LANGDON – Two of the area’s best softball pitchers squared off on Thursday evening in a D-III showdown that saw the Fall Mountain Wildcats defend their home field, beating the Newport Tigers 1-0.
Wildcats senior Chloe Vogel and Tigers junior Lacey McNeel had similar productive outings on the mound, which explains there being just one run on the scoreboard when this one was all said and done.
For FM, Vogel picked up the win, going all seven innings, striking out 9 and allowing 4 hits and 3 walks.
McNeel pitched all six innings for Newport, striking out 9 and allowing 5 hits and 0 walks.
The one run for the Wildcats came in the first inning, as senior Nicole Limoges drove in Sarah Schadler, the first of three hits on the day for Limoges, after Schadler reached base on a throwing error after laying down a bunt.
From then on, McNeel shut down the Wildcats’ attack. Meanwhile, FM’s defense was doing their best to make sure Newport didn’t sneak back into the game.
“Our defense has been pretty solid all year, which has kept us in games,” said FM head coach Kevin Hicks. “Buckling down when they’re in scoring position and not letting them cross the plate is huge.”
The Tigers had runners in scoring position in each of the final three innings, but the Wildcats’ gloves kept coming up big with two outs.
In the fifth, with runners on second and third, Newport’s Shelby Adams hit a hard ground ball to shortstop, but Limoges was there to corral it and get the out at first. In the sixth, Schadler came up with a big putout from her second base spot as she grounded another well-hit ground ball and flipped it to first to get out of the inning.
And, in the seventh, Savana Wilson had the game-sealing grab in centerfield with McNeel looking to tie the game from second base.
The win for FM snaps a five-game losing streak.
Thursday’s game was a lot closer than the last time these two teams met up. One month ago, Fall Mountain won 18-4 in Newport as the Tigers were still adjusting to a new roster in their first game of the spring.
Since that opening-day loss to the Wildcats, the Tigers went on an 8-3 stretch before Thursday’s game after head coach Sam McNeel started to find a feel for where to position his new group.
“I expected this to be a better game,” said coach Hicks. “[Coach McNeel] has done a really good job of moving his kids around and putting them in a position to make plays. And I think he’s got it figured out.”
For the Tigers on Thursday, McNeel, Jenna Maheu, Megan Howard and Kelsey Wheeler all collected hits.
For FM, after Limoges’ three hits (2 doubles), Wilson and Tess Marsden each recorded a single.
Both teams’ seasons are now winding down, with Fall Mountain having four games left and Newport just three, all over the course of next week. And, both are slated to make the D-III playoff tournament at the moment.
Newport, No. 9 in the standings with a record of 8-5, will travel to Hillsboro-Deering on Monday, to Monadnock on Tuesday, and to Sunapee on Thursday.
Fall Mountain, No. 14 in the standings with a record of 7-8, will host Conant on Monday, travel to Mascoma on Tuesday, and will host Mascenic on Wednesday and Stevens on Friday.