Red Storm Rocket 88s down Windham to stay perfect

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Scarborough senior pitcher Chloe Griffin and senior catcher Hunter Greenleaf celebrate the Red Storm’s 6-0 home victory over Windham Wednesday. Defending Class A champion Scarborough extended its regular season win streak to 88 games.

Joe Carpine / 365digitalphotography.com photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

SCARBOROUGH—Most teams won’t win a game when they muster all of four hits and make two errors.

But most teams aren’t the Scarborough softball team.

In fact, no team is the Scarborough softball team and the Red Storm, despite their bats going cold, added another victorious feather to their cap in their penultimate regular season contest Wednesday afternoon at the Kippy Mitchell Sports Complex.

After senior ace Chloe Griffin set visiting Windham down in order in the top of the first, Scarborough didn’t hit the ball out of the infield, and barely made contact at all, in the bottom half, but still ended the frame with a commanding 4-0 lead.

After sophomore shortstop Bella Dickinson and senior centerfielder Laura Powell drew walks, Griffin moved the runners up with a ground ball and senior catcher Hunter Greenleaf was walked intentionally. Senior leftfielder Sam Carriero brought in a run with a ground ball and after an intentional walk to senior rightfielder Lindsey Kelley, senior first baseman Felicia O’Reilly beat out a little bloop on the infield to score a run and two more came home on an error to send the Red Storm on their way.

Carriero was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the second and Griffin hit an RBI single in the sixth before doing the rest on the mound, allowing just two hits and striking out 12, never allowing the Eagles an opportunity to rally, as Scarborough went on to a 6-0 victory.

The win was the Red Storm’s 15th without a loss this season, marked their mindboggling 88th straight in the regular season, locked up the top seed in the Class A South field yet again and in the process, dropped Windham to 9-6.

“Us seniors don’t plan to be the ones to lose,” Griffin said. “There’s a lot of history and we don’t want to be the team that doesn’t win. It’s a weird goal to have. I don’t think we put pressure on ourselves. We know if we go out and perform, we’ll be fine.”

Big Red Machine

What the Scarborough program continues to accomplish defies explanation and probably won’t be truly appreciated until it’s a thing of a past, something which might not happen for a long, long time.

Since joining the Southwestern Maine Activities Association for the 2004 season, the Red Storm have lost just eight regular season games (out of 236), none since a 3-2 (eight-inning) home setback to Sanford May 6, 2013, reached the regional final in 13 out of 14 years and have captured five Class A state titles, including last year’s.

This spring, Scarborough has remained the gold standard.

The Red Storm opened with an 18-0 five-inning home win over Deering, then downed host Cheverus/North Yarmouth Academy in five-innings (22-0) before pulling away to beat visiting Gorham in a regulation contest (12-3) and dominating host Maine Girls’ Academy/Falmouth (32-0, in five-innings) and host Kennebunk (15-1, in five-innings). After passing a home test against Noble, 6-0, Scarborough returned to its dominant ways, rolling at Massabesic (9-0), at home over Sanford (12-0, in five-innings), at Portland in a regional final rematch (11-0), at South Portland (11-2), at home over Marshwood (13-1, in five-innings) and at Westbrook (12-6). Last Thursday, the Red Storm got their biggest test to date, but passed it, holding off visiting Thornton Academy, 3-1. Monday, Scarborough romped at Biddeford, 14-0, in five-innings, to make it 190 runs scored and just 14 allowed to date.

Windham opened with wins over visiting Westbrook (5-4) and Bonny Eagle (12-7). After losing at Biddeford (15-3), the Eagles handled visiting Deering (15-1) and host Cheverus/NYA (17-4). Losses to visiting Gorham (8-7), host Maine Girls’ Academy/Falmouth (6-5), host Kennebunk (10-4) and visiting Noble (11-2) were followed by victories at Massabesic (5-2), at home over Sanford (18-14) and Marshwood (7-6), at Portland (11-4) and at home over South Portland (9-5).

Last year, Scarborough won both meetings, 15-0 (in five-innings) at Windham in the regular season and 5-0 at home in the Class A South semifinals.

Wednesday, on a very pleasant afternoon (68 degrees at first pitch with scattered clouds), the Eagles hoped to win their sixth straight game and beat Scarborough for the first time since May 25, 2006 (1-0 in Scarborough), but Scarborough made it a 15 straight in the series.

Griffin caught senior shortstop Lauren Talbot looking at strike three to start the game, then got her opposite number, senior Erin Elder, to pop foul to O’Reilly at first and sophomore catcher Chloe Wilcox to line out to junior second baseman Courtney Brochu.

The Red Storm then went out and put four runs on the board more with their eyes and their legs than with their bats.

Dickinson got things started by drawing a four-pitch walk, then stealing second base. After Powell walked on a 3-2 pitch, Griffin hit a ground ball to Talbot to short and her only play was to first for the first out. Eagles coach Travis Demmons then took the bat out of Greenleaf’s hands, having her walked intentionally to set up a force out at home, but it didn’t work, as Carriero squibbed the ball in front of the plate and Elder’s only play was to first as Dickinson scored the game’s first run. With runners at second and third, Kelley was walked intentionally as well and O’Reilly hit a very soft line drive that landed in front of Talbot at short. O’Reilly beat it out for an infield hit, scoring Powell, but compounding matters for the visitors, sophomore first baseman Callie Fielding couldn’t handle the throw and the ball rolled out of play, allowing both senior courtesy runner Ivy DiBiase and Kelley to come home to stretch the lead to 4-0.

“I think we just put pressure on other teams’ defenses,” Griffin said. “Teams feel pressure when they play us and we run everything out.”

“We were fortunate,” said longtime Scarborough coach Tom Griffin. “They took a chance and it didn’t quite pay off. They made a mistake at the wrong time. It helped to get up early.” 

Brochu bounced out to short to end the inning, but the damage was done, as one bloop hit, four walks and an error spelled a big deficit.

Senior third baseman Alexandra Morang tried to spark a rally when she led off the second with a single to left, but Chloe Griffin quickly squashed it by catching senior second baseman Taylah Piazza looking at strike three and blowing strike three past both Fielding and sophomore leftfielder Whitney Wilson.

The Red Storm tacked on a run in the bottom half, again with some help from Elder, who had trouble finding the plate.

After freshman designated player Mollie Verreault struck out looking on a 3-2 pitch leading off, Dickinson walked again, again stole second, and Powell walked as well. After Griffin grounded out to second to move the runners up, Greenleaf took two balls, then was walked intentionally again. That brought up Carriero, who was hit on the foot and Dickinson came home with the fifth run. Kelley had a chance to break the game open, but she bounced back to the mound to end the frame.

Griffin remained dominant in the top of the third, catching freshman rightfielder Shyler Fielding looking at strike three, fanning senior centerfielder Katelyn Troiano and getting Talbot to ground out to short.

Wilson replaced Elder on the mound in the bottom half, as Elder took over in centerfield and Troiano moved to left. Wilcox then retired Scarborough in order, getting O’Reilly to pop foul to the catcher, Brochu to pop out to short and Verreault to line out to center.

Griffin had another 1-2-3 inning in the top of the fourth, getting Elder to ground out to senior Emily Jefferds at third, Wilcox to pop out foul to Greenleaf near the fence and Morang to pop out to short.

Dickinson led off the bottom half with a sharp single off the glove of Morang at third, but she couldn’t advance, as Powell flew out to center, Griffin flew out deep to center and Greenleaf popped out to second.

Windham had its first good chance to score in the top of the fifth, but came up empty.

After Griffin struck out Piazza leading off, Callie Fielding drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch, then Wilson dropped down a bunt and reached when Brochu, covering first, couldn’t hold on to the ball for an error. Griffin avoided further damage, however, by striking out Shyler Fielding swinging and getting Troiano to pop out to short.

Carriero led off the bottom half with a single up the middle, but Elder made sure she stayed put by making a nice running catch to rob Kelley of extra bases, then running down O’Reilly’s deep fly ball before Brochu popped out foul to first.

The Eagles put two more runners on in the sixth, but couldn’t get them home.

Griffin got Talbot to pop out to short, but Elder reached on a bunt when Griffin threw the ball away for an error.

“I think the girls can anticipate where we’ll be spending a lot of our (practice) time tomorrow,” Tom Griffin said. “They know defense is how we win.”

Elder then stole second and Wilcox singled to center. Elder had to hold at third, but Wilcox moved up on the throw. Neither runner could advance, as after fouling off several pitches, Morang swung and missed at strike three and Piazza fanned as well.

Scarborough added its final run in the bottom half.

After Verreault grounded out to third and Dickinson made an out for the only time all day, on a fly ball to right, Powell walked on a 3-2 pitch, moved up on a wild pitch, then came home when Chloe Griffin singled sharply to left.

“We were a little bit off-balance at the plate and we struggled to get it going, so it was nice to give myself some insurance,” Griffin said.

Greenleaf flew out deep to left, but the Red Storm were on the brink of victory.

Griffin didn’t delay the inevitable in the seventh, getting Callie Fielding to look at strike three, Wilson to pop out to first and senior Caila Elder to watch strike three to bring a close to the 6-0 victory in 1-hour, 37-minutes.

“We did a good today not overlooking this team,” said Chloe Griffin. “The coaches always keep us focused on the challenge in front of us.”

“Windham has some quality arms, they swing the bats well, they’re well-coached and they bring a lot of enthusiasm,” Tom Griffin said. “I respect that.”

Chloe Griffin improved to 9-0 after throwing a two-hit shutout, walking just one and fanning a dozen.

“I felt good,” Chloe Griffin said. “It was a good game. Hunter called a great game. She calls it and I just threw it. She did a really good job. My screwball was working pretty well. I haven’t brought it out too much this season, but I figured why not? It was looking good in warmups, so we used that a lot. My change-up was also working well.” 

“Chloe was great,” said Tom Griffin, of his niece. “She really dominated. This was her best game all year. She’s had some games where she was behind in the count, but there may have been one time today when she had to throw a strike. That was pure Chloe right there. That’s what we’re looking for. She and Hunter have worked together for a long time. Hunter calls a great game.” 

The Red Storm had their lowest offensive output of the year with just four hits, but Dickinson and Powell both scored twice and DiBiase and Kelley also came home.

Carriero drove in two runs, while Griffin and O’Reilly each had one RBI.

Dickinson stole two bases.

Scarborough left seven runners on base.

Windham stranded five runners. 

Erin Elder fell to 2-2 after giving up five runs (three earned) on just one hit in two innings. She walked seven, struck out one and hit a batter.

Wilson allowed just one run in four innings of relief. She surrendered three hits and one walk and threw a wild pitch.

Finale

Windham (now sixth in the Class A South Heal Points standings) finishes its season Friday against another powerhouse, Thornton Academy.

Scarborough (which will be the top seed in the region for the seventh straight year) closes Friday at home versus Bonny Eagle.

“We have to finish up our job Friday in our last regular season game, then we have to stay locked in and we have to take it day-by-day,” said Chloe Griffin. “If we do, we have a great shot. The eight seniors don’t want to leave high school without (a championship). We were a Little League All-Star team, so we’ve been playing together for a long time. Scarborough’s never had a repeat. There’s no other way any of us want to leave high school than with one. That would be a perfect ending.”

“I told the girls to win our Senior Game, then we can relax a little bit,” Tom Griffin said. “When the seniors were really young, they had such great success and played well together and fed off each other. They’ve motivated and pushed each other to keep up. They all love the game. They’re a special group. Great kids. They know how to work hard and prepare. They’ve done everything the right way. I give a lot of credit to their parents too for letting them go the extra mile.

“We got the No. 1 seed, which we’ve worked so hard for. Then, we’ll have a layoff and we’ll prepare for the playoffs. We’ll rest and regroup. Games will tighten up in the playoffs. We have to play really good defense, stay away from big innings, keep moving runners and trust that our offense will eventually explode.”

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

Scarborough senior Chloe Griffin shows off her two-hit, 12-strikeout form. Griffin improved to 9-0 on the season.

Scarborough senior first baseman Felicia O’Reilly makes contact.

Scarborough sophomore Bella Dickinson steals second base.

Scarborough senior Laura Powell welcomes senior Ivy DiBiase to the plate.

Scarborough senior catcher Hunter Greenleaf catches a foul ball.

Scarborough sophomore second baseman Courtney Brochu catches a line drive.

Scarborough shortstop Bella Dickinson makes a throw to first.

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