SACO — It was not an especially clean game by either team. But no one from Noble High’s softball team was going to complain.

The Knights, behind the pitching of Raegan Kelly and a big swing by Abby Lewis, handed Thornton Academy its first loss of the season on Monday afternoon, beating the Trojans 5-3 in a matchup of two of the top programs in Class A South.

Lewis hit a three-run home run in the top of the fourth that put the Knights ahead for good. Kelly used an effective change-up to strike out 10, including back-to-back Ks to end the game.

Noble is 6-1, its lone loss 6-0 to unbeaten Scarborough, while the Trojans dropped to 8-1.

“We definitely needed to win this game, to pick ourselves up and get in the right direction,” said Kelly. “And I thought it was important to see the heart in us, that we have the drive to bounce back from a loss.”

The Knights trailed twice, 1-0 when Kaitlin Verreault hit Kelly’s first pitch of the game for a home run, and 2-1, when Verreault scored on a single by Olivia Howe in the third. But Verreault’s home run also changed the way Kelly pitched.

She used her change-up more to keep the hard-hitting Trojans off-balance. Noble Coach Rick Melanson credited senior catcher Mackenzie Aleva with changing the pitch plan.

“She’s calling every pitch,” said Melanson. “They’re a good hitting team and sometimes she threw the change-up two, three times in a row to keep them off-balance.”

“The first pitch swing by Katie Verreault set the tone of how aggressive their batters were going to be,” said Aleva. “I knew that they were going to go up swinging so we needed to catch them off-guard. We needed to throw the change-up.”

The Knights took control with a four-run fourth, then got out of a couple of jams behind Kelly’s pitching and good defense, especially by first baseman Jordan Boucher.

In the fourth, Aleva led off with a single, one of her three hits. She went all the way to third on a sacrifice bunt by Kassidy Lessard, then scored on a grounder to short by Boucher – who beat the throw to first.

After a walk, Lewis hit her first home run of the season, a towering drive over the left-center field fence.

She sprinted the entire way around the bases before she was mobbed at home.

“I knew it was going over right when I hit but I guess it just got into my head and I sprinted,” said Lewis.

“It was amazing to see Abby Lewis, who works hard on her swing, drive one over the fence,” said Kelly.

The Trojans came back with a run in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single by Verreault, but also had a runner thrown out at home – a perfect relay from Lessard in center field to Kelly to Aleva – and stranded runners at second and third. Thornton put runners on second and third with no outs in the fifth, but couldn’t score.

“She’s a great pitcher,” said Thornton Coach John Provost. “We battled. … She did a tremendous job. She buckled down when she needed to.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

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Twitter: MikeLowePPH

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