It wasn’t so much a suggestion, or even a nugget of friendly advice, as it was a straightforward, no-room-for-interpretation command.

South Portland senior Kristin Kill approached junior Christina Aceto before the bottom of the seventh inning of Friday’s game against Biddeford – the Red Riots were trailing by a run at the time – and gave it to her straight:

“You have to get on base because I’m getting on base and everyone else behind you is getting on base. So that’s how it has to be,” said Kill, a right fielder who has earned a four-year scholarship to play for Division 1 Niagara next season.

Kill did get on base, and so did Jackie Rice before her.

That set the stage for Aceto. After anxiously pulling a hard line drive foul down the first-base line, the centerfielder refocused, waited a little longer on Michelle Gagnon’s pitch and delivered a triple into the left-centerfield gap. Kill and Rice scored easily, and the Red Riots won, 3-2.

“It’s a learning process for our young team, but it should prove to them, like I told them, that they can compete with anyone,” said Biddeford coach Leon Paquin. “I knew it, my coaches knew it. There’s talent there and they worked hard, so there should be no doubt in their mind that they can compete with anybody. They can play with this team. We gave them everything they wanted.”

Instead of worrying about the mistakes – like the Jen Dutremble error that led to Kill reaching base in the bottom of the seventh – Paquin talked about the little things that the Tigers did well in the game.

“The first run we scored the girl got the bunt down with one out to put a runner on second with two outs, and Emily Rousseau gets a hit and we get a run,” he said. “It’s just the little things like that at this caliber of softball that we have to be able to do. And if we’re able to do those things with a young team by the end of the year we should be playing better and watch out.”

Kendra Martel was the player who laid down the bunt that moved Ashley Potvin to second base in the top of the third inning. Rousseau followed with an RBI double that bounced off the infield lip and over left fielder Kristina Aceto’s head.

South Portland tied the game in the bottom of the inning when Kill had a run-scoring double of her own; Mandy Shannon came around to score after being hit by a pitch.

There would be no more scoring until the top of the sixth inning, when the Tigers used the little things, once again, to push across the go-ahead run.

Aimee Mortensen tripled off of South Portland starter Julie DiMatteo with one out, then scored on a suicide squeeze bunt by Nikki Kimborowicz.

The Red Riots threatened to score in the bottom of the inning when two runners reached with just one out, but they saved the heroics until the bottom of the seventh.

“Last year we had a lot of games that we came back in the seventh inning,” said Kill. “So we definitely knew we could do it. It was just a matter of getting mad up at the plate and getting frustrated that we hadn’t been getting too many hits.”

As it turned out, it wasn’t a hit, but an error by Hofstra-bound shortstop Dutremble that got the rally going. Kill hit a spinner that squirmed under Dutremble’s glove.

“It was one of those soft ones, in between, and she got her weight going the wrong way,” said Paquin. “But hey, it’s a team effort. We win and lose as a team. We’ve all got to make the plays. One kid can’t carry everyone.”

Aceto completed the team effort for South Portland.

“I was definitely a little aggressive on the first pitch, so I knew after it went way foul I just had to sit back on it a little bit,” said Aceto, who took a year off from softball last season to concentrate on soccer. “She threw it a little outside so I just tried to go with it and take it to left.”


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