It’s been quite a summer if you’re a fan of baseball or softball teams from the city of Portland.
The run of the Portland softball all-star team came to an end at the regional tournament and Portland’s Babe Ruth baseball team won three games at the age-14 World Series, but ultimately fell short of the knockout round.
When Portland’s 9-10-year-old softball team lost to Windham in its first game at the District tournament in Baldwin, it appeared its summer would be cut short.
Portland had to win seven elimination games, including two against Scarborough, just to advance.
Portland went out and won all seven.
At the state tournament, Portland again didn’t make it easy on itself, losing its first game to Saco, then needing to win four in a row to advance.
Portland won four times and advanced.
That sent the team to Pennsylvania for the regional tournament.
True to form, Portland lost its first game of the double elimination tourney, 9-4, to a team from Rhode Island. A 10-0, “mercy rule” victory over Vermont followed, then Portland showed its indomitable heart one final time, rallying from a 3-1 sixth inning deficit to force extra innings against Connecticut, before Connecticut won the game with five runs in the seventh.
After eight weeks, the ride was finally over.
“The girls’ efforts were admirable at every stage of their journey, but what was special about this team was the amount of practice put in from June 11 through regionals,” said coach Julie Armstrong. “These girls sometimes even pulled double sessions and participated in two-plus-hour batting or fielding practices five to seven days a week.
“Our offense really woke up by the time we arrived at regionals. We practiced setting the pitching machines at 55 miles per hour and faster and so when we arrived in Pennsylvania, we had confidence that we could connect.”
While the season is over, the city of Portland figures to be the beneficiary of the girls’ success and experience for years to come.
“Many of the teams we faced had the advantage of having travel ball players on their team,” Armstrong said. “Our team had just one. However, as the result of this experience, almost every Portland player is seeking a travel ball opportunity in the hope that we can repeat in the future. This all-star experience will hopefully positively impact the participation and talent level of Portland girls softball for the next several years.”
Armstrong, whose daughter Sadie, dazzled on the mound all summer, was assisted by Michelle Hawkes and Ed Rogers.
Team members included Marcella Beyer-Labrecque, Ally Brady, Sophie Hill, Lindsay Rogers, Ruby Chase, Haley Mascolo, Hannah Hawkes, Ainsley Dunn, Hadleigh McPartlan, Anna Kennedy-Jensen, Sadie Armstrong and Maria DelMonte.
Portland’s Babe Ruth squad won three of five games, but it fell short of qualifying for the knockout round and its very successful summer came to a close.
Portland opened with a 3-0 victory over the host team, Westfield, Massachusetts, as Alex Smith threw a shutout and was named the game’s Most Valuable Players. Caden Horton, Garen Kelley and Liam Niles had RBI hits and Niles, Luke Hill and Nate Rogers scored runs.
After a 6-3 loss to Arkansas in which Portland made four errors and walked eight batters (Nate Rogers was named Maine’s game MVP after driving in two), the team bounced back to down Oregon, 3-1. Mike Jones was the winning pitcher and Kelley earned the save. Ike Kiely had three hits and was named the game’s MVP.
Sunday, Portland enjoyed a 2-1 victory over previously undefeated North Dakota, as Luke Hill went the distance, including a double play to end it, earning him game MVP honors. Brian Riley tied the game with an RBI double and Kiely’s RBI single scored Sonny Villani with the winner.
Monday, Portland needed to beat Janesville, Wisconsin to ensure a berth in the semifinals, but lost, 3-0.
We’ll have more on Portland’s Babe Ruth World Series experience in next week’s Forecaster.
Portland’s 9-10-year-old softball all-star team had its magical run ended at the regional tournament, but the team was hailed in the community for its effort.
Portland’s Babe Ruth baseball team won three of five games at the 14U World Series in Massachusetts, but failed to qualify for the knockout round.