BIDDEFORD — Mariah Albert said she gathered her Biddeford High teammates after the top of the first inning when 10th-seeded Massabesic had struck for three runs.
“We came together in the circle and I always have to give a little pep talk,” Albert said. “The other captains really helped me out a lot and we picked up the team and we said, ‘They’re swinging the bats and we need to get our tough defense going and we need to swing our bats because there’s no way we’re going to win like this.’ “
The Tigers listened.
With 18 hits and aggressive base running they generated plenty of offense. The defense didn’t make another error and sophomore pitcher Abbie Paquette held Massabesic to three hits over the final six innings in Tuesday’s 14-5 Class A preliminary round playoff win.
“Finally we relaxed a little bit and got some hits and they made some mistakes and we ran the bases and it snowballed from there,” Biddeford Coach Leon Paquin said. “And Abbie’s strong enough to keep them at bay after that.”
Biddeford (11-6) advances to Thursday’s quarterfinal at No. 2 South Portland (14-2). The Red Riots won a crisply played regular-season meeting, 4-1, on May 20.
“We’re going to have to play better defense than we did today. The kids will be into it. We like playing South Portland. They’re a good team. If we play the way we can it will be a very competitive game and that’s what we want,” Paquin said.
Massabesic had scored its three runs in the first on four straight singles by Renee Dugas, Amber Libby, Kassidy Hill, and Dani Egan with a throwing error moving Egan to second with no outs.
Paquette stuck out Regan Adams with a change-up — the key pitch of the game — and escaped further damage with a pair of infield grounders, starting a stretch where she retired seven straight batters and 12 of 13.
By that point, Biddeford had built a 9-3 lead against Massabesic freshman starter Sarah Guimond, a right-hander who had been used as a relief pitcher at the end of the season, Massabesic Coach Ray Magnant said.
Egan, a senior, had been the starting pitcher for Massabesic (8-9) throughout the season.
“Dani tweaked her back so usually we try to get three or four innings out of Dani and (Guimond) comes in in relief and she’s been doing a great job,” Magnant said. “Unfortunately today, Dani couldn’t go at all and we had to start (Guimond).”
Egan played third base and batted clean-up, going 2 for 3.
Albert got the Tigers back into the game mentally by lining a single to center to start the bottom of the first, stealing second, moving up on a groundout and scoring on a wild pitch.
The Tigers scored three in the second, two in the third, three in the fourth and broke it open with four in the fifth for a 13-4 lead.
Biddeford’s seniors shined at the plate in their final home game.
Albert went 3 -for 3 with an RBI and shook off what at first appeared to be a serious injury. Albert overran third base in the second inning. As she reached back for the bag, she was forcefully tagged out by Egan, who inadvertently stepped on Albert’s right hand. Albert sat out two innings then returned to her normal right-field spot and added a third hit.
Shortstop Katelyn Lebreux was 3 for 5 with a two-run single in the second inning to give Biddeford its first lead, 4-3. Alyssa Baldino, who plays first, also was 3 for 5 with a double and three RBI. Catcher Katie Plante went 2-for-3 with a double and sacrifice fly.
Freshman third baseman Charlotte White was 2 for 3 with a double, a single and a long sacrifice fly.
Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at: