SACO—Chloe Wilcox and Erin Elder blasted back-to-back solo homers for the Eagles in the top of the third at Thornton Academy on Friday, June 7, seizing the lead and the momentum for their girls – but not for long. The Trojans charged back in the bottom of the same inning, piling up five runs of their own, the better part of an eventual 8-2 triumph.

“[Thornton’s] got a lot of bats in their lineup,” Windham head coach Fred Wilcox said. “It’s not like you can get the first four or five; they’ve got 1-15 or 16 over there who can hit the ball. And we’ve got some young players in some important positions. When those girls make some [mistakes], they kind of get down on themselves and get in some quicksand where they make a few more mistakes.

“They battled today, though – they really did hang in there today,” Coach Wilcox went on. “That’s something they’re going to have to work on, going forward in their careers. They’re just going to have to brush it off and get back to playing softball. Because they’re good players.”

The bout, a semifinals match, shunted the Eagles back to the sidelines till 2020 at 11-7. Windham went 10-6 through the regular season, earning the seven-seed in a tough A South. They then battered Marshwood 7-1 in the prelims to earn their shot – a rematch of their spring opener – with TA. When the Eagles and the Trojans clashed back in mid-April, the latter won 5-3.

The opening innings passed scorelessly: Olivia Howe started on the mound for TA and Whitney Wilson for Windham – two southern Maine aces, both sporting excellent defenses behind them to help keep opposition runners off the bases. TA did threaten in the bottom of the first, getting girls to second and third, while the Eagles repaid that disfavor at their next opportunity, Ellie Wilson reaching second after walking on and Sarah Elder reaching second after singling a trickler towards third. Both Wilson and Elder found themselves caught out on fielder’s choices as they tried for third, however.

On the mound, Wilson seemed to need time to settle in. “Sort of, sort of,” said Coach Wilcox. “With TA’s lineup, you’re not trying to be as close to the plate as you normally would be. You’re trying to make them swing at a few things. That’s where Whit was starting off.”

“I think she started to settle and she started bringing it a little bit more when she realized they weren’t making great contact,” Coach Wilcox said. “Whit’s pretty good about hitting spots.”

Windham cracked their knuckles in the top of the third: Wilson struck out to lead things off, but Chloe Wilcox stepped into the box behind her and wasted little time connecting and sending a Howe pitch over the distant fence. Erin Elder followed Wilcox to the plate and wasted even less time demoralizing Howe – Elder’s homerun came on the first pitch she faced. Bam. 2-0.

Windham looked, in that moment, like they were about to catch fire. “Yeah, when we got out of that bases-loaded jam and scored a couple runs, I thought we gave ourselves a pretty good chance,” Coach Wilcox said. “We just – a couple of blunders, and you can’t do that against TA, because they’re going to come back and make it hurt. And they did. They’re a great team.”

From there the Trojans took the wheel. Howe, Abby Miner, Hannah Collins, Madison Vachon and Olivia Paradis all crossed the plate for the home team in the bottom of the third. Wilson walked Paradis and hit Howe with a pitch, Erin Elder uncharacteristically dropped a flyball in centerfield and TA logged a trio of good, old-fashioned hits to flip the game on its head.

“It was great for us to come out and get on top early,” Coach Wilcox said. “But against teams like this, you have to almost play perfect softball. Our girls have had a few games this year where they’ve kicked it around a little bit, and they know that when they kick it around, bad things have happened with our team. I think they got into that mentality a little bit.”

Shyler Fielding singled for the Eagles in the top of the fourth, Callie Fielding in the top of the fifth, and one or two other Windhamites reached base on walks as the game elapsed, but the Trojans ultimately put in the winning effort. Howe, Miner and Collins all scored again for the team in the bottom of the sixth, capping TA’s offense for the day and securing victory.

“[Howe’s] got some pretty good speed,” Coach Wilcox said of the Trojans’ pitcher. “And a few of our hitters get their front foot up, and that little kick, a little bit, it makes them late on their swing. So we worked in practice a little bit, trying to keep that front foot down and just try to swing the contact – instead of trying to get the big swing, get the big hit, make contact, put it in play and make them play the ball a little bit. So that was sort of my strategy today.”

Coach Wilcox sounded off on what went right for his girls. “Number one to me: energy,” he said. “I wanted to see them come out and battle…And they did, they brought everything today. Our Captains led really well: They hit the ball, they pitched the ball well. They other kids feed off [that]. Only three of these girls have ever been to a playoff game before this season. So when they get into a game like this, they don’t know what to expect. They’re kind of counting on the returning varsity players to lead them in whatever they’re doing.”

Read about Windham’s season-opener vs. TA here.

Adam Birt can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.

Windhamite Ellen Files grabs a flyball in rightfield.

Amanda Foss watches the action at home from her post at third.

Eagle Ellie Wilson zips toward third base.

Windham first baseman Kayla Gorman stretches out as a throw comes her way.

Chloe Wilcox rounds third after connecting with her homer.

The Eagles wait on the far side of home plate to welcome Chloe Wilcox, fresh off her homer.

Erin Elder rounds the bases on the way home after belting a ball over the outfield fence.

Ellie Wilson womans short for the Eagles.

Shyler Fielding grabs a flyball for the Eagles.

Eagles watch from the dugout as one of their battles at the plate.

Either Chloe Wilcox knows she’s on camera, or she’s just smiling big because she’s on base.

Whitney Wilson unfurls into a pitch.

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