FALMOUTH—After combining for 37 runs in their two regular season encounters, the Greely and Falmouth softball teams, naturally, produced a mere three in Tuesday afternoon’s Western Class B preliminary round playoff game.
In a contest that was nerve-wracking from the get-go, the host Yachtsmen scored a run in the bottom of the first inning, thanks to some aggressive baserunning, but Rangers sophomore pitcher Danielle Cimino held them in check from there.
In the top of the fourth, Greely got the game’s biggest hit when junior catcher Edith Aromando pounded a blast to deep centerfield and raced all the way around the bases for a two-run homer and a one-run lead.
Falmouth threatened in the late innings and had the potential tying run at third base in the seventh, but Cimino slammed the door and the Rangers escaped with a 2-1 victory, improving to 10-7 in the process and advancing to Thursday’s quarterfinal round at unbeaten, three-time defending regional champion Fryeburg.
The Yachtsmen’s season ended at 8-9.
“It feels awesome,” said Greely first-year coach Kelsey Bryant. “I knew we could do it. We had to play our game and we brought it. All seven innings. It could have gone either way.”
Falmouth and Greely split in the regular season. The Yachtsmen won in Cumberland, 11-5, May 7. The Rangers then outslugged host Falmouth, 11-10 (in eight innings), May 24.
The teams had no playoff history entering Tuesday’s game, but quickly made some.
Freedman set Greely down in order in the top of the first and the hosts took a 1-0 lead in their half of the inning.
Senior rightfielder Sarah Collmus led off and appeared to strike out, but strike three was wild and got away from Aromando and Collmus reached first base. Senior shortstop Jessie L’Heureux bunted Collmus to second and Freedman beat out an infield hit to third. On the throw to first, Collmus rounded third and raced home for a 1-0 lead.
Freedman walked Aromando to start the second inning and a passed ball with one out put the runner at second, but Freedman got freshman second baseman Elyse Dinan to ground out to the mound and fanned junior designated hitter Jenna Brink looking to keep it 1-0.
Falmouth appeared to have a rally going in its half of the second as sophomore third baseman Maddie Inlow walked to lead off, but she was thrown out stealing by Aromando. Junior first baseman Ashley Collins walked as well, but after a sacrifice, Cimino got senior second baseman Stephanie Gramse to ground out to second.
Greely went quietly in its half of the third. In the bottom half of the frame, Collmus reached on an error with one down and got as far as third, but Freedman flew out to junior centerfielder Katie Whittum.
The Rangers then struck in the top of the fourth.
Leading off, junior third baseman Caroline Hamilton led off by blistering a line drive off Gramse’s glove for a single. After Cimino sacrificed Hamilton to second, Aromando took center stage and changed the whole complexion of the game.
Aromando rocketed a shot over senior centerfielder Lauren O’Donnell’s head as the ball rolled to the fence. Hamilton scored easily from first and Aromando appeared bound for a triple, but Bryant waved her home and Aromando slid in just before the tag of Falmouth junior catcher Alli Carver for a 2-1 Greely lead.
“I was definitely waiting for the first good (pitch) and that was pretty much down the middle and I went with it,” said Aromando. “I knew it was a strong hit and it felt great off the bat. I thought it would be close the way everyone was reacting. We needed the run. My coach said ‘Go!,’ so I was going. I knew the tag was going to be close, so I did what I could to get around it and she just missed me by a little bit.”
“I knew by our second or third time up in the order we’d make adjustments and we did,” Bryant said. “Edith’s first home run couldn’t have come at a better time. She needed some oxygen at second base.”
The Yachtsmen looked to answer in their half of the fourth as Inlow walked with one down and sophomore leftfielder Sarah Sparks drew a base on balls with two outs. Gramse blooped a shot into center, which appeared destined to fall for a run, or perhaps two, but Whittum managed to run it down to keep the score 2-1.
Senior leftfielder Michele Kahn drew a one-out walk in the top of the fifth, but Freedman got out of the jam. In the bottom half, Cimino’s best inning, Falmouth went 1-2-3 as O’Donnell struck out on a 3-2 pitch, Collmus hit back to the mound and L’Heureux bounced out to third.
In the top of the sixth, Aromando ripped a single to center with two down, but junior first baseman Lindsey Arsenault bounced out to L’Heureux to end it.
In the bottom of the inning, Arsenault would play a pivotal role in keeping the Rangers on top.
With out in Falmouth’s half of the sixth, Carver singled to left. Inlow followed with her third walk of the day, but Collins grounded out to second and Sparks hit a ground ball to junior Emma Seymour at shortstop. Seymour’s throw was in time, but was high. Arsenault saved the day, however, by barely stretching to register the out, keeping Greely in the lead.
“I trust my defense, so it really wasn’t stressful,” Cimino said. “Our first baseman is good. She stretches and catches everything we throw to her.”
The Rangers went meekly in their half of the seventh, setting the stage for the final half-inning.
Gramse led off the bottom of the seventh by drawing a walk. She moved to second on a passed ball and appeared primed to tie the score, but O’Donnell couldn’t get a bunt down and struck out. Collmus moved Gramse to third, but bounced out to Cimino in the process, leaving the game up to L’Heureux.
L’Heureux battled Cimino through several pitches before sending a routine fly ball to center. Whittum calmly hauled it in and Greely had a 2-1 victory.
“I was happy with the way we played,” Cimino said. “We knew it would be a close game. We knew we had to stress fundamentals, step and throw, get the out, get the hit. We wanted to string hits together and get runs. It felt good to pitch with the lead. I felt more confident. The fielders felt more confident. We all kept our heads up. We knew we could do it and we did it. Honestly, I took deep breaths. It wasn’t nerve-wracking.”
Cimino improved to 10-7 by allowing just two hits and the first inning run while walking six and fanning two. She had one wild pitch.
“Danielle had a strong game,” Aromando said. “She was pitching fast and they couldn’t catch up with it. We had strong defense. When they put it in play, we made outs.”
“I definitely knew it would be a pitcher’s game today and it was,” Bryant said. “Danielle was on her game today. She was fantastic hitting her spots, mixing up speeds.”
There wasn’t much offense, but Aromando produced most of it. She had two of Greely’s three hits, including the home run, scored once and drove in a pair. Hamilton also scored and had the other Rangers’ hit.
For Falmouth, Freedman, who’s been stellar this year, even if her record hasn’t shown it, took the loss to drop to 5-7 after giving up just two runs on three hits. Freedman walked two and struck out five in her swan song.
The Yachtsmen got singles from Carver and Freedman and that was it for offense. Collmus scored the hosts’ lone run.
“You can’t ask for anything better than this,” said Yachstmen coach John Keyes. “It comes down to the last inning with a runner in scoring position with two outs. Who knows what can happen? I thought we did very well. Defensively, it was our best game. We just didn’t supply the offense today. It happens. We gave ourselves a lot of opportunities, we just didn’t put it together. They put theirs together. It was a well-played game by both teams. Danielle pitched a great game. That’s the best game I’ve seen her pitch. Kelsey had a great performance.
“We did a lot of good things this year. This is the best group that I’ve had. They didn’t let me down today. The seniors played their hearts out. It’s a terrible way to end.”
Falmouth will graduate Collmus, Freedman, Gramse, L’Heureux and O’Donnell, but should compete again in 2012.
“We lose a lot, but we have enough coming back, I think,” said Keyes. “I hope we can build on this.”
Greely advanced to Thursday’s quarterfinals and a date with top-ranked (16-0) Fryeburg, the three-time defending regional champion. The Rangers lost at home to Fryeburg, 11-0, on May 9. Greely last met the Raiders in the playoffs in the 2007 semifinals (a 6-1 Rangers win).
“This win was absolutely huge,” said Cimino. “It changes our mindset. We’ll bring our game like we did here. We’ll do fine. I think we can do it again.”
“It’s a new season when the playoffs start,” Bryant added. “The girls know that. We have to keep playing our game. Fryeburg’s a good team. It should be a good show.”
Falmouth senior second baseman Stephanie Gramse stands on first base in the bottom of the seventh innings Tuesday. Gramse was stranded at third as the Yachtsmen fell just short.
Falmouth senior rightfielder Sarah Collmus lays down a bunt in the seventh inning.
Greely sophomore pitcher Danielle Cimino works out of a seventh inning jam to preserve the 2-1 victory.
Greely junior centerfielder Katie Whittum celebrates after catching the final out of Tuesday’s Western B preliminary round playoff game. The Rangers edged host Falmouth, 2-1.
More photos below.
G- 000 200 0- 2 3 1
F- 100 000 0- 1 2 0
Freedman reached on infield single, Collmus scored on throw.
Aromando homered to center, Hamilton and Aromando scored.
Repeat hitter- G, Aromando
Runs- G, Aromando, Hamilton; F, Collmus
Home run- G, Aromando
RBI- G, Aromando 2
Cimino and Aromando; Freedman and Carver
Cimino (W, 10-7) 7IP 2 H 1 R 1 ER 6 BB 2 K 1 WP
Freedman (L, 5-7) 7 IP 3 H 2 R 2 ER 2 BB 5 K