POLAND — When she walked the first to batters of the game, it appeared Poland pitcher Atlantis Martin was in for a rough start Wednesday.
Then she picked up the first of her 12 strikeouts, got out of the first-inning jam and helped the Knights knock out the Raiders 13-3 in a non-conference softball game at Poland Regional High School.
“I’m kind of used to it because — I don’t want to say I always have a bad inning in the beginning, but I usually have that rough start, and then I pull myself out of it,” Martin, a junior, said. “So it does feel good, though, to be able to pull myself out of it, and it definitely helps the team, too.”
The Knights (5-2) wasted no time getting going offensively in the bottom of the first inning.
Freshman Khloe O’Leary the pace-setter. She laced a grounder through the infield for a leadoff double, moved to third on Gabby Bolduc’s bloop single, then scored on older sister Kaylin O’Leary’s RBI groundout.
Poland coach Katrina Seeley called the early offense “wonderful.”
“We’ve been off for a little while, so I think that getting back together and getting on the field, it’s something that I know we can do,” she said. “Usually it takes a couple innings to get to, but they come together and they swing the bat and hit the ball.”
Poland broke the game open with eight runs in the bottom of the third against Raiders (3-7) starter Mia Valliere. No. 9 hitter Gretchyn Paradis led off with a walk, then Khloe O’Leary followed with a single and Bolduc walked to load the bases.
One run scored on a passed ball, Kaylin O’Leary and Emma Bunyea both had RBI singles, Emma Gagne drove in two more with a single, another passed ball scored a run, and Khloe O’Leary drove in the final two runs of the inning with another single.
“I don’t necessarily feel like that all the time, but I definitely feel like if I start it off then the rest of the team will just follow,” O’Leary said. “But if I don’t, then we have a great lineup the rest of the way.”
The Raiders committed three errors in the inning and had seven in the game.
“It’s just one of those things, you just take a pitch at a time, and a field and hit at a time, and go from there,” Oak Hill coach Don Theriault said. “I mean, once you get one or two errors they tend to get down, but as long as they keep getting up and coming to the next pitch, that’s all that matters. And not to mention, Poland’s a good team, they hit the ball hard. You can’t take it away from them.”
The Raiders recovered a little in the top of the fourth, finally breaking onto the scoreboard. Kelsey Young, who relieved Valliere on the mound after the third, led off the frame with a single, moved to second on a groundout, third on an error, then got home in time to score when Valliere was caught in a rundown.
The Knights answered with a run of their own in the bottom of the fourth. Bunyea reached on an error and scored on Gagne’s single.
Poland scored two more runs in the fifth. Paradis hit a one-out single and scored on Khloe O’Leary’s hard grounder that resulted in an Oak Hill error, then O’Leary came home herself on Bolduc’s bunt that led to another error.
The Raiders got to Martin in the sixth, hitting four straight one-out singles (Adelle Surette, Young, Nataleigh Moody, Peighton Theriault) to score two runs. Martin recovered and struck out the next two batters to end the inning.
Martin then led off the bottom of the sixth with an inside-the-park home run to center. It was her first hit of the game in her fourth at-bat.
“I think that was definitely a lot of my frustration coming out,” Martin said. “Also the frustration of not hitting at all in the beginning, and then getting one big hit, I think that definitely led to that.”
Martin pitched a 1-2-3 top of the seventh, including strikeouts to start and end the frame. The two first-inning walks were her only free passes of the game, and she scattered six hits.
“Usually I would pitch more than just a fastball and a changeup, but we decided just to do my fastball today, and it was working,” Martin said. “The strike zone wasn’t as wide as I would like it to be, but it was pretty good.”