Conant softball beats Gilford, advances to face Bishop Brady

  • Conant softball coach Tom Lambert high-fives Manea Aho during the Orioles’ 7-6 win against Gilford in the first round of the Division III playoffs Thursday. Staff photo by Tony Marquis

  • Conant coach Tom Lambert tells Kenzey Aho to head home Thursday. Aho scored on the play. Staff photo by Tony Marquis

  • Skyler Tenney fouls off a pitch Thursday in Conant's 7-6 win against Gilford in the first round of the Division III playoffs. Staff photo by Tony Marquis

  • Conant’s Beth Hector is congratulated by Hannah Carey, right, after scoring a run in the Orioles’ 7-6 win against Gilford in the first round of the Division III playoffs Thursday. Staff photo by Tony Marquis

  • Conant coach Tom Lambert and players watch as Camri Aho pitches Thursday. Staff photo by Tony Marquis

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Friday, June 02, 2017 3:13PM

With a 7-4 lead after the top of the sixth inning in Conant softball team’s game against Gilford, coach Tom Lambert congratulated his team on advancing in the Division III playoffs.

His players were confused.

“I thought it was the top of the fifth and then two innings had gone by and I’m like ‘That’s mint,’” Lambert said. “You know it’s a long game, but what the heck?”

The Orioles laughed at their coach, then came out for the final inning, holding off a rally by the Golden Eagles in a 7-6 win Thursday to move on to face Bishop Brady in the second round Saturday at 2 p.m.

Early in the game, Conant seemed well on its way to the next round after taking a 5-1 lead, but Gilford came back, thanks to three hits and a fielding error by the Orioles in the fifth inning.

After the Orioles gave up an RBI double to Stevie Orton for the third run in the inning, second baseman Grace Chadbourne called for time to have a meeting with the infield and pitcher Camri Aho, to get everyone to “chillax,” Camri said.

“I just wanted to get everyone together and just take a deep breath,” said Chadbourne. “They got a couple of base hits, but we can always come back from that."

The meeting on the mound worked. Camri struck out the next batter to end the inning.

In the next half-inning, Conant scored two runs, with RBI singles by Brenna Welch and Manea Aho. The effort may have led Lambert to call the game early, but it wasn’t over.

Camri gave up two singles to start the seventh inning, then Orton hit a towering double to left-center field to score two. 

Following a walk, Camri became more intense, winding up for a throw and hammering the ball into her glove repeatedly.

A second infield meeting wasn’t needed.

“Obviously when someone hits a bomb and gets down by one, that’s a little nerve-wracking,” Chadbourne said. “But I had faith in our pitcher, Camri. She’s all composure, so I knew she could do it.”

Camri glared at the plate and struck out Samantha Knowles — Camri’s eighth — to end the game. 

“It happens,” said Camri of the runs scored by the Golden Eagles. “I hit my spots — they’re a good hitting team.”

Gilford (9-8) averaged 8.5 runs per game in the regular season, just a couple decimal points lower than the Orioles. 

Conant, with eight hits and players reaching on four walks and two hits-by-pitch, had no problem getting people on base Thursday. Every player on the roster touched first base in the game. Manea Aho, Beth Hector and Daria Aho all went 2-for-4 with a double and Kenzey Aho went 1-1 with three walks. 

But the Orioles also left 13 runners on base in the win.

“When we’re not getting them in, it stinks,” Lambert said. “But I’m never satisfied.”

The Orioles’ next game was scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. but was changed to 2 p.m. This will be the first meeting between the two teams this season. Conant (13-4) and Bishop Brady (13-4) are the only two teams to beat Mascenic.