AUBURN — Edward Little focused on hitting line drives and running out hits in practices leading up to the team’s rematch with rival Lewiston on Wednesday.
As the Red Eddies stared down yet another deficit to the Blue Devils in the final innings, the little things that were drilled into the players’ collective heads became imperative in the comeback that was capped off with a Leah Thibodeau infield single for a 7-6 KVAC softball victory.
“There’s only so much you can tell them on game day and too many in-game adjustments is sensory overload,” Edward Little (4-4) coach Elaine Derosby said. “In practice over these last couple of days, we’ve just been talking about how we need to be hitting line drives… And then yesterday at practice we talked about getting down the baseline faster and attempting to get some infield hits, and today I saw that.”
In the bottom of the sixth inning, EL’s McKenzi Horton led the inning off with a single, followed by doubles from Amanda Raymond and Thibodeau. Thibodeau’s double scored two runners, then she was driven in to tie the game at 6-6 by Emma Samson’s single.
Thibodeau, a freshman, returned to the mound after giving up just one run in the previous two innings she pitched in relief of starter Maddy Scott and sat Lewiston’s Nos. 5, 6 and 7 batters down in order.
“Leah is steady,” Derosby said. “… She’s not going to throw with a lot of velocity as a freshman but she’s going to hit spots. When we ask her to get ground balls, she’ll get ground balls. She’s not a strikeout pitcher yet but she can get ground balls and that’s what she did today.”
For Thibodeau, it was all about keeping her composure.
“We were down a couple runs and I was going in and I felt positive,” Thibodeau said. “I just really had to stay calm on the mound and do my job just to get those runs back and help my team get it tied up, and hope we can rally back.”
Being steady with the ball in your hand and keeping the score stagnant is one thing for the freshman, but Derosby said Thibodeau can “get a little wound up.” So, when Horton reached on a fielder’s choice and was moved to third by a single from Raymond, it was up to her to zero in on the task at hand at the plate and remember the goals of her recent practices.
“My mind was like scrambled for a good 30 seconds,” Thibodeau said. “Once coach said to take a breath, I really knew I needed to reel it in, focus and get it done.”
Thibodeau grounded a ball to the third baseman and took off down the line to first, beating the throw and driving in Horton in the process to walk-off with the win.
Leah Thibodeau of Edward Little beats out a single to score the game-winning run from third and finish off the comeback win over Lewiston, 7-6. Wow. @Sports_SJ @ELHSEDDIES @LHSBlueDevils #VarsityMaine pic.twitter.com/pyj7I6jM9g
— Adam Robinson (@FunkFlashyRob) May 12, 2021
“I just ran as fast as I could to get it done,” Thibodeau added.
Lewiston (1-5) had taken a 3-0 lead in the top of the third inning when Charlotte Cloutier reached on an error and later scored on a Gemma Landry double. Landry scored on a wild pitch and later in the inning Makenzie Anderson walked and eventually came around to score off an Abby Chartier double.
In the bottom of the third, Thibodeau walked and scored on a Maddie Emmert triple. Emmert was driven in by Hannah Smith’s double to close the deficit to 3-2 after three innings.
In the fourth, Lewiston’s Brooklyn Mynahan drilled a home run to straight-away center field off of a tree to make it 4-2. Later in the inning, Landry singled and was driven home by Morgan Brown’s single.
Chartier hit a solo home run of her own in the fifth inning into right-center field to go up 6-3 and Lewiston’s bats were in rhythm.
“We were hitting the ball well, we were definitely hitting the ball well,” Lewiston coach Ryan Cormier said. “We worked on a ton of hitting coming into this game and we hit the ball hard. A lot of the time we hit it right at people but I’m proud of how we hit. We wanted to get our strikeouts down and that’s exactly what we did.”
Lewiston’s starting pitcher, Izzy Cormier, stayed in the whole game and Ryan Cormier said he had his full support behind her the entire way.
“We have confidence in her finishing games and anyone we put in there we are going to have confidence,” Ryan Cormier said. “We’re going to ride until we need to. Taking her out? No, she did well enough to stay in. We were getting the hits we needed to but a couple things just didn’t go our way.”
After losing to Lewiston 10-7 earlier in the season, the Red Eddies were raring to go on Wednesday.
“We knew Lewiston was going to be a real solid team and hard to beat so we came ready mentally and we pulled it off,” Thibodeau said. “It feels pretty good (to win). The first game we lost to them, so it felt even better to beat them today.”