SACO – One of several plays that could have gone either way but seemed to tilt in favor of the Thornton Academy softball team was catcher Sam Schildroth’s long drive to left-center.
It was sure to score two runs, but when the ball hit the top of the plastic, temporary fence for the briefest of moments there was a question: Would it go over the fence for a three-run homer or back into the field of play?
“I did see it and I was rounding first and thinking, ‘Oh my God. Please go out,’” Schildroth said.
It did for Thornton’s final run in what would turn out to be a 10-6 Class A win against Noble.
Schildroth’s fourth-inning homer was the loudest blow in a 12-hit attack for the Trojans against Noble starter Amber Kelley and pushed the lead to 10-1.
Thornton entered the game 12th in the Western Class A standings — one spot out of the playoffs — and improved to 4-3.
“I want them to forget about the Heal (point standings) and play one game at a time. We can’t be looking ahead and we can’t be looking in the mirror,” Coach John Provost said. “I’m not interested in the Heals. I’m interested in the game we’re playing and breaking it down one inning at a time.”
Noble, which was ranked fourth, is now 5-3.
The Knights’ sophomore first baseman, Melodie Bailey, showed some pop of her own in the fifth. Nicole Lavoie (walk), Katie Taylor (single) and Kelly (her third single) loaded the bases against sophomore pitcher Bailey Tremblay.
The left-handed hitting Bailey turned on a Tremblay pitch and lined a shot over the right-center field fence for a grand slam, cutting the lead to 10-5.
“That ball was crushed,” Noble Coach Rick Melanson said. “She’s a sophomore and a softball stud. She loves the game.”
Noble added another run on a wind-blown double by Molly Pritchett and a pair of infield grounders (one of which was misplayed) before Tremblay got out of the inning with two strikeouts.
Tremblay retired six of the final seven Noble batters — Bailey touched her for a line-drive double — to record the 10-hit win, She struck out seven, including the final two batters.
A key was the top of the sixth when she needed just four pitches to get three ground-ball outs, two handled by sophomore third baseman Brooke Cross, who played a strong defensive game.
“A couple of girls, our senior leaders, talked to (Tremblay) between innings and got her back into the game,” Provost said. “She threw strikes and we made the plays. That’s how easy it is.”
Of course it’s not always that easy, as Noble’s Kelly found out in the second inning.
With the game tied 1-1, she appeared on her way to a 1-2-3 inning when she got Aleisha Cross to pop one foul just behind the plate. The ball was dropped by Noble catcher Brooke Hamilton.
Cross responded to her extra chance with a single to left that started a three-run rally. RBI singles by Karen Jacques and Brooke Cross sandwiched a two-error play.
“That’s part of the game,” Melanson said. “We’ve got to take up the slack and get out of that inning.”
Thornton added another unearned run in the third despite bunting into a double play for the second time in the game.
“They’re a good hitting team,” Melanson said. “I didn’t think Amber was especially sharp with her control, but Thornton did hit. You can’t take that away from them.”
Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at: