Greely softball continues fast start with decisive win over defending champs

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Greely junior centerfielder Kayley Cimino pounds a second inning double during the Rangers’ 7-1 win over Yarmouth in Tuesday’s playoff rematch. Cimino later crushed a three-run home run as Greely improved to 3-0.

Chris Lambert photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

CUMBERLAND—Don’t call it revenge, call it a warning.

Greely’s softball team was the number one seed in last year’s playoffs, but was shut down by eventual champion Yarmouth and its ace, now-senior Mari Cooper, in the semifinals and has been stewing over that setback for nearly 11 months.

Tuesday afternoon at Twin Brook Recreation Center, the Rangers got a chance to deliver a dose of revenge and in doing so, they remained undefeated and hinted at even bigger things to come.

Greely sophomore pitcher Kelsey Currier escaped jams in the first and second innings and in the bottom of the third, the Rangers took the lead when senior third baseman Sarah Felkel singled off Cooper, driving home senior second baseman Lexi Faietta.

Yarmouth pulled even in the fourth, as a pair of walks set the stage for clutch hitting sophomore catcher Cate Ralph, who singled home junior shortstop Andrea St. Pierre, but on the play, the Clippers ran into an out and they never managed to take the lead.

Greely went back on top to stay in the fourth, as with two outs, Currier helped herself with a two-run single to center.

In the fifth, singles by junior centerfielder Kayley Cimino, senior leftfielder Charlotte Benoit and senior pinch-hitter Kate Currier produced another run.

Cimino then ended all doubt in the sixth with a mammoth three-run home run and Kelsey Currier slammed the door as the Rangers went on to a 7-1 victory.

Currier allowed just four hits in earning the win and Cimino had three hits, scored twice and drove in three runs as Greely improved to 3-0 and dropped Yarmouth to 2-2 in the process.

“We’ve beaten Fryeburg and Yarmouth and they were the favorites going in,” said Rangers coach Rob Hale. “The league is so tough. Fourteen of our games are against playoff teams. I like what I’ve seen so far. The girls compete. They have fun.” 

Two of the best

So far this year, both teams have been involved in dramatic games.

Greely scored late to beat both visiting Fryeburg Academy (2-1) and Wells (7-4). 

Yarmouth started by handling visiting Freeport (15-2, in five-innings), then, after a letting a seventh inning lead slip away in a tough home loss to Fryeburg Academy (4-3), the Clippers won at Traip Academy, 6-3.

Heading into Tuesday’s contest, the Rangers had beaten the Clippers in 20 of 25 regular season meetings dating back to the start of the 2002 season (see sidebar, below), but the teams have split four playoff meetings in that span.

Last year, Greely won the regular season encounter, 12-2, at Yarmouth, but the Clippers took their game to another level when they prevailed, 7-0, at Greely in the Western B semifinals before beating Fryeburg Academy in the regional final and Hermon in the state game.

This time around, despite a cloudy early May day, a hint of June was in the air and the Rangers went out and reversed last year’s playoff result.

Junior second baseman Sydney St. Pierre got the Clippers started when she reached on an infield single off Faietta’s glove. Cooper sacrificed her to second, but Andrea St. Pierre lined out to junior shortstop Moira Train and senior first baseman Eleanor O’Gorman lined out to Cimino in center to end the threat.

Cooper had an eventful, yet quick bottom of the first.

First-pitch swinging, Felkel singled to left, but on the next pitch, Kelsey Currier grounded sharply to Sydney St. Pierre, who threw to her twin sister for one out and Andrea St. Pierre threw on to O’Gorman for a double play. Senior first baseman Miranda Eisenhart then swung at the first pitch and grounded out to short, as that three pitches meant three outs, ending the inning.

Ralph flew out to right to start the second, but senior centerfielder Colleen Sullivan ripped a double to right-center. After sophomore rightfielder Sophia McGrath struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch, Sullivan stole third, but she was stranded there as Currier struck out freshman third baseman Cayte Tillotson.

Cooper worked out of an even bigger jam in the bottom half.

Senior rightfielder Evan Carrell walked on four pitches leading off and Cimino followed with a double over McGrath’s head to put runners at second and third. Cooper then bore down and got Benoit to look at strike three, Train to line out to McGrath in shallow right and junior catcher Jennie Smith to pop out foul to Ralph.

Currier had her best inning in the top of the third, as she got senior designated player Sarah Gleason to line to Faietta, fanned Sydney St. Pierre and got Cooper to fly to center.

Greely broke through in the bottom of the third.

Leading off, Faietta laid down a bunt to the right of the plate, which Ralph pounced on, but her throw to first was high, allowing the speedy Faietta to reach on an error. Faietta then stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. When Felkel blooped a single to shallow center (Andrea St. Pierre and Sullivan collided on the play with Sullivan being momentarily shaken up), Faietta came home for a 1-0 lead. Cooper avoided further damage by getting Currier to fly to right and after hitting Eisenhart, getting Carrell to ground out second to first (Sydney St. Pierre appeared to tag Eisenhart first which should have been a double play) and Cimino to ground back to the mound.

The Clippers got their offense going in the fourth. 

Andrea St. Pierre drew a walk leading off and on a 3-2 pitch, O’Gorman also took ball four. Ralph then singled to center to bring home St. Pierre, but when O’Gorman tried to take third, she was thrown out and while Ralph went to second on the throw, the air came out of Yarmouth’s sails. Sullivan struck out swinging and McGrath looked at strike three and instead of the visitors taking the lead, the game was deadlocked, 1-1.

The Rangers quickly went back on top in the bottom half.

After Eisenhart flew out to right, Train’s sharp grounder to third got through Tillotson for an error and after Smith struck out, Train went to second on a wild pitch, Faietta walked and Felkel did the same to load the bases. That brought up Currier, who jumped on the opportunity to help herself by ripping a sharp single up the middle, scoring Train and Faietta for a 3-1 lead.

“The first time around (the batting order), we just have to get the timing, then we just get going,” Currier said.

“We kept putting the ball in play and we were waiting for that one big hit and we finally got it,” said Hale.

Sullivan then made a terrific play to prevent further damage, catching Eisenhart’s deep blast with a nice running catch.

Tillotson and Gleason struck out leading off the fifth, but Sydney St. Pierre lined a double to the fence in center. Cooper couldn’t duplicate Currier’s heroics and wasn’t able to help her cause, however, as she popped out to the mound to end the inning.

In the bottom of the fifth, after Carrell lined out to second, Cimino singled to left and Benoit reached as her ground ball was deflected but not stopped by Sydney St. Pierre. After McGrath made a nice running catch on Train’s liner for the second out, Kate Currier pinch-hit for Smith and came through with a single to left, scoring Cimino. Currier stole second, but Faietta grounded back to the mound to keep the score 4-1.

Kelsey Currier had a strong top of the sixth, getting Andrea St. Pierre to ground out to Train on a close play, O’Gorman to ground out to second and Ralph to ground to Train, who made a terrific play moving to her left, then reaching back with her bare right hand to stab the ball before throwing out the runner to end it.

The set the stage for one more big blow which ended the competitive phase of the contest.

After Felkel led off the bottom of the sixth by grounding out to Andrea St. Pierre, who made a nice throw from deep in the hole, Kelsey Currier singled to left and Eisenhart beat out an infield hit. Carrell grounded out to O’Gorman, but Cimino made sure Greely wouldn’t be frustrated, as she crushed a Cooper offering deep over the leftfield fence for her fourth career home run and a 7-1 advantage.

“That ball was right down the middle,” Cimino said. “I just kept my hands back. I knew right away. That was fun. We’ve done a lot of batting practice lately, staying back, and that definitely helped.”

“That ball was absolutely crushed,” Hale said. “Mykaela Twitchell hit some big home runs, but that was one of the longest I’ve seen here.”

Benoit grounded back to the mound, but the damage was done.

After Sullivan popped out to the mound to lead off the seventh, McGrath walked on a 3-2 pitch, but sophomore pinch-hitter Hannah Merrill struck out swinging and Currier put a bow on her strong performance by fanning senior pinch-hitter Jen Dubois to make the 7-1 win official.

“We were a little bitter about last year, so we definitely wanted to win,” said Cimino.

“We just wanted to come out with a win,” Kelsey Currier said. “We work well together. We have good communication. We bond well together. We stay up.” 

“We’re in a different spot mentally this year,” Hale added. “Different chemistry.”

The Rangers’ offense was paced by three hits from Cimino and two apiece from Kelsey Currier and Felkel. Cimino and Faietta both scored twice, while Kelsey Currier, Eisenhart and Train touched home once apiece. Cimino had three RBI, while Kelsey Currier had two and Katie Currier and Felkel finished with one apiece. Kelsey Currier, Felkel and junior Isabella Perry had stolen bases. Greely left eight runners on base.

Kelsey Currier improved to 3-0 by allowing one run on four hits in seven innings. She walked three, but struck out nine.

“They’re a good team, but my pitches were working and I was hitting my spots,” Currier said. “I felt comfortable. It felt good having the team behind me.”

“(Kelsey) has a short memory,” Hale said. “She’s so strong mentally. She battles out of jams on a regular basis. She makes the rest of us look good. We hadn’t played cleanly for her until today. We’ll build on that.”

Yarmouth got two hits from Sydney St. Pierre (who also stole a base), a run from Andrea St. Pierre, an RBI from Ralph and a steal from Sullivan, but the Clippers stranded five runners and weren’t able to put enough balls in play.

Cooper fell to 2-2 after allowing seven runs (four earned) on 10 hits in six innings. She walked three, hit a batter, threw two wild pitches and struck out two.

“I’m really tired of talking about last year,” said Yarmouth coach Amy Ashley. “It’s a new team. I think we’re relying on last year’s success. We have a lot of players missing from last year and we have to learn who this year’s team is. There were moments today we looked great and there were moments that we didn’t and that’s been happening all season. We hope to be a little more consistent from now on. They were up, 3-1, and none of those runs were earned. We’ve allowed one error to lead to big innings. First two innings, we had runners at third and struck out. We have to have a different mental approach. We talk a lot about making loud outs. Strikeouts kill us. We’ve got to string something together.”

Rematch?

Greely and Yarmouth aren’t scheduled to play again, but it’s quite likely the rivals will meet in the playoffs for a fourth straight season.

Both teams have plenty of work to do in the meantime.

The Clippers hope to bounce back Wednesday at Lake Region. Yarmouth hosts Poland Friday and Wells Monday.

The Clippers have learned the hard lesson that what happened in 2015 means nothing in 2016 and that they have some work to do.

“Yes, it’s early, but it’s a short season,” Ashley said. “We’ve got to dig down and figure out who we want to be as a team. I’m looking forward to some practice days. We’ve either had games or we’ve practiced inside, but everyone’s in the same boat. We need a little more leadership, especially at the plate. I’m anxious to see who we are after this.”

The Rangers have a big test Wednesday, when they have to travel south to match up with York ace Stephanie Rundlett. Greely plays at Falmouth Friday, goes to Fryeburg Academy Saturday, then returns home Monday to battle Kennebunk.

The Rangers look to continue to find ways to win.

“This makes us confident going into the rest of the season,” Kelsey Currier said.

“We still have to work on simple plays and defense, but the coaches have been great this year,” Cimino said. “Practices are super-focused. We’re all looking for that golden glove this year.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Greely sophomore Kelsey Currier winds up to deliver a strike. Currier improved to 3-0 after allowing just four hits and striking out nine.

Yarmouth senior Mari Cooper, last year’s postseason hero, delivers a pitch.

Yarmouth sophomore rightfielder Sophie McGrath catches a fly ball.

Greely senior second baseman Lexi Faietta robs Yarmouth senior designated player Sarah Gleason of a base hit.

Greely senior third baseman Sarah Felkel lines a hit.

Greely sophomore Kelsey Currier lines a go-ahead two-run single in the bottom of the fourth.

Greely junior Moira Train, left, senior Lexi Faietta and senior Evan Carrell celebrate a run during the victory.

Recent Greely-Yarmouth results

2015
Greely 12 @ Yarmouth 2 
Western B semifinals
Yarmouth 7 @ Greely 0

2014
@ Greely 5 Yarmouth 4 
Western B quarterfinals
@ Yarmouth 15 Greely 11 

2013
@ Greely 7 Yarmouth 1
Greely 11 @ Yarmouth 8
Western B quarterfinals
@ Greely 9 Yarmouth 3 

2012
@ Greely 12 Yarmouth 0 (5)
Greely 8 @ Yarmouth 0

2011
@ Yarmouth 11 Greely 5
Yarmouth 8 @ Greely 7 (8)

2010
@ Greely 10 Yarmouth 4
Greely 8 @ Yarmouth 1

2009
Greely 9 @ Yarmouth 1
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 0

2008
@ Greely 15 Yarmouth 7
@ Yarmouth 4 Greely 0

2007
Greely 5 @ Yarmouth 2
@ Greely 5 Yarmouth 4

2006
Yarmouth 3 @ Greely 2
@ Yarmouth 6 Greely 1
Western B semifinal
Greely 3 @ Yarmouth 2

2005
@ Greely 2 Yarmouth 1
Greely 6 @ Yarmouth 1

2004
Greely 3 @ Yarmouth 1
@ Greely 3 Yarmouth 0

2003
@ Greely 5 Yarmouth 2
Greely 7 @ Yarmouth 1

2002
@ Greely 12 Yarmouth 0 (5)

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.