CUMBERLAND—Greely’s softball team entered Wednesday afternoon’s regular season finale against defending Class B champion Fryeburg on a 13-game win streak, averaging nearly 12 runs a game.
Then, the Rangers ran into Raiders pitcher Sarah Harriman and came back to Earth.
Greely appeared en route to another productive afternoon with a pair of hits and a run in the bottom of the first inning, but a baserunning miscue short-circuited a potential big frame and the Rangers did little with Harriman the rest of the way.
Fryeburg, meanwhile, turned to its secret weapon, No. 9 hitter, rightfielder Maddie Smith, who tripled in a pair and scored a third run in the second inning, and the Raiders went on to a 3-1 victory, ending the regular season at 15-1.
Fryeburg earned the top seed in Western Class B in the process and ended the Rangers’ regular season at 14-2, dropping them to second.
“We’ve been hitting really well, but we kind of ran into some pitching today,” said Greely first-year coach Sarah Jamo. “Good thing it happened before playoffs. Now what we know what we can work on going forward.”
Fryeburg won Class B with an undefeated record last year and once again expected to be at the top of the heap in 2012. The Raiders made a statement in their opener with a 20-1 win over Wells, but after blanking Poland, 10-0, Fryeburg hosted Greely and was humbled, 8-1. The Raiders then bounced back and won 12 straight, by a composite 122-3 score.
Greely, which had its 2011 season ended with a 4-3 quarterfinal round heartbreaking loss at Fryeburg, has been spectacular under Jamo, who, as Sarah Bennis, pitched the Rangers to their lone state title a decade ago.
Greely opened 2012 with an 11-5 win at Lake Region, then was upset at home by Sacopee Valley, 12-7. The one-sided win at Fryeburg started a 13-game run which featured a powerhouse offense. In that span, the Rangers averaged over 12 runs a contest and were only seriously tested in an 8-5 home win over Cape Elizabeth April 30.
Wednesday, Greely’s offense went cold and the Raiders were able to earn a pivotal victory.
Rangers junior pitcher Dani Cimino allowed a two-out bloop single to center by senior third baseman Maggie McConkey in the top of the first.
In the bottom half, Greely senior centerfielder Katie Whittum and freshman designated player Miranda Moore both struck out, but Cimino reached on an error and sophmore second baseman Elyse Dinan beat out an infield single. A bloop single to right off the bat of senior catcher Edith Aromando plated Cimino and appeared to get the Rangers’ offense going, but after senior third baseman Lindsey Arsenault was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Fryeburg catcher Carla Tripp caught Dinan off third to keep the game 1-0.
That would prove to be the Rangers’ opportunity to seize control.
“(Harriman) kind of calmed down and settled in and it was kind of a pitcher’s duel after that,” Jamo said. “We had bases loaded, but (Dinan) getting thrown out set the tone a little bit. Unfortunately, we couldn’t bounce back after that. We had a couple runners get to second, but not much beyond that.”
The visitors threatened in the top of the second as first baseman Kylie Locke reached on an error and second baseman Bri Pelkie beat out a bunt hit before stealing second. Cimino appeared on the verge of escaping by catching leftfielder Ellen Bacchiacchi looking at strike three and fanning shortstop Sydney Charles swinging, but Smith ripped an 0-2 pitch over freshman rightfielder Haley Felkel’s head to score Locke and Pelkie. When the throw the third hit Smith and bounced away, Smith came home to put the Raiders on top, 3-1.
“My teammates are my support,” Smith said. “I hear them from the dugout. That rallies me up and gives me energy to hit well. I kind of like it. No one expects hits like that from a No. 9 hitter. The past few games I haven’t hit well. Today, it was a big game. I thought I had to hit this for me and the team. Thank goodness it happened.”
“I was glad to see us respond,” said Fryeburg coach Fred Apt. “Last we played (Greely), we got down and couldn’t respond. We’re a different team right now. That showed the way we responded. We’re good playing out front. We haven’t been behind very often. It was good to see that. I feel like (Maddie’s) our second leadoff hitter. We’re dangerous with Bri Pelkie and her at the bottom of the order. They’re as good as any team’s bottom of the order.”
Harriman then hit her stride.
In the bottom half, Rangers senior shortstop Caroline Hamilton reached on a two-out error, but was stranded when Whittum grounded out to short.
Cimino shook off a two-out error in the top of the third, but in the bottom half, Harriman struck out two hitters and got a third to fly harmlessly to center.
Charles had a two-out single to center in the top of the fourth, but Smith flew out to right. In the bottom half, Harriman got Aromando and Arsneault to ground out and struck out sophomore first baseman Mykaela Twitchell.
Tripp and McConkey walked and Harriman singled to load the bases with one out in the top of the fifth, but Cimino kept the score 3-1 by catching Locke looking at strike three and on that last pitch, Aromando caught the runner at third napping and threw her out to end the frame.
Greely hoped to ride that momentum and senior leftfielder Jenna Brink led off the bottom half with a liner to center, but Fryeburg centerfielder Maddie Pearson made the catch. Hamilton struck out and Whittum grounded harmlessly to second.
Pelkie led off the top of the sixth with a double to right-center, but Cimino caught Bacchiacchi looking and after Charles’ grounder to third moved Pelkie to third base, Cimino retired Smith by forcing her to ground to second.
A one-out single by Cimino in the bottom of the sixth gave the Rangers life, but Dinan grounded out back to Harriman and Harriman struck out Aromando to end the inning.
Cimino had her best frame in the top of the seventh, retiring the Raiders in order.
Harriman got the first two Greely hitters in the bottom half, but Brink kept hope alive by walking with two down, bringing Hamilton to the plate as the tying run.
There would be no dramatics on this day, however, as Harriman got Hamilton to ground to Pelkie and that did it.
Fryeburg 3 Greely 1.
“It means a great deal to us,” Apt said. “It’s an emotional edge. You can’t tell (the girls) it means everything, because it really doesn’t. Hopefully, we see (Greely) again. We have great respect for them. They’re a great team. They’re well coached with a great pitcher.”
The Raiders got two hits, including a double, from Pelkie, who also scored a run and stole a base. Locke and Smith also touched home plate. Smith had two RBI as she continued to terrorize the opposition from the No. 9 spot.
Harriman improved to 15-1 after allowing just one unearned run on three hits and a walk. She fanned 10 and hit a batter.
“It helped that we were all happy to play and were in it,” Harriman said. “Once we started hitting, we were all in it. The last (Greely) game, I think we shut down on each other. We practiced a lot after the first game. It’s a challenge. I was really excited. Today, I think we did really well. We’ve grown as a family, plus as a team. When we practice, we act like we do in a game. My changeup and rise-ball worked well. I threw the curve outside and it worked.”
“Sarah pitched great today,” Smith said. “We were very loud in the dugout. We know how to bring each other up. We always say, ‘Together!'”
“We had a great game plan,” Apt added. “Sarah hit her spots. We kept them off-balance well.”
The potent Greely offense was ineffective for the first time this spring. Cimino had the run, Aromando the RBI.
Cimino suffered her first loss in 14 decisions, allowing three unearned runs on six hits and two walks. She struck out five.
The Rangers didn’t dwell much on the loss.
“It doesn’t really matter in the long run,” said Jamo. “That’s what we talked about. The pressure was off. We were playing a great team. Go out and have fun. It didn’t make or break our season.”
There’s a very good chance that the next time Fryeburg and Greely square off, it will be in the Western B Final June 13 at St. Joseph’s College in Standish.
Both teams will need to win a pair of playoff games first and both appear up to the task.
Fryeburg will turn to its pedigree to bring home another championship.
“We have pride in our past success and want to bring it to the future,” Smith said. “We’ll bring it, just like we did today. We’re working hard and it’ll show. It showed today.”
“We’re really close,” said Harriman. “We’re like a family. We have to practice hard. We shouldn’t ever put our gloves or bats away.”
“We talk Raider Pride,” Apt added. “(Former ace) Hannah Hill was at our practice last night. That brings out the best in them. Raider Pride’s a big thing. We try to keep it going. There’s a tradition that the kids want to build on.”
Greely will have to get to St. Joe’s as the No. 2 seed.
“I’m really happy with the season we put together, “Jamo said. “We hit very well throughout the season and Dani pitched really well throughout the season too. Everything came together and we put a lot of wins together. We’ll get back on the right track. We hope we have four more wins in us.”
Greely pitcher Dani Cimino delivers a pitch Wednesday. Cimino didn’t allow an earned run, but suffered her first loss of the spring.
Fryeburg pitcher Sarah Harriman kept the potent Greely offense off balance all game, striking out 10.
Greely junior Lindsey Arsenault takes a mighty cut.
Greely second baseman Elyse Dinan looks to make the turn for a double play.
Greely’s Elyse Dinan takes a swing.
Greely sophomore Mykaela Twitchell takes a pickoff throw, but Fryeburg’s Maddie Pearson gets back to the bag safely during Wednesday’s regular season-ending showdown. The Raiders handed the Rangers a 3-1 setback.
More photos below.