Greely sophomore Kelsey Currier raises her arm in joy as she nears home plate after hitting a second inning grand slam home run to help propel the Rangers to an 8-1 win at defending champion Yarmouth in Saturday’s rainy Class B South semifinal. Greely will battle top-ranked York in the regional final Wednesday.
Chris Lambert photos.
More photos below.
YARMOUTH—The stage, the rain and the formidable opponent were no match for Greely’s softball team and its sophomore ace pitcher Kelsey Currier Saturday afternoon.
After losing to defending state champion Yarmouth in each of the past two postsesasons, the third-ranked Rangers were looking for some revenge in a Class B South semifinal and thanks to Currier’s brilliance on the mound and punch at the plate, along with the best complete game the team has played all year, Greely is moving on, while the Clippers’ reign has ended.
Currier got out of a first inning jam on the mound, then, in the top of the second inning, with a light rain beginning to fall, provided the biggest hit of the game, the season and her life to date.
After senior first baseman Miranda Eisenhart’s long single scored junior centerfielder Kayley Cimino to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead, the visitors loaded the bases, bringing up Currier, and Currier crushed a grand slam off Yarmouth senior ace Mari Cooper over the leftfield fence to put Greely firmly in control, up, 5-0.
A Cimino RBI double, scoring senior third baseman Sarah Felkel, made it 6-0 in the top of the third, but the Clippers got on the board in the bottom half, when senior centerfielder Colleen Sullivan tripled and scored on a ground out from sophomore catcher Cate Ralph.
That’s all the damage Currier would allow and the Rangers put the game out of reach in the top of the fifth when senior rightfielder Evan Carrell pounded a two-run home run of her own.
Currier retired Yarmouth in the bottom half to make the game official and slammed the door in the sixth and seventh innings to bring the curtain down on a most impressive 8-1 victory.
Currier scattered seven hits, didn’t walk a batter, struck out seven and drove in four runs in leading Greely to its 15 victory in 18 games. The Rangers ended the Clippers’ season at 14-4 and advanced to meet top-ranked York (17-1) in the Class B South Final Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. at St. Joseph’s College in Standish.
“It feels really good to beat them because they knocked us out last year, but we’re not done,” said Currier.
Prior to 2013, Greely and Yarmouth had only met once in the softball playoffs, but Saturday’s battle marked the fourth consecutive spring the teams met in a win-or-go-home affair.
You could see this matchup coming all season, as both the defending champion Clippers and perennially strong Rangers were among the best teams in Class B.
Greely won its first four games, dropped three of five, then won its final seven. Thursday, the Rangers eliminated No. 6 Fryeburg Academy, 4-1, in the quarterfinal round.
Yarmouth learned that defending a title isn’t easy, as it dropped games to Fryeburg Academy, Greely and York, but the Clippers closed on a seven-game win streak of their own and in the quarterfinals Thursday, overcame a slow start to beat No. 7 Leavitt, 8-2.
Entering play Saturday, each team had won two of the prior four playoff matchups (see sidebar, below).
This time around, in a highly-anticipated battle, the Rangers wouldn’t be denied.
The game-time temperature was 59 degrees, the skies were cloudy at first pitch and it wasn’t long until light rain began to fall, although it was never strong enough to delay the game.
Currier set the tone immediately by lining a single past Yarmouth sophomore third baseman Hannah Merrill into leftfield, but she was picked off by Ralph and Cooper got both junior shortstop Moira Train and Felkel to look at strike three to end the frame.
In the bottom half, the Clippers had a golden opportunity to get the jump, but squandered it.
Cooper led off with a double down the leftfield line and Sullivan followed by dumping a single to left, then taking second when the throw went to third, where Cooper was held.
The meat of Yarmouth’s order came up, but Currier ensured the runners stayed put, as she struck out Ralph swinging, caught junior shortstop Andrea St. Pierre looking at strike three and got senior first baseman Eleanor O’Gorman to line out to Train to escape.
“It was huge getting out of that jam,” Currier said. “I was a little nervous with them on base, but I just had to bear down. I don’t get fazed. My pitches were on. That gave us a boost.”
“That was huge,” said Greely coach Rob Hale. “(Kelsey) does not mind jams. She has coldwater in her veins. We didn’t start her last year, but she’s been carrying us this year.”
Yarmouth coach Amy Ashley knew her team had missed a great chance to take the lead.
“We got over-excited,” Ashley said. “All we needed to do was put the ball in play. Those strikeouts hurt. If we scored one there, momentum might have gone in our favor.”
The Rangers then seized control in the top of the second, as Currier’s bat proved even more impressive than her arm.
Cooper caught senior leftfielder Charlotte Benoit looking at strike three to start the frame, but Cimino, after fouling off several pitches to stay alive, walked. Cimino then took off for second as Eisenhart belted a pitch to right-center. The ball rolled all the way to the wall and Cimino didn’t stop, racing around the bases to score the game’s first run as Eisenhart held at first with a long RBI single.
“Miranda has been peaking and hitting the ball well lately,” Currier said.
Carrell popped out to short for the second out, but Greely’s fun was just beginning.
Junior catcher Jennie Smith drew a walk and senior Lexi Faietta, the speedy No. 9 hitter, beat out a bunt single to load the bases.
That set the stage for Currier, who got a pitch she liked, made solid contact with it and sent the line drive over the head of freshman leftfielder Ceanne Lyon and after a dramatic split-second pause, over the fence as well to turn a close 1-0 game into a more comfortable 5-0 advantage.
“I just tried to keep my hands inside the ball,” said Currier, of her third home run this spring..”It helped that there were three people on base. I knew as soon as I hit it, that it was out. It felt really good.”
“We got our bats going today,” Carrell said. “That felt good. We typically warm up after a few innings. I heard a couple girls in the dugout say, ‘Watch her hit a grand slam.’ It was a good feeling. She’s such a hard worker and such a big part of our team.”
“I knew she has that kind of pop in her bat,” Hale added. “It was a line drive and I have bad depth perception, so I wasn’t sure it was going out.”
Cooper got out of the inning by getting Train to ground out to short, but Yarmouth faced a steep deficit.
In the bottom of the second, Currier caught junior second baseman Sydney St. Pierre looking at strike three and induced a fly out to right off the bat of Merrill. After Lyon beat out an infield single, sophomore rightfielder Sophie McGrath bounced out to Train to end it.
The Rangers added another run in the third.
Felkel led off with a single to center and Benoit followed with a shot right back at Cooper. The ball hit Cooper squarely on the knee, but after falling to the dirt, the pitcher still managed to sprawl and come up with it. She tried to throw out Benoit from the ground, but threw high and the error allowed Benoit to reach safely.
That was a secondary concern as Cooper spent several minutes on the ground in pain before slowly rising, walking around, then, in case there was even an ounce of lingering doubt about her toughness, taking the ball and staying in the game.
“The first thing Mari said to me was, ‘I wish I’d gotten the out,'” Ashley said. “There was no way she was coming out.”
Cimino then cracked a double to left-center to score Felkel for a 6-0 lead and put runner at second and third, but Cooper settled down and after walking Eisenhart to load the bases, she got Carrell to ground to Merrill, who threw home to Ralph for the force out, fanned senior pinch-hitter Katie Currier and got Faietta to pop out to short to prevent further damage.
In the bottom half, Cooper popped out to Train, but Sullivan lined a triple to right-center and came home when Ralph bounced out to short (where Train made a nice backhanded stab and throw to first) to cut the deficit to 6-1. Andrea St. Pierre then grounded out to third.
As the game reached the fourth, the rain picked up slightly and field conditions worsened. Knowing his team had to get through five innings to make the win official, Hale wasn’t brokenhearted when the Rangers went 1-2-3, as Kelsey Currier struck out, Train grounded back to Cooper and Felkel lined out to left.
“In my mind, I thought about making outs, but I didn’t say it to the girls, just to (assistant coach) John (Eisenhart). I wasn’t disappointed when we had a 1-2-3 inning.”
Currier got O’Gorman to ground out to short to start the bottom half. Sydney St. Pierre then reached on a single off the glove of Faietta, but Merrill struck out and after a wild pitch put St. Pierre on second, Lyon looked at strike three.
Instead of trying to get the fifth inning over with quickly, Greely returned to its bludgeoning ways at the plate and added to its lead.
Benoit lined out to left and Cimino lined out to right, but Eisenhart reached on an infield single and Carrell hit her first home run of the year, another blast to left, to stretch the lead to 8-1.
“I had no expectations when I hit it,” Carrell said. “It felt like a normal swing to me. I wasn’t trying to hit a home run, which is typical. I wasn’t sure if I hit it well enough, then I heard my parents screaming. I got around third and coach said, ‘Slow down!’ This was my first countable home run. Good timing for it.”
“A 5-0 lead was comfortable, but it’s not enough in the playoffs,” Hale said. “We had to add to it. I would have liked to have kept adding to it.”
Smith then singled to center and that ended Cooper’s afternoon, as she switched places with Lyon, who got Faietta to line deep to right to end the top of the fifth.
In the bottom half, McGrath led off with a double to left-center, but Cooper’s sharp grounder was handled beautifully by Faietta, who threw to first for the out as McGrath went to third, and after Sullivan flew out to right, McGrath headed home, saw that Carrell’s throw from the outfield was going to beat her to the plate and tried to get back to third, but she was tagged out by Felkel to end the frame and make the game official.
Currier ripped her third hit, a single left leading off the the sixth, but she was caught stealing. Train then grounded back to the pitcher and Felkel bounced out to short.
In the bottom half, Currier got Ralph to ground to short, Andrea St. Pierre to pop foul to the catcher and O’Gorman to ground back to the mound.
Greely went quietly in the seventh, as Benoit grounded to short, Cimino struck out and Eisenhart bounced out to third.
That set the stage for Currier to slam the door in the bottom half.
Sydney St. Pierre led off and popped foul to first. Merrill reached on a squibber on the infield, but Lyon and then McGrath both swung at strike three to end the game and in 1 hour, 58 minutes, the Rangers had dethroned the Clippers, 8-1.
“We hit the ball pretty well,” Hale said. “That’s the best all-around game we’ve played all year, offensively and defensively.”
Currier improved to 15-3 after allowing just one run on seven hits in seven innings. She didn’t walk a batter and struck out seven. She did throw one wild pitch.
Currier led the offense as well with three hits, a run scored and four RBI. Eisenhart also had multiple hits and scored a pair of runs. Carrell, Cimino, Faietta, Felkel and Smith also touched home. Carrell had two RBI and Cimino and Eisenhart finished with one apiece. Freshman Anna Smith had the game’s lone stolen base.
Yarmouth’s offense was led by Sullivan, who singled, tripled and scored a run. Ralph had the RBI.
Cooper fell to 14-4 after surrendering eight runs on nine hits in 4.2 innings. She walked three and struck out five. In 2.1 innings of relief, Lyon only gave up one hit and fanned one.
“(Greely) made all the plays,” said Ashley. “It seemed like we hit the ball hard, but it was right at them. I didn’t think they could play better than last time we played them, but they did today. It’s tough to lose, especially when you don’t play your best. Take away two pitches and it’s a different game.”
Yarmouth won 14 games, earned its highest playoff seed since 2011 and got to the semifinals for the third year in a row, but that didn’t diminish the tears of players and coaches following the loss.
“These seniors were freshmen when we came in, so it’s like losing a piece of you,” Ashley said. “We’ve accomplished a lot together. They’re like family. I love them so much. I’m very proud of them, but sad to see them leave. Eleanor was a quiet leader. Colleen was our loud leader. Mari was the leader by example and is such a competitor. She’s the face of our program. We’re so thankful for everything she did for the program. She made everyone around here better and tougher.
“We didn’t talk a lot about (last season) this year because there are four girls from last year who aren’t here. Once you have it, it’s hard to lose prior to the championship game because the feeling is amazing. We still accomplished a lot this season.”
Don’t sleep on the 2017 Clippers. This program has gotten to the point where it expects to contend every season. This spring’s disappointment will serve as fuel down the road.
“The returning players learned a lot from the seniors about hard work,” Ashley said. “They got a taste of it and hopefully next year, we’ll feel like we have unfinished business, which will only help us in the future.”
Greely will look to punch its ticket to the regional final for the first time since 2013 Wednesday when it battles top-ranked York and arguably the state’s best pitcher, Fordham University-bound Stephanie Rundlett. The Rangers lost, 5-4, at York May 4. They struck out 15 times, but scored twice in the seventh inning to make things very interesting.
The teams have no playoff history.
Rest assured, Greely will be ready and confident.
“We’re peaking,” Currier said. “We just have to stay positive and pick each other up. We have to focus in practice and have confidence at the plate.”
“We did alright (against Rundlett) last time,” Carrell said. “This win gives us momentum. We’ll approach it like any other game. We’ll come in with nervous excitement and carry it through.”
“We want to go through number one to be number one,” Hale added. “We’ll be the underdog in seeding, but we’ll go in very confident. There wasn’t much of a celebration after this one. We still have bigger goals.”
Greely sophomore pitcher Kelsey Currier delivers a strike. Currier did much more than hit a grand slam, she earned her 15th victory by scattering seven hits and walking none.
Yarmouth senior starter Mari Cooper delivers to the plate. Cooper was injured by a line drive off her kneecap in the third inning, but stayed in the game.
Greely sophomore Kelsey Currier launches her game-altering second inning grand slam home run.
Yarmouth freshman Ceanne Lyon makes a catch of a line drive in leftfield.
Yarmouth sophomore catcher Cate Ralph prepares to tag out Greely senior Charlotte Benoit in the third inning.
Yarmouth senior Colleen Sullivan lines a third inning triple. Sullivan later scored the Clippers’ lone run.
Greely senior third baseman Sarah Felkel tags out Yarmouth sophomore Sophie McGrath to end the fifth inning.
Greely senior Evan Carrell is mobbed by her teammates after hitting a fifth inning home run.
2015 Western B semifinal
Yarmouth 7 @ Greely 0
2014 Western B quarterfinal
@ Yarmouth 15 Greely 11
2013 Western B quarterfinal
@ Greely 9 Yarmouth 3
2006 Western B quarterfinal
Greely 3 @ Yarmouth 2