SKOWHEGAN — It may be her first year of varsity softball, but Annabelle Morris knows the golden rule of baserunning.
Always run with two outs.
The freshman’s softball instincts came to fruition Saturday afternoon when she wheeled around from second base on a bloop single by senior Mariah Whittemore in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift the host River Hawks to a 3-2 walk-off win over Oxford Hills in the Class A North semifinal.
“I was just going to go,” Morris said. “My heart was racing.”
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Morris slid in before the throw could reach the catcher, securing second-seeded Skowhegan (17-1) a spot in the Class A North final for the firth straight season. They’ll play eighth-seeded Bangor in the regional final 6:30 p.m., Tuesday at Cony High School in Augusta.
Whittemore (1-for-4) made solid contact on a liner back to Oxford Hills pitcher Kiara McLeod in her first at-bat, but it was caught. She approached the plate in the bottom of the seventh looking to do damage, but Whittemore did not envision a bloop single as the way to get it done.
“No, definitely not,” she said. “I honestly thought they were going to catch it. It was a changeup. I went for it and it dropped.”
Oxford Hills (15-3) saw its seven-game win streak snapped. Vikings coach Cindy Goddard had a feeling Whittemore’s bloop would get down.
“I knew it was going to be a base hit and there was going to be a play at the plate,” Goddard said. “There were a lot of great plays out there.”
Annabelle Morris and her twin, Maddy Morris, both start for the River Hawks, the former in center field and the latter at second base. They last played school softball as Skowhegan Middle School seventh graders as the coronavirus pandemic wiped out the spring sports season across the state.
“It was a big adjustment,” Annabelle Morris said. “I wasn’t doing very well, but now there’s a huge difference.”
After bulldozing opponents through in the quarterfinals — Skowhegan topped Edward Little 12-1 and Oxford Hills blanked Camden Hills 10-0 — the River Hawks fell behind in the top of the second.
Vikings senior Olivia Gallan lined a two-out, two-run double to right-center field to make it 2-0.
The Morris twins helped tie things in the bottom half of the frame. Maddy Morris smacked a two-out RBI double, then the River Hawks loaded the bases and Annabelle Morris worked a four-pitch walk.
Pitchers settled down after the second inning. Skowhegan sophomore Sierra Carey picked up the complete-game victory, scattering seven hits while striking out five. McLeod went the distance for the Vikings, allowing seven hits and striking out three.
“It just came down to who was going to get the opportunity,” Skowhegan coach Lee Johnson said. “You’ve got to make the right play at the right time, and I’m proud of the kids.”
Skowhegan junior shortstop Jaycie Christopher took over in the seventh defensively. Gallan led off with a single, but Bella DeVivo lined a shot right at Christopher who doubled up Gallon at first. Christopher followed with a ranging play to her glove side to end the inning.
Annabelle Morris and Christopher started the seventh with back-to-back singles before Whittemore lifted a 1-0 pitch just past the infield dirt into right field. One of two seniors on the team along with Logan Wing, Whittemore looks forward to keeping her high school going.
“It’s going to be hard,” Whittemore said. “It’s going to be a fight, but I think we’ve got it in us.”