YARMOUTH—Last June, Greely’s softball team suffered a disastrous playoff loss at Yarmouth in which then-junior pitcher Miranda Moore couldn’t find the strike zone.
Wednesday afternoon, the Rangers had an opportunity to avenge that loss and Moore and her teammates made the most of it.
Greely struck for five runs in the top of the first inning and Moore set the host Clippers down in order in the bottom half. After Yarmouth got a run back in the second inning, a double play prevented more damage and junior catcher Audrey Mann got the run back in the top of the third, with a majestic home run.
The Clippers pulled within 6-2 on an unearned run in the bottom half and just missed drawing closer and from there, Moore didn’t surrender another run.
The Rangers then put it away with a run in the fifth and five more in the sixth and went on to a 12-2 victory.
Greely got a complete game, no walk effort from Moore, made it two wins in a row, improved to 4-2 and handed Yarmouth its first loss in six contests.
“I think the team and I had to redeem ourselves from last year and I think we did that,” said Moore. “We came out believing in ourselves. It was a team effort.”
Last season’s playoff contest featured 26 combined runs, 21 combined hits and 24 combined walks and as a result, took 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete. It was worth the wait for Yarmouth, which won a postseason game for the first time since 2006, while the loss marked the end of Jess Brady’s reign as Greely’s coach. The Clippers went on to lose a gutwrencher at Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals, but have carried their momentum from last June into this season, winning their first five outings.
Yarmouth began with an 11-4 victory at the Capers, to gain a measure of revenge from last season, then beat Cape Elizabeth in its home opener, 11-6, rolled over visiting Freeport (22-0, in five innings), scored late to edge host Fryeburg Academy, 9-7, then Monday prevailed at Gray-New Gloucester, 5-1.
The Rangers, now coached by longtime assistant Rob Hale, opened with a 16-1 (five inning) home victory over Traip Academy, then held on for a 10-7 win at Kennebunk. Greely then lost at Lake Region (6-5, in a 12-inning affair) and at home to Poland (8-3), before getting back in the win column Monday, 6-2, at Wells.
Heading into Wednesday’s contest, the Rangers had beaten the Clippers in 19 of 24 regular season meetings dating back to the start of the 2002 season (see sidebar, below) and two of three playoff encounters in that span, but Yarmouth had snapped a six-game skid at the hands of Greely last year in the playoffs.
This time around, on a glorious day for softball, the Clippers sought their first regular season win over the Rangers since May 26, 2011 (8-7, in eight innings), but instead Greely produced its best effort of the season.
Rangers senior centerfielder Haley Felkel led off by drawing a walk off Yarmouth junior starter Cat Thompson and junior third baseman Sarah Felkel did the same to set the tone. Junior second baseman Lexi Faietta laid down a sacrifice bunt, but Clippers junior first baseman Eleanor O’Gorman lost the throw from junior third baseman Mari Cooper in the sun and the error allowed Haley Felkel to score the game’s first run and put runners on the corners. Junior rightfielder Evan Carrell walked to load the bases and Moore hit a sharp ground ball to the left of Yarmouth sophomore shortstop Andrea St. Pierre, which took a bad hop and went into centerfield for a single which scored Sarah Felkel and Faietta for a 3-0 lead. After Mann grounded into a pitcher-to-third force out, freshman leftfielder Kelsey Currier walked to reload the bases and end Thompson’s time on the mound.
“She’s been pitching really well, so she shouldn’t lose confidence,” Yarmouth coach Amy Ashley said. “It was just a bad inning.”
Ashley replaced Thompson with Cooper (with Thompson going to third) and the first hitter Cooper saw was junior first baseman Miranda Eisenhart, who hit a ground ball in the infield. The throw home was too late, however, and Moore scored on the fielder’s choice to make it 4-0. Sophomore shortstop Moira Train lined to center, bringing home senior pinch-runner Isabel Porter. Haley Felkel was hit by a pitch to reload the bases, but Cooper finally escaped when she got Sarah Felkel, the 11th batter of the inning, to ground back to the mound, ending the five-run uprising, which only featured one hit.
Moore didn’t even record an out in last year’s playoff loss, but this time around, she set Yarmouth down quickly in the bottom of the first, striking out St. Pierre, getting senior leftfielder Michelle Robichaud to line to third and Cooper to ground out to Train.
Cooper was solid in the second, fanning Faietta looking, walking Carrell and after striking out Moore, Faietta was caught stealing.
The Clippers broke through in the bottom half.
First, Train made a terrific play on a Thompson grounder, then threw her out. Senior catcher Kallie Hutchinson blooped a ball to left, which dropped in for a double. O’Gorman then ripped a shot down the rightfield line for an RBI triple. Yarmouth wasn’t able to draw any closer, however, as sophomore second baseman Sydney St. Pierre bunted out third to first and O’Gorman broke late to the plate and was gunned down by Eisenhart’s throw, keeping the score 5-1.
Mann led off the third and got a hold of a Cooper pitch and launched it deep over Robichaud’s head and the fence for a 6-1 advantage.
“I’ve been practicing keeping my hands inside and I just went for it,” Mann said. “I thought it went under the fence for a ground rule double at first when their girl put her hands up, then I got to come home. That was awesome.”
“That was her first-ever home run and it was no doubt,” said Hale. “We just want her to put it in play.”
Cooper bounced back to get Currier to pop out to second, Eisenhart to fly out to center and Train to strike out.
The Clippers got a run back in the bottom of the third and almost got more.
Freshman rightfielder Cate Ralph led off with a triple to left, but looked as if she’d be stranded when junior centerfielder Colleen Sullivan looked at strike three and Andrea St. Pierre lined out to Train, who made a tremendous diving catch falling to her right. Robichaud then grounded at Faietta, but Faietta couldn’t come up with the ball and Ralph came home to cut the deficit to 6-2. Cooper followed with a double to left to put runners at second and third and Thompson launched a deep drive to center, but Haley Felkel caught it at the edge of the fence and Yarmouth’s best chance to rally disappeared.
In the top of the fourth, Haley Felkel struck out, Sarah Felkel lined out to right with Ralph making a nice play and after Faietta blooped a single to left, she was out Robichaud to Sydney St. Pierre on a nice throw trying to advance.
Moore made quick work of the Clippers in the bottom half, as she got Hutchinson to fly out to center, O’Gorman to pop to second and Sydney St. Pierre to ground out to second.
Greely added a run in the fifth.
Carrell drew a walk leading off and moved to second when Moore reached on an error. After Mann hit into a shortstop-to-third force play, a wild pitch moved the runners up and Currier’s fly ball to center allowed freshman pinch-runner Rebecca Israel to barely beat Sullivan’s throw home for a 7-2 lead. Eisenhart’s ground ball to first ended the frame.
In the bottom half, Moore again set Yarmouth down in order, as Ralph grounded out to third, Sullivan grounded back to the mound and Andrea St. Pierre popped out to second.
The Rangers ended all doubt in the sixth, thanks to a two-out rally.
Train led off by grounding back to the mound and Haley Felkel lined out to left. Sarah Felkel got the uprising started with a single to center. Junior Charlotte Benoit hit for Faietta and singled to right. After Faietta re-entered and stole second, Carrell lined a single to right-center scoring both runners. Moore walked and Mann singled to right for another run, putting runners at the corners. Currier then delivered the coup de grace with a two-run single for a 12-2 lead. Eisenhart ended the inning with a fly ball to left.
In the bottom half, Currier made a nice play on Robichaud’s line drive, Cooper popped out to second and Thompson singled to left before Hutchinson flew out to center to end the frame.
Train led off the seventh against Andrea St. Pierre with a single to center, but Haley Felkel was ruled out when she stepped out of the batter’s box in an attempt to bunt. Sarah Felkel then lined to right and Faietta popped out to first.
Moore made quick work of the Clippers in the bottom half, getting O’Gorman swinging, junior pinch-hitter Jen Dubois to look at strike three and junior pinch-hitter Tori Messina to ground back to the mound to end it.
“We were still embarrassed from the way we finished here last year,” said Hale. “We came in to play softball.”
Moore stole the show, allowing just five hits and two runs (only one earned) in her seven innings of work. She struck out four and more importantly, didn’t walk anyone as she improved to 3-0.
“(Going up 5-0) took the pressure off immediately,” Moore said. “Keeping the ball off the plate and making them reach was helpful. The drop and the change, everything worked. Audrey always does a nice job behind the plate. I know I can count on my defense 100 percent. They’re amazing.”
“I’ve caught Miranda since the fifth grade and this was one of the best games I’ve seen her pitch,” said Mann. “She was amazing. It’s such a change from last year’s game.”
“Miranda hasn’t pitched like that all year,” Hale added. “She was on. She got back on the horse. She didn’t walk anyone. The girls are so excited for her. She’s well-liked. I think our defense is our strength, but we hadn’t shown that until today.”
Mann was the lone multiple hitter and had the most memorable hit of the day. Faietta, Sarah Felkel, Israel and Porter all scored twice, while Carrell, Haley Felkel, Mann and Moore each touched home once. Currier had three RBI, while Carrell, Mann and Moore all had two and Train one. Faietta stole two bases, while Carrell and Porter each had one.
Greely left six runners on, but it didn’t matter.
Yarmouth didn’t have a multiple hitter. Hutchinson and Ralph scored the Clippers’ run and O’Gorman had the lone RBI. Cooper and Hutchinson had doubles and O’Gorman and Ralph tripled. Yarmouth left three runners on base.
Thompson took the loss, allowing five runs (four earned) on one hit and four walks in one-third of an inning. Cooper surrendered seven runs (six earned) on eight hits and three walks in 5.2 innings. Cooper fanned four, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch. Andrea St. Pierre allowed just one hit in her inning of relief.
“We definitely laid an egg,” Ashley said. “It’s hard to come back from five runs down. Greely played exceptionally well and made some great plays. Good for them, not so good for us, but we’ll work harder than we ever have tomorrow at practice and see if we can bounce back and see what kind of team we’ll be from here on out. I was prepared for us to have a breakdown at some point. I just didn’t think it would be for a full seven innings. When you pop the ball up over half your at-bats, nothing good will come of it. We just didn’t have baserunners. We didn’t make good contact.”
The teams don’t play again in the regular season, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see them square off for a third straight postseason.
Both have plenty to worry about in the meantime.
Yarmouth hopes to bounce back Friday when Sacopee Valley pays a visit. After going to Lake Region Monday and Poland Wednesday of next week, the Clippers face another tough home test May 15 when Wells comes to town.
“We’re a young team and we weren’t resilient today and that’s my biggest worry,” Ashley said. “Last year’s team had quite a few wins coming from behind. I’m not sure if we expected that to happen today. We have some good games coming up. I’m excited to see where we go from here.”
Greely is back in action Thursday, when Fryeburg Academy pays a visit in a makeup game. Friday, the Rangers host Falmouth. They go to Cape Elizabeth Wednesday of next week.
“This gives us a boost to continue on,” Moore said. “Everybody’s confidence is way up and that’s huge.”
“Consistency is important, being confident and if we make an error, putting it behind us and making the next play,” Mann said.
“In theory, this gets us back on track,” Hale added. “We play again tomorrow. Will we still be celebrating or are we moving on? There’s so much parity this year.”
Greely sophomore pitcher Miranda Moore had her best outing of the season.
Yarmouth junior Mari Cooper came on in relief in the first inning.
Greely second baseman Lexi Faietta makes a throw from her knees.
Greely junior Evan Carrell takes a swing.
Greely junior Lexi Faietta slides into second.
Greely junior catcher Audrey Mann is congratulated by senior Haley Felkel after crushing a third inning home run.
Greely sophomore pitcher Miranda Moore (left) congratulates sophomore shortstop Moira Train after one of Train’s terrific defensive plays.
Yarmouth junior Eleanor O’Gorman takes a swing.
Greely junior third baseman Sarah Felkel gets set defensively.
Yarmouth junior Cat Thompson records an out on Greely junior Evan Carrell at third base during the fifth inning.
Greely coach Rob Hale gives instructions.
@ Greely 5 Yarmouth 4
Western B quarterfinals
@ Yarmouth 15 Greely 11
@ Greely 7 Yarmouth 1
Greely 11 @ Yarmouth 8
Western B quarterfinals
@ Greely 9 Yarmouth 3
@ Greely 12 Yarmouth 0 (5)
Greely 8 @ Yarmouth 0
@ Yarmouth 11 Greely 5
Yarmouth 8 @ Greely 7 (8)
@ Greely 10 Yarmouth 4
Greely 8 @ Yarmouth 1
Greely 9 @ Yarmouth 1
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 0
@ Greely 15 Yarmouth 7
@ Yarmouth 4 Greely 0
Greely 5 @ Yarmouth 2
@ Greely 5 Yarmouth 4
Yarmouth 3 @ Greely 2
@ Yarmouth 6 Greely 1
Western B semifinal
Greely 3 @ Yarmouth 2
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 1
Greely 6 @ Yarmouth 1
Greely 3 @ Yarmouth 1
@ Greely 3 Yarmouth 0
@ Greely 5 Yarmouth 2
Greely 7 @ Yarmouth 1
@ Greely 12 Yarmouth 0 (5)
Greely junior catcher Audrey Mann is congratulated by junior Miranda Eisenhart (9) and junior Sarah Felkel after tagging out a runner during the Rangers’ 12-2 win at Yarmouth Wednesday afternoon.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.