WESTBROOK – The Westbrook softball team built a lead Monday afternoon, then stamped out a Sanford rally with some tricky defense to secure the 4-1 win at home.

Westbrook, who finished 8-8 in 2012, improves to 1-1, after an 11-2 loss to Noble on Saturday to open the season. Sanford, 10-8 in 2012, falls to 0-2, having lost their opener against Windham 5-0.

“We got a good pitching performance from Allie Lemay,” Westbrook head coach Dee Allen said, after the game. “She was strong through all seven innings, and got some key outs for us when we needed them … Another key for us would be Emily Thornton in [centerfield]; she made some huge catches … We made some great plays on defense. Our shortstop faked the kid out at second when she was running. That was a huge play; it took momentum away from them, and kind of shifted it back towards us.”

Inexperience cost Sanford the game, according to head coach Kristi Cochin.

“We’re still trying to settle in,” she said. “We have some kids who are being asked to step up into pretty significant roles who, really, it’s their first time in those roles, and I think the nerves really got the best of us.

Sanford got on the board first, when leadoff hitter Sam Fecteau walked. The next Spartan batter, Morgan Fogg, trickled a short grounder and found herself out at first, but her sacrifice advanced Fecteau to second. Two batters later, Kellie Tovey drove the ball into right, earning herself a standing double and bringing Fecteau home.

But that would be Sanford’s only run of the game. Their offense faltered, and production withered for the remainder of the game.

“We’re just not hitting timely,” Cochin said. “We’re leaving kids on base, and not able to string anything together. Everyone in the lineup can hit – it’s just a matter of them playing a solid inning on defense and getting excited to hit.”

Westbrook soon evened the score. Thornton walked, and then, with Clark at the plate, stole second. Kerrigan Demers popped a shot into right and dashed to first while Thornton crossed the plate

“I thought we ran the bases well. We were able to steal some bases, and get in scoring position.” Allen said. “Just getting on base and then running the bases well was huge for us.”

Westbrook struck twice in the bottom of the third. Clark walked to first, then stole second on Demers’s at-bat. Demers drove a triple into right, bringing Clark home. With Emma Berry at the plate, an errant pitch by Jen Jones got away from her catcher, Caitlin Pierce, and Demers stole home.

Errors come with a steep cost in softball, though.

“That’s what we talk about” Cochin said. “When we commit errors in an inning, we give them four outs, five outs, six outs in an inning – the league is too strong for us to do that,”

“We’ve got to stop the bleeding before it starts, really,” Cochin said. “Especially if we’re not going to then produce on offense.”

In the top of the fifth, Sanford looked like they might produce again. Nicole Main walked to first, and on Fecteau’s at-bat, stole second. But Fecteau nailed a base hit, and though she made it safely to first, the ball had skidded right into the glove of Westbrook shortstop Katie Clark, who held onto the ball, having perhaps noticed that Main was lingering off the bag. Clark tagged Main out, draining Sanford’s momentum. Morgan Fogg then struck out, stranding Fecteau midway between first and second, which she was stealing when Fogg took the pitch.?

Sanford couldn’t jump-start their chances for the rest of the game.

Allen is satisfied with her girls’ performance, and especially their positivity.

“We were just really excited about the energy,” she said. “Right from the start, right when we got to the field today, there was great energy from every kid that we saw. They were pumped up, ready to go – it was the seniors’ last home opener, that they kept talking about, so they really wanted this, and I think it showed … So I think the attitude today was just the biggest thing.”

But she’s not content to see her squad rest on its laurels, and looks forward to batting practice.

“We need to hit,” the Westbrook coach said. “I would say we definitely need to hit.”

And putting bats on balls isn’t the only area she wants to emphasize.

“We just touch up on everything, really,” she said. “You know, fielding situations, our bunting we need to bunt better. But I think our biggest focus is hitting. If we get on base, we can be a good base-running team, and kind of produce runs that way. We didn’t really get huge hits today, we just got on base and got what we needed, so we want to improve our hitting definitely.”

Cochin had plenty say about her squad’s strengths, too.

“I think, recovering from those errors was big,” she said. “We see the error, and it becomes costly, but we make the next few plays. And that’s a positive for us.”

Westbrook will get a chance to tally another win when they travel to 1-1 Massabesic on Wednesday to play at 4:15. Sanford will get another swing when they host Biddeford on Wednesday at 4.

Westbrook pitcher Allie Lemay in warm-ups Monday afternoon.
Sanford’s Jen Jones cracks a ball off the ground in of her at-bats Monday afternoon.
Sanford’s Nicole Main takes a cut at the plate.
Sanford’s Sam Fecteau takes off running in a bid to steal second.
Sanford’s Sam Fecteau takes a stand at the plate.
Sanford’s Catilin Pierce takes aim at a fast-moving pitch Monday afternoon.
Sanford pitcher Jen Jones in action against Westbrook Monday afternoon.  Westbrook won the contest, 4-1.

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