Defending state champion Oceanside softball outlasts pesky Camden HillsBrooke Dugan's bat, Tyler's arm help key Mariners to season-opening victory
Thomaston — The defending state Class B champion Oceanside softball team was embroiled in a nip-and-tuck, competitive, one-run, season-opening affair with Midcoast rival Camden Hills on Wednesday afternoon, April 23 when the complexion of the contest changed with one swing of Mariner Brooke Dugan's powerful bat.
In a tight affair, the Mariners led 4-3 in the bottom of the sixth inning when Brooke Dugan, who powered several balls over the fence last year in a stellar all-around campaign, belted a ball over the center fielder's head and cruised around the bases behind two of her teammates with a three-run home run to give the hosts breathing room.
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The contest, played in high-50s temperatures and occasional light rain, was at Thomaston Grammar School because the Mariners' home field next to Oceanside West Middle School was not playable by the 1 p.m. game start.
Oceanside's Paige Tyler (4 hits, 6 walks, 8 strikeouts) and Camden Hills' Hannah Corney (10 hits, walk, 4 strikeouts) worked in the pitching circle for their respective teams. Tyler earned the victory.
Keying the offense for the Mariners (1-0) were Trittany Penn (2 singles, stolen base, 2 runs), Brooke Dugan (single, double, home run, 3 runs, stolen base, 4 RBIs), Alexis Davis (single, double, run, RBI), Kayln Grover (double) and Brianna Dugan (single, double, run). The Dugans are sisters.
"Brooke Dugan picked right up where she left off last season leading us at the plate with three hits and a huge blast in the sixth inning to push us to victory with a three-run home run over the center fielder's head," said Oceanside coach Rusty Worcester.
For the Windjammers (0-1), Juliana Haynes (single), Bekah Hilt (single), Corney (single, run, 2 stolen bases), Marissa Libby (run, steal) and Hannah Bode (single, run) led the charge.
There were several strong defensive plays by both teams, with perhaps the best being Windjammer third baseman Maddie Bowman, who made a stellar play in the infield.
The Mariners took a 2-0 lead in the first inning as Penn led with a single, stole second and moved to third on a passed ball. She scored on Brooke Dugan's single. Brooke Dugan stole second and moved to third on passed ball. She crossed the plate on Davis' two-out single.
Camden Hills knotted the game with two runs in the second inning, as the Windjammers took advantage of walks. Corney walked and stole second and third, before she crossed the plate. Libby also walked and stole second and moved to third on a passed ball. She also scored. Bode had a single in the inning as the Windjammers sent eight batters to the plate and drew four free passes in the stanza.
The Windjammers threatened in the third inning as Hilt and Corney had hits, and Libby walked, but Tyler escaped further trouble.
"Paige Tyler gutted it out today. She recently had a displaced hip that was pinching a nerve, she got it realigned and was cleared to play today and she worked on her control and was able to finish strong in today's performance," said Worcester. "She struggled early but didn't walk a batter after the fourth inning and was able to command her change-up in the end very well."
Oceanside took a 3-2 cushion in the third stanza as Brooke Dugan doubled with one out and scored on an outfield error.
Camden Hills tied the game 3-3 in the fourth stanza as Bode reached on an error and eventually scored.
The Mariners grabbed a 4-3 advantage in the fifth inning as Davis ripped a two-out double and scored on Grover's double.
"We played good defense, we only committed one error on the day," said Worcester. "We will continue to work at our game, but I was pleased with our performance today."
While Tyler recovered from early wildness to set down the Windjammers in order in the fifth through seventh innings, the Mariners added three insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth, as Brianna Dugan walked with out, Penn singled and Dugan smacked her three-run home run to center field with two outs.
"I felt like I barely even hit it and it kept going," said Brooke Dugan. "Then I thought, 'Oh, God, I hope [the outfielder] doesn't catch it. I just kept running … I was looking at coach [Worcester at third base] and he is telling me to go and I just kept running."
Brooke Dugan said it is a lot easier to see one of her batted balls sail over the fence for a home run because then she can relax and trot around the bases. When it goes over a fielder's head, like on Wednesday, then it is a race around the bases.
"It feels good to win the first [official] game of the season," she said, as the team lost all of its preseason games this spring. "It felt good. We are finally coming together."
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Ken Waltz has been member of the media 30 years and has received hundreds of Maine Press Association and New England Press Association awards for his writing, photography and page design. He studied journalism at the University of Maine in Orono. He lives in South Thomaston with his wife, Sarah. The couple has an adult son, Brandon.
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