Grace McGouldrick, who likes to talk to herself when she’s at the plate, heeded her own positive advice Thursday in an SMAA softball opener at Payson Park.

McGouldrick doubled twice, tripled, raced home with the tie-breaking run on a passed ball in the sixth inning, and also threw a four-hitter with 11 strikeouts to help Gorham beat Portland, 2-1.

“Our goal was to start on a good note and we did that,” said McGouldrick, who will play for the University of Maine next year. “We lost to Portland last year, so coming here today and beating them on their field on opening day shows how much we’ve worked and how much we’ve grown.”

McGouldrick gave the Rams some confidence in the first inning when she ripped a one-out triple to score Tatyanna Biamby, who led off the game with a single and moved to second on an error.

The Bulldogs, who reached the Class A South championship game a year ago, answered in the bottom of the first when Casey Harmon scored on a throwing error, but McGouldrick and Jess Brown of Portland slammed the door from there. Neither team scored again until the sixth.

The Bulldogs nearly broke the tie in the third when Grace Stacey singled with two outs and runners and first and second.

But right fielder Michelle Rowe threw out pinch-runner Olivia Ives at the plate.

“Michelle has an arm and she’s made that play before, and she has the championship mentality,” said Rams Coach Renee Whipkey of Rowe, a basketball standout in the winter. “She did what she had to do out there.”

McGouldrick led off the sixth by lacing a double down the left-field line and when the ball was bobbled, she scooted into third.

“When I’m up to the plate, I talk to myself and say positive things to myself,” McGouldrick said.

“I just try to keep it simple. Against the best pitchers that’s the thing to do.”

Brown struck out the next hitter, but with Shay Harris at the plate, a passed ball went to the backstop and McGouldrick scored the go-ahead run.

“We knew we had to capitalize on anything given to us against a good team,” Whipkey said.

McGouldrick retired Laini Legere, Brown and Grace Stacey in order in the sixth, then produced another clean inning in the bottom of the seventh.

She set down the final 12 batters she faced, striking out Ives and Alexis Fiore to end it.

Brown was the hard-luck loser for Portland. She allowed just two runs on six hits, striking out 14 and coming up with two of the Bulldogs’ four hits.

“I knew the pitching matchup would be tough and we wouldn’t get too many chances,” said Portland Coach Robbie Ferrante. “It was a well-played game. They just had a little bit more.

“I think we’ll eventually be fine.We’re a different team this year with a different lineup. Everybody is coming for us. That’s fine. I guess we created it.”