Softball defeats Thomas 8-3 in home opener

Paige Ahlholm had two hits in Bates' seven-run third inning, en route to an 8-3 win over Thomas College on April 5, 2018. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- The Bates softball team defeated Thomas College 8-3 in its home opener Thursday at Lafayette Street Field, on the strength of a seven-run third inning.

The Bobcats (10-6) collected 10 hits in the game and their three pitchers combined to limit the Terriers (8-10) to four hits.

Bates sophomore starter Kirsten Pelletier (Sidney, Maine) threw three strong innings, giving up one run on one hit and two walks and striking out six batters. First-year Payton Buxton (Middlebury, Vt.)  took over in the fourth inning and went 2 2/3 innings and allowing a run to pick up the victory, rising to 3-3 on the season. Buxton also drove in three runs on the day. First-year Jevan Sandhu (Plymouth, N.H.) pitched the final 1 1/3 innings, allowing one run.

All seven of Bates' runs in the third were unearned, thanks to four Thomas errors. Senior Paige Ahlholm (North Andover, Mass.) led off with a single off of Thomas starter Sydney LeBourveau (3-4), and the next three batters reached on Terrier errors, giving Bates a 2-1 lead.

Buxton then laced a one-out single to right center to score junior Andrea Russo (Cheshire, Conn.) and first-year Caroline Bass (Newton, Mass.). Two batters later, first-year Mary Collette (Watertown, Conn.) doubled to the fence in left-center to score Buxton with Bates' lone extra-base hit on the day. Bates added two more runs on sophomore India Woolmington's (New York, N.Y.) RBI groundout, followed by Ahlholm's second hit of the inning, an RBI single to left that scored Collette for a 7-1 Bates lead.

Thomas had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the third as Katie Taylor drew a leadoff walk, stole second and scored on Anna Piirainen's single to left.

The Terriers closed the gap to 7-3 in the top of the sixth as Breanna Whitmarsh was walked by Buxton, then Lauren Farina greeted Sandhu with a double to right center. Kayla Bess followed with another double to right center to score Farina and Whitmarsh, but Sandhu got out of the inning with a ground ball to second.

Bates got one run back from its former lead in the bottom of the sixth when Russo scored from third on a Buxton grounder to shortstop.

Bates will host NESCAC East Division rival Tufts for a three-game series this weekend, with a doubleheader Saturday at 1pm followed by a third game Sunday at noon. Thomas will play a North Atlantic Conference doubleheader Saturday at New England College.