On the heels of its finest regular season since 2005, the Greely softball team now turns its attention to winning the Class B state championship for the first time since 2002.
The Rangers, who went 14-2 and earned the No. 3 seed for the Western B tournament, will host No. 6 Lincoln (13-3) Thursday at 4 p.m. in the quarterfinal round.
Greely wound up the only Forecaster Country team to make the playoffs.
Falmouth, despite a 12-0 (five inning) win at Wells in its finale, wound up 6-10.
Freeport, which closed with a 10-5 victory at Traip, finished 6-10.
Yarmouth (8-8) was also left on the outside looking in.
Greely entered the 2010 season perceived as one of the contenders, but wasn’t included with the likes of the favorites, two-time defending Class B state champion Fryeburg and Gray-New Gloucester.
The Rangers scored a whopping total of 91 runs in winning their first six outings. After falling, 8-6, at Fryeburg, Greely won four more in succession (averaging 9.5 runs per victory), then lost, 9-6, at Wells, before closing with four straight victories, including a dramatic 4-3 (eight inning) home win over Cape Elizabeth last Wednesday to wind up 14-2.
“We’ve noticed as the season was winding down that our players became more focused and driven as our opponents were fighting for a playoff berth,” said Rangers coach Mike Robb. “These girls are a very supportive group. They pick each other up and share the work. We’ve had many different players contribute on offense, defense and from the (pitching) circle.
“Senior captain Mary Zambello had a fine regular season (2.71 ERA) and we’ll need her to continue and be even stronger for the playoffs,” Robb added. “Our team batting average is .395. That number by itself is phenomenal, but it’s the runs scored that win games. We averaged over 10 runs per game. Our girls love to run the bases and that puts pressure on the opponent. It’s been different hitters every game and sometimes all the hitters delivering the hits and RBI. We like to try to keep the line moving. Our defense has been stellar at times.”
Greely has contributions from the whole lineup.
In addition to Zambello’s excellence on the hill, junior Michaela Finnegan has a 2.10 ERA with two complete game wins.
On offense, sophomore Katie Whittum (.393 average, 23 stolen bases) sets the table. Senior captain Marika Stayte (.500 batting average, 27 RBI and 22 runs scored) is having a sensational campaign and sophomore Caroline Hamilton (.500 average) is another tough out. Freshman Danielle Cimino hit .436 with five doubles and 15 RBI in the regular season. Finnegan hit .350 and drove in 19 runs. Then there’s junior Michelle Kahn (.389 average, 15 steals) and sophomore Emma Seymour (hitting .407), who each have enjoyed timely contributions.
Defensively, senior captain Karlee Biskup (third base), a .325 hitter, and Hamilton (shortstop) are as solid a left side of an infield as you’ll find. Senior Bryce McEwen (second base), a .370 hitter, and sophomore Lindsey Arsenault (first base), hitting .289, are superb as well. Sophomore catcher Edith Aromando (.362 average) keeps opposing baserunners at bay.
The Rangers did not face Lincoln in the regular season. The only previous playoff meeting between the schools came in the 2006 quarterfinal round (a 6-5, eight inning, come-from-behind win by Greely).
“Our girls are very excited for the playoffs and are happy to be hosting the quarterfinal game,” Robb said. “Not knowing a great deal about Lincoln, we will expect a playoff-caliber game and be prepared to bring our best.”
If the Rangers pass their quarterfinal test, they’ll either go to No. 2 Maranacook (14-2) or host No. 7 York (11-5) in Saturday’s semifinals.
Greely beat the visiting Wildcats, 10-1, on May 13 and didn’t host the Black Bears in the regular season.
Last spring, Maranacook eliminated the Rangers in the quarterfinals (4-3, in 10 innings). The teams also met in the 1999 semifinals (8-3 Black Bears), 2000 regional final (Maranacook, 12-0, in five innings), 2001 quarterfinals (2-1 Rangers), the 2002 regional final (1-0 Greely) and the 2004 semifinals (4-1 Black Bears). The Rangers have never played York in the postseason.
The Western B Final is Wednesday, June 16, at 3:30 p.m. That game will be played at St. Joseph’s College in Standish. The Class B state game is Saturday, June 19 at 4 p.m. in Brewer.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org