BRISTOL - Pitching with a one-run lead in an elimination game is no easy task, but Maine starting pitcher Madison Raymond made it look that way Monday night at Breen Field in Bristol.
Raymond dominated the Massachusetts lineup with 14 strikeouts in six scoreless innings to keep Maine alive and eliminate Massachusetts with a 1-0 win in the Little League Softball Eastern Regional Tournament.
“It’s amazing because I’ve put in a lot of work.” Raymond said. “And it’s finally paying off and showing in these games.”
The winning run was a product of the new video replay rule that Little League Softball has access to with ESPN broadcasting the games.
“A couple of years ago I didn’t think they had it, and now that they have it things can be more fair in the game, and I think it’s just an extra thing that’s nice,” Maine’s Carlie Welch said.
Welch was up to bat with the bases loaded and hit a ground ball that she was originally called out on, but the video replay overturned the call and Welch had the only RBI of the game, driving in Chloe Bourque in the third inning.
“I usually do that,” Welch said. “It’s a habit and it feels good. When he called me out, I didn’t really know I was out. I thought I was safe. But my coach challenged it and I was pretty excited. I was like, ‘wow this is amazing, I got an RBI in the Eastern Region.’”
Raymond’s opposing pitcher Abigail Bettencourt was fresh off a perfect game on Sunday night against Maryland and her strong pitching continued into Monday, as she allowed just one run and pitched well in tough situations. She stranded five runners on base, including pitching out of a bases loaded jam in the third.
“We heard about the perfect game and I think [the girls] were watching while we were at dinner,” Maine coach Kerry Brent said. “So yeah, we heard she had a great game.”
Bettencourt tried to help herself out at the plate with a single to left field in the top of the fifth inning to load the bases with one out, but Raymond struck out Payton Petrillo and Logan Lomasney to erase the threat.
Jessica Steed went 1-for-2 for Massachusetts. Avery Grieco walked and stole a base. Hailey Roach was strong at the bottom of the batting order with two walks and two stolen bases.
Bourque finished the game 1-for-2 for Maine and Emerson Joyce had Maine’s third hit. Raymond, McKayla Kortes and Kathryn Sama each drew one walk.
Maine will play the loser of Delaware and Rhode Island tonight at 7 p.m. With Rhode Island and Delaware playing hours before at 1 p.m., Maine could have an advantage playing a team in a back-to-back situation.
Whatever team Maine faces, it is going up against a confident group from York.
“We’re really confident. We have a good pitcher, a good catcher and very good infield and outfield,” Welch said. “I feel like we can go all the way if we keep doing our jobs right.”