North area softball teams ready for playoff action
The Falmouth and Greely softball teams took part in the Western Class B preliminary round Tuesday afternoon (visit www.theforecaster.net for the latest scores and updates).
The Rangers won five of their last six games this spring to wind up 9-7, good for the No. 8 seed. That allowed Greely to host No. 9 Mountain Valley (8-6).
"I think our girls are peaking at the right time," said Greely coach Mike Robb. "Winning five of our last six games put us in a good place. Our pitchers, junior Mary Zambello, and sophomore Michaela Finnegan, have combined to give us a chance to win nearly every game. Our offense has been getting solid contact and our players love to run the bases. When our defense comes to play, we can compete with any team in the conference."
The Rangers don't play the Falcons in the regular season. The teams last met in the 1996 preliminary round, a 16-5 Greely victory.
"The playoffs start with us facing Mountain Valley and we're happy to
be on our home field," Robb said. "We're not familiar with Mountain Valley and
they're not familiar with us, so we just want to play our game and
respect our opponent. Any game, any day, anyone could be the winner. We
want to earn it and deserve it."
If the Rangers are able to advance, they would go to top-ranked Maranacook (15-1) for Thursday's quarterfinal round. Greely didn't play the Black Bears this year. The teams last met in the playoffs back in 2004 (a 4-1 Maranacook victory in the semifinals). The Black Bears also eliminated the Rangers in 1999, 2000 and 2001. Greely beat Maranacook in the 2002 regional final en route to its only state title.
The Yachtsmen started 2-5 this season, but won six of eight and wound up 8-8 to earn the No. 10 spot. Falmouth visited No. 7 Oak Hill (9-7).
"I thought we had a good second half of the season and won some close games, then lost one we shouldn't have and finished with a couple of good games," said Yachtsmen coach John Keyes. "Even in the loss, we played well."
The Yachtsmen don't play Oak Hill in the regular season, but faced the Raiders in the 2001 quarterfinals and lost 14-2.
"It seems that Oak Hill is similar to us, they have a good pitcher," Keyes said. "I think it should be a good game. We have to hit in order for us to win. The kids don't want this to be their last game. We would like to play Cape again."
If Falmouth was able to advance, it would set up a date at No. 2 Cape Elizabeth (15-1) in Thursday's quarterfinals. The Yachtsmen were blanked twice by the Capers this spring, 7-0 in Cape Elizabeth April 16 and 14-0 (in six innings) at home June 1. The rivals have no postseason history.
Looking ahead, the semifinals are Saturday on the field of the higher remaining seed. The Western B Final is Tuesday of next week at St. Joseph's College. First pitch is 7:30 p.m. The Class B state game is also at St. Joe's, on Saturday, June 20. The starting time is 11 a.m.
Freeport (6-10) and Yarmouth (5-11) failed to qualify for the postseason. North Yarmouth Academy didn't field a varsity team this season.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.