Greely softball falls in state final; Baseball loses in regional final

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Greely senior ace Kelsey Currier throws a strike during her one-hitter in the Rangers’ 1-0 victory over Morse in last week’s Class B South Final. Greely then lost by a 1-0 score to Brewer in Saturday’s state game.

Greely’s A.J. Eisenhart tags out a Wells runner on a pickoff play during the Rangers’ 8-3 regional final loss to the Warriors last week.

(Ed. Note: For the complete Greely-Morse softball game story, with additional photos and a box score, see theforecaster.net) 

Greely’s baseball and softball teams both advanced further than expected this spring, but each squad didn’t get quite as far as they hoped.

The Rangers softball team made an improbable run to the Class B state final before losing, 1-0, to Brewer.

The baseball squad, meanwhile, got to the Class B South Final before losing, 8-3, to Wells.

One run shy

Greely’s softball team started 5-2, then went on a five-game skid, but the Rangers righted the ship just in time and won their final four contests to finish the regular season 9-7, good for the No. 6 spot in Class B South.

After ousting No. 11 Spruce Mountain in the preliminary round, 10-4, Greely went to longtime playoff foe Fryeburg Academy, the No. 3 seed, and spring a 7-2 quarterfinal round upset. In the semifinals, the Rangers did it again, knocking off second-seeded Gray-New Gloucester, 1-0, behind Kelsey Currier’s brilliant outing.

Greely advanced to meet No. 4 Morse in the regional final at St. Joseph’s College and found a way to prevail by a 1-0 score again.

In the top of the third, Greely rode a pair of bloop hits to the game’s lone run, as freshman centerfielder Mollie Obar went all the way to third on a bloop triple and freshman designated player Delia Knox followed with a bloop single to left for the lead.

“I thought they’d catch it, but I kept running and was hoping they wouldn’t catch me (at third),” Obar said.

“I was really nervous, but I knew I had to do something because I really wanted to win,” said Knox. “I said to myself that I’d hit it and I swung at the first one and hit it (to the outfield). When I saw other girls were hitting well off the first pitch, I did it too. Her first pitches were good.”

Currier allowed a walk in the first inning and a single in the fifth and nothing more and she slammed the door on three pitches in the bottom of the seventh inning to close out a 1-0 victory in a mere 84 minutes.

Currier struck out nine, had one of the Rangers’ six hits and came up huge from start to finish.

“I can’t put it into words, how hard we’ve worked for this,” Currier said. “There was a slight chance in the back of our minds, but I don’t think any of us thought we could get to the state final.” 

“I’ve had 35 state championships in my career and this ranks right up there,” said Greely coach Rob Hale, who also coaches the school’s swim program. “It’s a special group. They work hard and they’re cool under pressure. Kelsey’s calm and the rest of them stay calm. She likes getting out of jams. She has ice water in her veins. We talked about the next pitch, the next play, the next out. Short-term memory and they listened. I told the kids at the beginning of the year I thought we’d be here, then we were 5-7, but we turned it around.” 

The Rangers went on to take part in their third state final Saturday in Brewer, against undefeated Brewer.

Greely sought its first state title since 2002, but fell just short, 1-0.

The Witches pushed across a run in the fourth inning and made it stand up, but Greely didn’t go quietly.

Knox produced the Rangers’ first hit in the sixth with a bloop single to left and stole second. Sawyer Dusch then dropped a single into left-center. Hale, sensing his limited chances, sent Knox home, but she was thrown out.

“We had not been hitting, so I took a chance on that,” Hale said. “It was a great relay.”

Dusch went to second on the play but was stranded after two flyouts to center.

With two outs in the seventh, Obar singled. Rawnsley then crushed a ball to left-center. But a slight wind was blowing in, holding it up.

“I thought it was out,” Rawnsley said. “I was looking at it, thinking ‘oh my gosh.’ “

It fell in and Rawnsley settled for a double with Hale holding Obar at third.

“We’re usually more aggressive but that’s the best defensive team we’ve played against,” Hale said.

A ground out then ended the game as Brewer won, 1-0, ending Greely’s season at 13-8.

“They’re a good team and hats off to them, but I couldn’t ask for a better team to play on,” Currier said. “We turned our confidence level up and worked harder.”

“I told them they need to look at the big picture,” Hale said. “This one game is not a reflection of where they’ve come from. Where we were in May, when we were 5-7 and playing awful softball and we played the last three games with no errors and we’re in a state championship game. You don’t get that too often.”

One tough inning

Greely’s baseball team, meanwhile, was 3-3 at one point this season, but as has been the case so often over the years, closed strong, wound up 10-6 and earned the No. 3 seed in Class B South.

After edging No. 11 Gray-New Gloucester, 2-1, in the quarterfinals and avenging last year’s playoff loss, 8-2, at No. 2 Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals, the Rangers went to St. Joe’s last Wednesday to face top-ranked Wells in the regional final.

Greely and Wells split a pair of regular season meetings, but the Warriors opened up an insurmountable lead in the Class B South Final, scoring six times in the first inning. The Rangers got three runs back before Wells scored twice in the bottom of the sixth to put it away and prevail, 8-3. Brady Nolin had two RBI, but Greely finished 12-7.

“To find ourselves down 6-0 in the first was very challenging, but I’m very proud of how we competed,” said Greely coach Derek Soule. “Bottom line, they bunched their hits into a big inning. We were never able to bunch ours together.

“I have learned over the years to really appreciate and value a season that is filled with a lot of struggles, setbacks and successes. I loved coaching this past season. I had a great group of kids who despite a lot of challenges, we were able to put a team and season together that we could all be proud of. The kids kept working, kept grinding and kept believing. It obviously paid off. I’m very proud of what this group of young men accomplished.”

The Rangers lose starters A.J. Eisenhart, Eben Kiesow and Luke Miller, as well as Nate Cyr, Jack Libby, J.P. Sherr and Matt Strout, but will be on the short list of favorites again in 2019.

“We should be strong next year, returning three starting pitchers, Will Neleski, Jacob Whiting and Connor Sullivan, as well as catcher Aiden Smith and All-Conference shortstop Nick Butler, Soule said. “Designated hitter Jake MacDonald and right fielder Brady Nolin were inserted into the starting lineup late in the season and provided a big spark and will also return next year. Others returners like Will Lyden, Evan Wyman, Joe Cimino and Harry McFarland, started at different times this year and gained valuable varsity experience which will only bold well for 2019.”

Press Herald staff writer Kevin Thomas contributed to this story.

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

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