Pitcher Brittany Bell and first baseman Libby DesRuisseaux use words like chemistry and team dynamic to explain why Cheverus is off to an unexpected 7-0 start in softball.

Certainly liking each other and having an influx of new talent has helped. But Monday’s 9-2 home win against Portland showed that for all of Cheverus’ emotional growth, the real difference is between the lines: These Stags make plays on defense and keep the pressure on the opposing team’s defense.

Cheverus made one error Monday behind Bell, who struck out eight without a walk.

“In past years there was pressure on me to get the outs,” Bell said. “It would be, ‘Oh, no, where is the ball going? It can’t go there or go there.’ Now it can go anywhere and I have confidence we’re going to get the outs.”

Like a relay throw from center to short that cut down Olivia Gilbert when she tried to stretch a triple into an inside-the-park home run in the fourth inning.

The play started when Gilbert’s sinking liner to center got past Josie Bradshaw’s dive. By the time Bradshaw tracked the ball down, Gilbert was rounding second. Bradshaw threw to shortstop Olivia Mull, who gunned down Gilbert with four feet to spare, with catcher Margaret Rigney applying the tag.

Cheverus Coach Maureen Curran said Mull and Rigney, both juniors, had not played on a softball team since sixth grade.

“That is what we’ve worked on time and time again in practice,” Bell said. “It was awesome to see it in action and to come out with a good ending.”

“As soon as that happened the whole team energy changed and we just got really into the game,” DesRuisseaux added.

Cheverus already had a 3-1 lead when Bell’s sharply hit two-out bases-loaded grounder went under Portland shortstop Brianna Holdren’s glove, allowing two runs to score in the third.

In the fourth, Cheverus loaded the bases after two quick outs on a single by Mull (2 for 2, 2 runs) and walks by Casey Simpson (2 for 3) and Sophia Giancotti against Maddie Kennie.

Kennie got DesRuisseaux to pop up but the ball was dropped by first baseman Cierra Burnham after she and second baseman Cassandra Kennie bumped.

Two runs scored, Bell was intentionally walked and Katie Randall came through with a two-run single to right.

“We gave up a lot of unearned (runs) and hits on 0-2 counts,” Portland Coach Kelly Libby said. “We’re young, but we’re getting there and we’re chipping away at it.”

Portland did generate eight hits, including two by freshman center fielder Morgan Heathcoat. Burnham also had two hits.

Portland starting pitcher Isabelle DiMillo had to leave in the second inning after Bradshaw’s hard line drive hit her in the forehead.

DiMillo was able to walk off without assistance. After being attended to and observed by the Cheverus athletic trainer for a couple of innings, she left to be examined by a doctor.

“She seemed to be doing fine but with, of course, a little bit of a headache, so they wanted to take her in and have her checked out,” Libby said.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at:

scraig@pressherald.com

Twitter: SteveCCraig