BOX SCORE

Portland 6 Marshwood 5

M- 111 010 1- 5 8 0
P- 010 122 X- 6 8 0

Top 1st
Mitchell grounded out to first, Bennett scored.

Top 2nd
Roper scored on Scheive squeeze bunt.

Bottom 2nd
Connolly flew out to right, McCrum scored.

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Top 3rd
Mitchell singled to center, Davis scored.

Bottom 4th
Connolly singled to right, McCrum scored.

Top 5th
Davis doubled to right, Eastman scored.

Bottom 5th
Armstrong homered to center, King and Armstrong scored.

Bottom 6th
King singled to center, Vigue scored. Armstrong singled to left, Hawkes scored.

Top 7th
Eastman doubled to right, Scheive scored.

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Multiple hits:
M- Davis, Eastman
P- Armstrong, Daniels

Runs:
M- Bennett, Davis, Eastman, Roper, Scheive
P- McCrum 2, Armstrong, Hawkes, King, Vigue

RBI:
M- Mitchell 2, Davis, Eastman, Scheive
P- Armstrong 3, Connolly 2, King

Doubles:
M- Davis, Eastman, Tsakiris

Triple:
M- Davis

Home run:
P- Armstrong

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Stolen bases:
M- Eastman, Mitchell
P- Daniels, McCrum

Left on base:
M- 4
P- 6

Bennett and Davis; Armstrong and Daniels.

M:
Bennett (L) 6 IP 8 H 6 R 6 ER 5 BB 1 K 1 HBP

P:
Armstrong (W) 7 IP 8 H 5 R 5 ER 2 BB 6 K 1 WP

Time: 1:40

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PORTLAND—Portland’s softball team has gotten off to such a good and surprising start this spring that in its first four outings, the Bulldogs never trailed.

But Monday afternoon at Payson Park, Portland finally had to play from behind against visiting Marshwood and the way the Bulldogs responded suggested that they might just be a legitimate contender.

The Hawks scored single runs in the first three innings to go up, 3-1, and after Portland got a run back in the fourth, on senior centerfielder Vanessa Connolly’s second RBI of the game, Marshwood took a 4-2 advantage to the bottom of the fifth.

Where Bulldogs pitcher and top slugger, junior Sadie Armstrong, tied the game with one mighty swing, a two-run home run.

In the bottom of the sixth, two-out RBI singles from senior Jordan King and Armstrong put Portland on top, but in the seventh, the Hawks answered with a run and had the tying run in scoring position before Armstrong managed to register the final two outs and the Bulldogs held on for a 6-5 victory.

Armstrong had two hits, three RBI and earned the win as Portland improved to 5-0 on the season, dropping Marshwood to 1-3 in the process.

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“I am surprised we’ve done this well, but it’s a testament to who these girls are,” said Bulldogs coach Jason McLeod. “They’re good teammates and they play really well. The girls have it in their heads to be the best they can possibly be every single game. If they do, good things will happen to us as a team.”

Turnaround

After a sub-.500 season in 2021, the Bulldogs have gotten off to a great start this spring.

Portland won its first four outings, 11-1 (in five-innings) versus Bonny Eagle, 20-1 (in five-innings) against Deering, 18-2 (in five-innings) over Falmouth and 6-4 at home over Gorham.

Marshwood, meanwhile, started with a 17-2 (five-inning) win over Falmouth, then lost to Kennebunk (10-4) and Massabesic (9-5).

The Bulldogs and Hawks didn’t play in 2021, as scheduling was limited and regionalized due to COVID-limitations.

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Monday, on yet another chilly, breezy afternoon (52 degrees at first pitch), the squads met for the first time since April 24, 2019 (a 7-6 Portland win in South Berwick), where the Bulldogs again eked out a one-run decision.

Armstrong started the contest by getting second baseman Jadyn Eastman to pop out to short, but she walked her opposite number, pitcher Lindsay Bennett, then also walked catcher Mackenzie Davis on a 3-2 pitch. After a wild pitch moved the runners up, first baseman Sophie Mitchell made contact and grounded out to first with Bennett coming home with the game’s first run. Davis went to third on the play, then tried to steal home, but Armstrong threw to senior Gabby Daniels for the out to retire the side and keep the score 1-0.

The Bulldogs threatened in the bottom half, as sophomore second baseman Hannah Hawkes drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch and King did the same, but Armstrong lined to short and King was doubled off of first on the play. Senior rightfielder Halle Chase then flew out to center to end the threat.

Marshwood added another un in the top of the second, as shortstop Louise Roper led off by beating out an infield single to shortstop, then she raced into third when designated player Faith Tsakiris blooped a double to right. Armstrong fanned third baseman Maddie LaBreck, but rightfielder Alexys Scheive laid down a perfect squeeze bunt to score Roper to make it 2-0. Leftfielder Bella Pomarico then grounded out to second for the final out of the frame.

Portland senior catcher Gabby Daniels keeps her eye on the ball early in the Bulldogs’ 6-5 win over Marshwood Monday. Hoffer photos.

In the bottom half, sophomore first baseman Ainsley McCrum led off by blooping a single to center, then she stole second. After freshman leftfielder Hadleigh McPartlan popped out foul to Davis on a bunt, Daniels bounced a single up the middle to put runners at the corners. After Daniels stole second, Connolly flew out to right and McCrum came home to cut the deficit in half. Freshman shortstop Ruby Chase then made good contact, but lined out to left for the third out.

The Hawks struck again in the top of the third, as Eastman flew out deep to center leading off and Bennett chased strike three, but Davis crushed a drive to deep left-center and while McPartlan got to the ball, she couldn’t quite snare it and Davis made it all the way to third with a triple before Mitchell followed with a single to center to make it 3-1. Mitchell stole second, but was stranded when Armstrong caught Roper looking at strike three.

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In the bottom half, Bennett hit Hawkes on the foot leading off, but King lined out to third and that resulted in a double play, as Hawkes was forced out at first. Armstrong then worked the count full before being called out on strike three.

Armstrong then had her best inning in the top of the fourth, getting Tsakiris to ground out to second on the first pitch, striking out LaBreck swinging and getting Scheive to pop up in front of the plate and racing in and snaring the ball for the third out.

In the bottom half, Chase flew out deep to center, but McCrum drew a walk and after McPartlan popped out to third, Daniels reached on a fielder’s choice grounder to short, with McCrum moving to second. That set the stage for Connolly to produce an RBI single to right. Chase then reached on an infield single to load the bases, but Hawkes popped out foul to first to keep the score 3-2.

Portland junior pitcher Sadie Armstrong throws a strike past Marshwood leftfielder Bella Pomarico.

Marshwood would back on top by two in the top of fifth, as after Armstrong got Pomarico to ground out to second, Eastman beat out an infield single to the hole between short and third and after Bennett popped out to second and Eastman stole second, Davis came through with a bloop double to right to score Eastman. Mitchell then lined out to first, where McCrum made a nice play and while the Bulldogs were down two, the defensive gem sparked a rally in the bottom of the fifth.

A rally that was highlighted by one mighty swing.

After King drew a walk leading off, Armstrong strode to the plate and turned on the first pitch she saw. Armstrong made solid contact and the ball rose high into the air and sailed over the centerfield fence and just like that, Portland was chasing no more and had tied the score, 4-4.

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“(Assistant coach) Ashley Anderson said, ‘Sadie, you’re going to hit over the fence’ and I said, ‘no, don’t say that,’ but on the first pitch, that’s exactly what she did,” McLeod said.

Chase then grounded out to second, McCrum bounced back to the mound and McPartlan grounded out to second, but the Bulldogs had momentum.

In the top of the sixth, Armstrong got Roper to pop to second, then struck out both Tsakiris and pinch-hitter Taylor LaBreck swinging.

Portland then went on top in the bottom half.

Daniels got things started by reaching on an infield hit and sophomore Katilyn Vigue came on to run. Vigue moved up to second when Connolly bounced out to second and Chase popped out to short, but Hawkes kept the inning alive by drawing a walk, then King delivered a single to center, scoring Vigue and moving Hawkes to third. Armstrong then delivered a clutch hit as well, an RBI single to left, bringing home Hawkes to make it 6-4.

“We put the bat on the ball on good pitches,” McLeod said. “We didn’t chase bad pitches. We only struck out once all day. We just needed to put it together and it happened later rather than sooner. You’ll score runs when you can put the bat on the ball.

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“We weren’t afraid to be behind. We were chasing today and it was a good thing to learn from. We didn’t panic and played relaxed.”

Chase grounded out to short, but the Bulldogs were on the brink of victory.

The Hawks refused to go quietly, however, in the top of the seventh, resulting in some anxious moments.

Scheive led off with a single to center and moved up when Pomarico bounced out to first. That brought up Eastman, who ripped a double to right, scoring Scheive and putting the tying run on second. Armstrong refused to buckle, however, getting Bennett to fly out to right, then inducing a fly ball out to right off the bat of Davis as well and Portland held on for a 6-5 victory.

“We still have to work on closing out games,” McLeod said. “The other day, we were ahead of Gorham, 6-1, then won, 6-4. Today, we were ahead by two and gave up a run. We just have to play like we do in the previous innings because when we play loose, we’re great.”

Armstrong sparked the offense with two hits, three RBI and a run scored and she also earned the win on the mound, allowing five runs on eight hits in seven innings, walking two and striking out six.

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“Sadie was hurt the entire season last year,” McLeod said. “She was never 100 percent. There were so many expectations on her. This year, she’s in a much better spot mentally and physically.”

Daniels also had two hits.

McCrum scored twice and Hawkes, King and Vigue also touched home plate.

Connolly had two RBI and King delivered the go-ahead run.

The Bulldogs stranded six baserunners.

Marshwood got two hits apiece from Davis and Eastman.

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Bennett, Davis, Eastman, Roper and Scheive all scored runs.

Mitchell had two RBI, while Davis, Eastman and Scheive all had one.

The Hawks left four runners on.

Bennett took the loss, giving up six runs on eight hits in six innings, walking five and striking out one.

Busy week

Marshwood returns to action Wednesday when Noble pays a visit. The Hawks go to Scarborough Thursday.

Portland travels to Kennebunk Wednesday, hosts Noble Friday, then plays at Massabesic Monday of next week.

“Kennebunk has a very good pitcher and some other very good players,” McLeod said. “They put the bat on the ball and play good defense.

“Each day, we’re trying to get one percent better than the previous day and if we can continue that mindset, good things will happen.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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