed three errors in the first inning, one in the second, as Thornton built a 5-0 lead. It could have been more but the Tigers ended each of the first two innings by throwing a Trojan runner out at the plate.
Thornton’s leadoff hitter Taylor Lux reached on an error, was sacrificed to second and scored on Tremblay’s single. Tremblay (two hits, two RBI) went to third on an errant throw on that play and scored on a wild pitch.
Then in the second, Brooke Cross singled in two runs and Brayden (three hits, two RBI) another.
From there it was simply a matter of playing good defense behind Bailey, who consistently was ahead of the batters.
“Just a great way to start the season,” said Provost.
Leon Paquin, the Tigers’ coach, said it was obvious what Biddeford has to work on.
“I know it and they know it,” he said. “We’ve got to be better defensively if we want to compete against the better teams. I know the kids will work hard. And as long as we keep improving, we’ll be all right.”
Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: