May 16, 2013

HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL: Michaud lifts Raiders to 9th straight win

By Matt DiFilippo mdifilippo@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WALES -- As her team left the dugout to play defense after the bottom of the fifth, Oak Hill softball coach Allyson Collins called out, "Hey, that's a heckuva inning."

Yeah, you could say that.

Oak Hill had six straight hits in the bottom of the fifth and 10 in the inning for a total of eight runs. That turned a close game into a runaway and the Raiders took a 9-0 decision over Dirigo on Thursday afternoon.

"We always tend to have one good inning where we're right on it," said Oak Hill pitcher Kortni Michaud, who threw a four-hit shutout and was 3 for 4 at the plate. "I think we were just doing a good job in the box -- watching it off of her hip, then getting our timing down, just staying back and driving the ball. Luckily, we hit all the holes we could. It was awesome."

Oak Hill's win was its ninth straight. Dirigo (8-4) is one of the top teams in the Mountain Valley Conference, so this may have been the Raiders' best overall performance of the season.

"Today was pretty exceptional," Collins said. "We've played well, but this was an exceptional game. Some of the plays we made on defense were just out of this world, and the hits strung together, we haven't hit like that all year."

Ironically, this was a pitchers' duel -- and a really good one -- for 4 1/2 innings. The game started at 4:27 p.m., and by 4:50, the third inning was over. Michaud and Dirigo's Cami Denny were both throwing strikes and getting numerous one-pitch outs.

Oak Hill (9-2) got what looked like it might be the game's only run in the bottom of the fourth. After Alyssa Rouleau was robbed of a hit by Dirigo shortstop Emma Lueders, Michaud drilled a shot to deep left-center that would have been out of many parks. She settled for a triple, and when Brooke LeBel failed twice to lay down a bunt and then beat out an infield single, Michaud scooted home from third.

With one out and a runner on first in the bottom of the fifth, the Raiders suddenly began timing Denny's pitches. The first five batters in Oak Hill's lineup got five straight hits, all on the first pitch. Kelsey Collins tripled home a run and Jamie Prue got a bunt single when Dirigo catcher Tasha DeRoche barely missed a diving catch.

Rouleau and Michaud followed with singles to load the bases and then LeBel singled up the middle for two more runs, as Rouleau just beat a strong throw home from Dirigo center fielder Megan Bradbury. LeBel clapped her hands hard once at first base and Oak Hill's lead had gone from 1-0 to 5-0 in about two minutes.

"We knew we it was a big game coming in, so we were really, really pumped," LeBel said. "We've been working on hitting a lot -- just stay on top of the ball. We've been working on bunting -- get everything down. We were just really confident in ourselves. We're confident in every single person that comes up to the plate."

Lauren Beganny ended up with two singles in the inning, while Kelsey Collins had a triple and a double. Kayla Veilleux and Brianna Hodgkins added to the festivities with their own hits.

Rouleau also made a nice play at shortstop, going onto the outfield grass with an outstretched glove to nab a looper by Natalie Bolduc. Third baseman Sadie Goulet also preserved the shutout in the seventh by catching a runner off third.

Otherwise, Michaud made things easy for the defense. She faced 26 batters and threw 22 first-pitch strikes. She never went to a three-ball count on any batter and threw 70 pitches over seven innings.

"Kortni was unbelievable today," Coach Collins said. "She hit the outside corner. I mean, she was painting it, and then she came back in hard. Her change-up was working well. It kept them off balance. She was a little nerved up before the game, but she really just (bore) down and hit her spots."

Matt DiFilippo -- 861-9243

mdifilippo@centralmaine.com

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