BREWER – Batter after batter trudged back to the Fryeburg dugout with the same bewildered look.

“They said, ‘The ball’s moving like nothing we’ve seen all season,’ ” said Fryeburg Coach Fred Apt. “She did a great job. What can you do?”

Old Town junior Kendra Hayward struck out 15 and held the defending champion Raiders to four hits — two of them bunts — as the Coyotes made their first trip to the Class B softball state championship game a success with a 4-1 victory Saturday afternoon at sunny Coffin Field.

“She had a pretty good rise ball and she definitely hit her spots well,” said Fryeburg senior Maggie McConkey. “She had a weird spin on the ball so it looked faster than it was. We just couldn’t get a good view of the ball.”

McConkey had given Fryeburg (18-2) a 1-0 lead in the top of the first by drawing a two-out walk and scoring on Sarah Harriman’s long double to right-center.

Hayward set down the next six batters and 12 of 14. After throwing 28 tournament innings without a walk, she gave up three Saturday, but McConkey’s was the only one that hurt her.

Fryeburg catcher Carla Tripp bunted twice for singles. Otherwise, the only other solid contact came from Emily Davidson, against whom Old Town left fielder Brittany Cousins made a running catch, and Harriman, who went 2 for 3.

In addition to her RBI double, Harriman’s sixth-inning blast to deep right wound up as a single when she tripped over first base and had to crawl back.

“You know what kind of day it is when you see Sarah trip over first base,” Apt said. “We made a few mistakes and they took advantage of them.”

Indeed, the Raiders hardly looked like a team in their fifth straight state title game.

The tide turned in the home third when Harriman plunked Cousins and gave up a soft one-out single to Meagan Cousins to put runners at the corners. Sam Milton’s flare to shallow right glanced off the glove of retreating second baseman Bri Pelkie but right fielder Maddie Smith picked it up quickly.

A clean catch likely would have resulted in a double play because Meagan Cousins was closer to second than first base. Even so, Smith had an easy force at second on Cousins — scrambling back to first in anticipation of a catch — but the right fielder instead threw home in a futile attempt to prevent Brittany Cousins from scoring.

The result was a tie game and two runners still on base instead of a second and potentially third out. Hayward’s two-out, two-run double to deep left broke the tie and put Old Town (17-4) in charge for good.

Meagan Cousins had led off the home first with a double to deep left and raced to third when the relay came toward second. She was stranded there, however, as Harriman fanned two after Tripp, the Fryeburg catcher, caught a popped bunt attempt.

“That’s always frustrating, but it’s part of the game,” Cousins said. “You’ve got to bounce back and we did.”

Harriman allowed only four Old Town hits and struck out six with one walk, but couldn’t match Hayward, who throws five different pitches.

“She doesn’t have amazing speed,” first-year Old Town coach Jenn Plourde said. “But she hits her spots and moves it all around.”

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

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