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PORTLAND—The 2015 season has been one of frustration and inconsistency for the McAuley softball team.
Monday afternoon’s home tilt versus Gorham was an example why.
The Lions missed some early scoring chances, surrendered two unearned runs and even ran into a couple of untimely outs.
It all added up to a 2-0 loss to the Rams as for the fourth straight time, McAuley wasn’t able to follow up a victory with a second consecutive win.
The Lions managed six hits against Gorham senior pitcher Julia Gaudette, but stranded six runners and freshman pitcher Anya Chase took the loss despite not surrendering an earned run as McAuley fell to 4-5, while the Rams improved to 5-3.
“It was a frustrating day, absolutely,” said Lions first-year coach Dawn Armandi. “They didn’t earn that win. We gave it to them. That’s what’s gone on in our losses. We have one bad inning, make errors and teams capitalize.”
Both teams have been up and down in 2015.
Gorham opened with an 8-2 home win over Bonny Eagle, then fell at powerhouse Scarborough (9-2) and at home to defending regional champion Thornton Academy (5-2). After downing visiting Noble (5-2), the Rams lost at home to Sanford (4-3), then defeated host Massabesic (3-1) and visiting Deering (9-3).
McAuley opened with a hard-fought 5-4 loss at Marshwood, then got in the win column by downing visiting Cheverus, 10-2. After losing at Windham (5-1), the Lions handled visiting Westbrook (15-4). The up-and-down continued last week with a loss at Biddeford (11-3), a 3-2 home win over Portland, a 9-4 setback at South Portland and a 9-0 win at Cheverus.
Gorham and McAuley started playing in 2006 and in nine previous meetings, the Rams had won five (see sidebar, below), but the Lions prevailed last year, 4-2, in Gorham.
Monday, McAuley had its chances, but failed to capitalize.
Chase opened the game by striking out Rams junior shortstop Lindsey Wilcox. Sophomore second baseman Moira Corbett followed with a single to right-center, but Chase struck out freshman catcher Shayla Harris. Lions catcher Lillie Donovan didn’t cleanly catch the third strike and while she threw Harris out at first, Corbett moved up to second base. Sophomore third baseman Noelle DiBiase then singled sharply to left, but Corbett had to stop at third. Junior designated player Emma Niles then grounded out to shortstop, where sophomore Ally Tillotson made a nice play to get McAuley out of the inning.
In the bottom half, centerfielder Kim Fischer led off with a bunt single against Gorham senior pitcher Julia Gaudette. Fischer stole second and took third when Chase grounded out to third. With the Lions’ two best hitters due up, a run appeared likely, but senior first baseman Taylor Whaley popped out to second and Tillotson did the same and the opportunity went by the wayside.
Chase made quick work of the Rams in the second, getting Gaudette to pop out to short, junior Renee Darling to ground to short and senior rightfielder Kayli-Susan Leavitt to bounce back to the mound.
In the bottom of the second, third baseman Chelsea Rairdon bounced out to third, designated player Ashley Littlefield struck out looking and rightfielder Megan Bailey struck out swinging.
Chase remained strong in the third, striking out freshman centerfielder Kali Perry, getting Wilcox to fly to center and Corbett to chase strike three.
The Lions threatened again in the bottom half, but failed to take the lead.
Second baseman Maddy Beaulieu walked leading off and after catcher Lillie Donovan grounded into a force out, Fischer reached on a throwing error, which put runners at second and third with one out and Chase and Whaley due up.
But again, McAuley couldn’t take advantage, as Chase flew to left, shallow enough to keep the runners where they were, and Whaley popped out to first to end the threat.
“We struggled dropping our shoulder, popping the ball up,” Armandi said. “Everybody was so anxious to get hits, they went for home runs instead of a base hit.”
Harris led off the fourth by lining the ball off Chase’s glove for an infield single, but after Harris stole second, DiBiase popped out to second and Niles ripped a shot to center, which Fischer caught on her knees before firing to Beaulieu to complete a double play.
In the bottom half, Gorham showed that it too can play defense, as Wilcox made a nice over-the-shoulder catch on a pop-up off the bat of Tillotson, Perry ran down a deep fly hit by Rairdon and after Littlefield blooped a single over the head of sophomore first baseman Kathryn Bertin, Bailey grounded out sharply to third, with DiBiase making a nice stop before throwing on to first for the out.
The Rams scored the only run that they needed in the top of the fifth.
Leading off, Gaudette singled past third. She was replaced by freshman courtesy runner Emily Murray, who was sacrificed to second. Leavitt then hit the ball back to the mound. Chase tried to gun down Murray at third, but she threw wildly and Murray came home to make it 1-0.
“The throw wasn’t on target, but it could have been stopped,” said Armandi. “The first thing to do is to stop the ball.”
Leavitt took second on the error, but she was stranded when freshman Grace McGouldrick popped foul to Tillotson and Wilcox flew to Fischer in center.
In the bottom half, after Beaulieu grounded out to first (with Corbett covering) and Donovan looked at strike three, Fischer lined a single to center and stole second, but she then attempted to steal third and was gunned down by Harris to end the inning.
Gorham got a break to start the sixth and added to its lead.
Corbett reached on an error and got to second. Harris then laid down a bunt and Corbett beat the throw to third with Harris reaching first. After DiBiase flew out to shallow left with the runners holding, a wild pitch allowed Corbett to score. Harris took third when Niles grounded out, but Gaudette grounded back to Chase to keep the score 2-0.
McAuley’s last great chance came in the bottom half, but for the second straight inning, the Lions ran into an out at the worst possible time.
Chase popped back to the mound leading off, but Whaley lined a single to center. With Tillotson, one of the league’s most powerful hitters at the plate representing the tying run, Whaley got the call to try and steal second, but Harris threw her out for the second out.
“We were trying to make something happen,” Armandi said. “We left too many runners on base. We were just trying to get a runner back into scoring position. They hadn’t made a successful throw to second where the fielder actually caught the ball. Kudos to them for coming through.”
Tillotson kept the inning alive with a single to left and Rairdon bunted for a hit to put runners at the corners. Rairdon stole second, meaning the Lions just needed a hit to tie the score, but Littlefield popped out to second to end the threat.
Chase struck out sophomore pinch-hitter Abigail Flint and got Leavitt to look at strike three to start the seventh. McGouldrick then showed off her dazzling speed by beating out a bunt single and taking second on a wild pitch, but Chase got Wilcox to fly to Fischer to keep McAuley within two runs.
Gaudette made quick work of the Lions in the bottom half.
Bailey led off by hitting the ball hard, but it was directly at Deering in left. Beaulieu grounded out to short and hurt her ankle in the process. Donovan then ended the game by popping out to second.
Chase fell to 1-3 after giving up two unearned runs on five hits in seven innings. She fanned six, didn’t walk a batter and threw two wild pitches.
Offensively, Fischer led the way with two hits and two stolen bases.
“Today was probably Kim’s best game, both in the field and at-bat,” said Armandi. “She got on every time and didn’t miss a catch.”
The Lions left six runners.
For Gorham, Corbett and Murray scored the runs. Gaudette improved to 5-3 by allowing six hits and one walk in seven shutout innings. She struck out three.
Gorham (seventh in the Western Class A Heal Points standings) is back in action Tuesday at Bonny Eagle. After playing at Marshwood Wednesday, the Rams host Cheverus Friday and play at Windham Monday.
McAuley (now 14th in Western A, where just 12 teams make the playoffs) looks to bounce back Wednesday, when Bonny Eagle pays a visit. After hosting Scarborough Friday, the Lions visit Thornton Academy Monday.
“We’re a young team,” Armandi said. “It’s a learning curve. We have to shake it off and come back. I don’t care from here on out if we win or lose. I just want to see us stop making errors. We can’t beat anybody if we beat ourselves. We have to come ready to play every single game and do the best we can. If we work hard, we’ll see positive results. We have a great team. We have to start acting like one.”
McAuley senior Taylor Whaley takes a swing.
McAuley sophomore shortstop Ally Tillotson makes a throw across the diamond.
Gorham third baseman Noelle DiBiase makes a nice stab.
Gorham senior pitcher Julia Gaudette shows her form.
McAuley starter Anya Chase didn’t allow an earned run Monday, yet took the loss.
McAuley shortstop Ally Tillotson applies a tag too late on a Gorham steal attempt.
McAuley 4 @ Gorham 2
Gorham 6 @ McAuley 0
McAuley 4 @ Gorham 0
@ McAuley 12 Gorham 0 (5)
McAuley 8 @ Gorham 3
Gorham 5 @ McAuley 3
@ Gorham 3 McAuley 2
Gorham 3 @ McAuley 1
@ Gorham 13 McAuley 1 (5)
McAuley’s Kim Fischer slides into second base to complete a steal during Monday’s home game against Gorham. Fischer had a pair of hits and two steals, but the Lions lost, 2-0.
Jim Allen photos.
More photos below.
G- 000 011 0- 2 5 1
M- 000 000 0- 0 6 2
Murray scored on throwing error.
Corbett scored on wild pitch.
M- Fischer 2, Rairdon
Left on base:
Gaudette and Harris; Chase and Donovan
Gaudette (W 5-3) 7 IP 6 H 0 R 1 BB 3 K
Chase (L, 1-3) 7 IP 5 H 2 R 0 ER 0 BB 6 K 2 WP