ELLSWORTH — In need of a win to buoy its Class B North playoff chances, the Mount Desert Island High School softball team came through when it mattered most.
Several times already this season, MDI has come up short of wins that could have sent it shooting up the Northern Maine standings. Instead, the Trojans have seen their valiant efforts fall short in tight losses to Hermon, Old Town and Foxcroft.
On Monday, though, another opportunity presented itself for MDI. This time, the Trojans grabbed it and didn’t let go.
MDI scored six runs in the final three innings Monday to earn an 8-4 victory over Ellsworth at Ellsworth High School. The win catapulted the Trojans into a Class B North playoff position with six games remaining in the 2019 regular season.
“We needed to take a game like this that was worth a lot of points for us in the standings,” MDI head coach Jamey Lewis said. “To come in here and battle back after falling behind is a really good win for us.”
After Tyler Hellum held MDI (5-5) scoreless through the first inning, Ellsworth scored three runs off the Trojans’ Lindsey McEachern in the bottom of the frame to take an early lead. MDI then used base hits from Mackenzie Dyer, Ruby Brown and Hannah Hanscom in the top of the second to cut Ellsworth’s lead to 3-2.
Ellsworth (7-2) failed to score in the second inning but stretched its lead to 4-2 in the third when Abby Moon’s fielder’s choice to the pitcher’s circle scored Kayla Duhaime from third base. One-two-three innings from Hellum in the third and fourth kept the Eagles in front as they searched for their seventh straight win.
Instead, the Trojans batted around in the fifth inning to score four runs and turn a two-run deficit into a two-run lead before Ellsworth’s Mackenzie Chipman came into the game to relieve Hellum with one out. Chipman prevented the Eagles from building on their lead, but McEachern kept Ellsworth off the basepaths in the bottom of the inning to ensure MDI maintained its advantage entering the sixth.
MDI continued to pound the ball in the sixth inning, but Chipman made two strong defensive plays in the field to turn would-be base hits into outs. The Trojans weren’t kept at bay much longer, though, as McEachern made it 7-4 with an RBI single in the top of the seventh and closed out the game in the bottom half after Hannah Chamberlain’s single scored her from third.
“It always takes us a little bit to get used to the pitching, but we’re fine once we get used to the pitching,” McEachern said of MDI’s late-game prowess at the plate. “I’d get a hit, then Ruby would a hit, then Mackenzie would get a hit. We just kept our foot on the gas.”
Dyer led MDI with three hits at the plate, and Brown and McEachern had two apiece. Chamberlain, Leah Carroll, Olivia Gray and Hannah Hanscom also had base hits for the Trojans.
McEachern finished with 12 strikeouts for MDI while allowing two walks and conceding four unearned runs. Even after Ellsworth’s three-run first inning placed her in an early hole, the senior, who no-hit Washington Academy in the Trojans’ 12-0 win Saturday, was confident she could put it behind her and stifle the Ellsworth bats the rest of the way.
“My worst inning is usually the first inning. I don’t know why, but it always is and always has been,” McEachern said. “I feel I start to do a lot better as the game goes on because I get into a groove.”
Trinity Montigny recorded three base hits for Ellsworth, which totaled seven as a team. Katie Hammer added two singles for the Eagles, who also got hits from Ellie Clarke and Sara Shea.
With McEachern’s most dominant innings coinciding with MDI’s offensive breakthrough, Ellsworth just couldn’t string together the hits it needed to respond to the Trojans’ late-game breakthrough. The Eagles’ five errors in the field helped MDI complete the comeback and hindered the Eagles from making one of their own.
“You can’t make those mistakes that allow the other team to stay in the game,” Ellsworth head coach Jake Hackett said. “When you play a good team like MDI, you can’t leave that door open. You’ve got to shut it.”
Ellsworth will have plenty of chances to bounce back in the coming days. The Eagles play No. 1 Brewer (9-0) today, May 16, before playing on the road against George Stevens Academy (0-8), at home against John Bapst and away to Washington Academy tomorrow, May 17, Monday, May 20, and Tuesday, May 21, respectively. All four games are scheduled for 4:30 p.m. starts.
For MDI, the win over Ellsworth will provide plenty of Heal points throughout the rest of the season. More importantly, the 13th-ranked Trojans, who were scheduled to play Belfast on Wednesday, will have chances to rise even further in the Heals when they play 4:30 games today against Foxcroft (6-2) and Tuesday against Bucksport (8-1).
“This was the start we needed to get going for the rest of the season,” McEachern said. “We have some more big games coming up, and we’ll have a lot of confidence going into them.”