Thanks to some booming bats and a promising start from their ace pitcher, the South Portland Red Riots lived up to their billing Friday afternoon as one of the top softball teams in Class A South.

Sophomore Emilie Way paced a 13-hit attack with four hits, including a triple and a home run, and the Red Riots got a gem from Mia Micucci, who struck out 11, walked none, and allowed just five hits and no earned runs in a season-opening 10-3 win over Portland at Payson Park.

Micucci was just cleared to pitch earlier this week as she recovers from an injury to her pitching hand.

“It’s amazing to be back out here,” said Micucci. “I really missed it. Softball’s the sport I love. To be able to play with my friends I’ve known my whole life again is just amazing.”

After going down in order against Portland starter Sadie Armstrong (eight strikeouts, no walks in her debut), the Red Riots took the lead in the second, as Ella Nickerson reached on a two-base error and scored on Delaney Whitten’s two-out single.

In the third, South Portland tacked on two more unearned runs. Maddie Jamieson got the big hit – a two-out, two-run single.

Micucci worked around Rebekah Dunn’s one-out triple in the bottom of the first and recorded eight of her first nine outs via strikeouts.

The Red Riots then blew it open in the top of the fourth.

Way, making her first varsity start at second base because captain Chloe Grant was sidelined after having her wisdom teeth removed, tripled in a run. Andrea DiMauro followed with another RBI triple, another run scored on an infield single by Eliese Perron, and Elise Connor capped the uprising with a sharp ground ball through the infield that eventually rolled between the center fielder and left fielder for an unusual home run and an 8-0 lead.

“These girls can hit,” said Micucci. “We came ready to hit. It’s great to watch. It’s really nice to get that run support.”

The Bulldogs responded in the bottom half with three unearned runs, but with two down in the top of the fifth, Way crushed a home run to right-center to make it 9-3.

“Everyone hit today,” said Way. “I was just swinging and I was trying to run fast. It felt really good.”

A triple from Perron and an error brought in the final South Portland run in the sixth.

“You could tell at the beginning of the game it would come down to who could catch the ball,” said Red Riots Coach Ralph Aceto. “I was never worried about the hits. I knew we could hit the ball. I was worried about catching the ball. It’s a work in progress, but it’s getting better.”

Portland didn’t help Armstrong by making three errors.

“South Portland’s a really good team with a really good pitcher,” said Portland assistant coach Jason McLeod, filling in for the ailing Robbie Ferrante. “Their girls were amped to hit. They put the bat to the ball really well and it was too much for us to come back from.

“For us, from a big picture standpoint, we’re happy to get back out here after two years. We just want to draw as many positives as we can out of it.”

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