KENNEBUNK — With his team’s bats largely silent in the first three innings on Monday against Windham, Kennebunk softball coach Jim Lang gave his players one simple piece of advice about their approach at the plate: Put the bat on the ball and see what happens.

“I think they were trying to do a little too much, swinging at everything,” Lang said. “I said, ”˜Guys, we’ve just got to make them make some plays. Don’t try to make the perfect hit, just put the ball in play.’”

The Rams took Lang’s advice to heart in the fourth, and it paid dividends immediately when leadoff hitter Liz Cable reached on an error. That opened the door, and five hits and another error later, a three-run deficit became a 5-3 lead on the way to an 8-5 victory.

“That was really nice. I was pleasantly surprised,” senior Carrin Burns said of the five-run outburst, which equaled the Rams’ run total in their first two contests. “We hadn’t been hitting much in the first two games, so that was nice to see some people get hits that haven’t.”

Burns was especially appreciative of the run support from the pitching circle, throwing a complete-game seven hitter and striking out eight for her second win of the season.

“Carrin did a great job,” Lang said. “We helped them get a few of their runs so she had to battle, and I thought she was very good.”

Burns had breezed through the first three innings, allowing just one base runner, but ran into trouble in the fourth when Morgan Richmond knocked a leadoff triple. Tucker followed with a squeeze bunt that scored Richmond. Tucker scored herself on Colleen Holtan’s double one batter later, and Holtan scored with two outs on a wild pitch for Windham’s third run.

But after Lang’s pep talk and the error that allowed Cable to reach, the Kennebunk bats awoke in the five-run bottom of the fourth, with four singles sandwiching a Brittany Madore two-run double in a string of five straight hits off Eagles starter Tucker.

Aggressive base running was also crucial in the rally, as Rams runners continually took extra bases on wayward Windham throws to get into scoring position and take away force plays.

“We’ve always tried to be aggressive,” Lang said. “They’re going to throw us out sometimes but we try to push the envelope and make them make plays. It paid off for us today.”

After allowing the Eagles to get one back in the fifth to make it a 5-4 score, Burns smashed Tucker’s first pitch of the bottom half of the inning over the center-field fence to get the run right back, and the Rams added two more on Allison King’s single to take an 8-4 edge.

“I was really excited because I know (Tucker) and her dad (Windham coach Mark Tucker),” Burns said of the home run. “I just saw a pitch I liked and hit it.”

“That inning changed a lot,” added Lang. “Fortunately, we were able to only let them get one there, and we came right back and got a couple, and then the game felt a little more in our favor.”

Windham had one last rally in the seventh, and with runners on first and third and two outs, it looked like Holtan had extended the game with a single that scored a run.

But Tucker tripped rounding second on the play, and clearly in pain, stayed on the ground, allowing shortstop Brennan Cain to tag her for the final out of the three-run victory.

“It was kind of too bad the way that went down,” Lang said. “It looked like she hurt her knee. We hope she’ll be OK.”

No matter how it came, the win improved Kennebunk to 2-1 heading into a Wednesday clash with 3-2 Westbrook, an early season clash that could go a long way in determining playoff seeding in a month’s time.

“We’re a young team,” Lang said. “At the beginning of the year, my hope was we’d hang in there and get better as the year goes on and go out there and battle. Two up, one down, I’ll guess we’ll take that right now.”

— Staff Writer Cameron Dunbar can be contacted at 282-1535, Ext. 323.



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