Scarborough gets a test from Noble, but wins yet again

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Scarborough senior Lilly Volk, right, is greeted by her teammates after belting a three-run first inning home against Noble Saturday morning. Volk also went the distance and struck out 13 batters in an 8-3 Red Storm victory.

Mike Strout photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Scarborough 8 Noble 3

N- 003 000 0- 3 6 2
S- 300 050 x- 8 7 1

Bottom 1st
Volk homered to left, Griffin, Powell and Volk scored.

Top 3rd
Aleva singled to right, Cipolla scored. Ka. Lessard reached on infield single, Aleva scored. Boucher doubled to left, Ka. Lessard scored.

Bottom 5th
Kelley reached on error, Jefferds scored. O’Reilly reached on error, Brochu scored. Greenleaf flew out to right, Kelley scored. Dickinson singled to right, O’Reilly scored. Griffin doubled to center, Dickinson scored.

Repeat hitters:
S- Dickinson, Griffin, Volk

Runs:
N- Aleva, Cipolla, Ka. Lessard
S- Brochu, Dickinson, Griffin, Jefferds, Kelley, O’Reilly, Powell, Volk

RBI:
N- Aleva, Boucher, Ka. Lessard
S- Volk 3, Dickinson, Greenleaf, Griffin, Kelley, O’Reilly

Doubles:
N- Sanger
S- Dickinson, Griffin

Triple:
S- Griffin

Home run:
S- Volk

Stolen base:
S- Powell

Left on base:
N- 3
S- 6

Kelly and Aleva; Volk and Ricker

N:
Kelly (L, 11-4) 6 IP 7 H 8 R 4 ER 4 BB 2 K 2 HBP

S:
Volk (W, 6-0) 7 IP 6 H 3 R 3 ER 1 BB 13 K

Time: 1:46

SCARBOROUGH—Scarborough’s powerhouse softball team finally got pushed Saturday morning.

And the Red Storm pushed back.

And as a result, Scarborough did what it always does in the regular season.

Win.

Hosting a feisty Noble squad that wasn’t intimidated by its mighty foe, the Red Storm appeared destined for another lopsided victory when senior pitcher Lilly Volk crushed a three-run home run in the bottom of the first, but the Knights came back with a vengeance.

In the top of the third, Noble produced five straight hits to score three runs and just like that, it was a brand new ballgame.

With the University of Maine-bound Volk returning to form and Knights freshman Raegan Kelly matching her, the score remained 3-3 into the bottom of the fifth, when Scarborough finally seized control.

After a pair of runs scored on mishandled ground balls, junior Hunter Greenleaf delivered a sacrifice fly, freshman shortstop Bella Dickinson lined an RBI single and junior rightfielder Chloe Griffin capped the uprising with a run-scoring double. 

Volk set down the final 13 batters she faced, punctuating the victory by striking out the side in the seventh, and the Red Storm prevailed in the closest game they’ve played so far this spring, 8-3.

Scarborough improved to 15-0, won its mindboggling 72nd straight regular season contest and in the process, dropped Noble to 11-4.

“This was great, having to regroup,” said longtime Red Storm coach Tom Griffin. “It was exactly what we needed. We were going to find something out about ourselves, whether or not we could respond, and we did. I’m probably more proud of the girls today than I’ve been all season. Hopefully this will pay off down the road.”

Win after win

Scarborough’s senior class entered the game having contributed to 69 victories since the start of the 2014 season and Volk, Abbie Murrell and catcher Hannah Ricker had never lost a home game or a contest in the regular season.

Prior to Saturday, the Red Storm hadn’t been seriously tested, winning nine of 14 games by the 12-run mercy rule and their smallest margin of victory was eight runs.

Scarborough opened with a 12-0, six inning, win at Sanford, beat host Cheverus/NYA (16-0, in five innings) and downed Bonny Eagle in its home opener (9-1). The Red Storm then blanked visiting South Portland (11-0) , Portland (9-0) and Deering (27-0, in five-innings), beat visiting Gorham (15-1, in five-innings), won at South Portland (9-0), Maine Girls’ Academy/Falmouth (14-2, in five-innings), Windham (15-0, in five-innings), Marshwood (12-0, in five-innings) and Thornton Academy (18-6) before downing visiting Westbrook (19-1, in five-innings) and Massabesic (13-1, in six-innings).

Noble came into the season expecting to be a contender and the Knights haven’t disappointed.

Noble started with a 2-1 home win over South Portland and after falling, 2-1, at Thornton Academy, the Knights rattled off five straight victories: 11-1 over visiting Sanford, 6-1 at Deering, 11-7 at defending Class A state champion Biddeford, 19-4 over visiting Westbrook and 4-2 at Marshwood. After a 5-3 home loss to Portland, Noble bounced back by downing visiting Marshwood (4-3), host Gorham (6-1), visiting Massabesic (2-1), visiting Bonny Eagle (12-0) and host Cheverus/NYA (6-1). Wednesday, the Knights were upset at home by MGA/Falmouth (4-3).

Last year, Scarborough romped at Noble (19-0, in five-innings).

Saturday, the Knights sought their first victory over the Red Storm since a 1-0 triumph in the 2003 Western A Final, but instead, Scarborough made it 17 in a row in the series and ensured that a 3-2 (eight-inning) home loss to Sanford May 6, 2013 was its most recent in the regular season.

Volk made quick work of Noble in the top of the first, fanning senior third baseman Marisa Cipolla, getting Kelly to pop weakly to third and junior catcher Mackenzie Aleva to ground out to short.

The Red Storm’s bats went right to work in the bottom half and three batters in, the hosts were up by three runs.

Griffin led off by lining a triple past sophomore rightfielder Kassidy Lessard. After junior centerfielder Laura Powell drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch and subsequently stole second, Volk took a couple pitches, then found one to her liking and got all of it, sending it on an arc to deep leftfield, where sophomore Sammie Morrill could only watch it sail over the fence with distance to spare for a three-run home run and a 3-0 advantage.

“I had two balls and I just saw it and I took a whack at it,” Volk said. “Coach tells us not to focus on hitting a home run, but it feels good when it happens.”

Kelly would settle down, however, and get Murrell, the designated player, to ground out to second, junior leftfielder Sam Carreiro to bounce out to short and Kelley to do the same.

Volk started the second inning by pulling the string and striking out Kassidy Lessard, but on a 3-2 pitch, she walked junior first baseman Jordan Boucher and junior shortstop Lauren Sanger followed with a double to right-center to put two runners in scoring position. Volk then escaped the jam by getting both junior centerfielder Abbie Sprague and Morrill to look at strike three.

In the bottom half, junior first baseman Felicia O’Reilly led off by drawing a walk, but Ricker struck out and Dickinson bounced into a pitcher-to-shortstop force out. Griffin kept the inning alive by walking, but Powell popped out to second to end the threat.

Noble then broke through in stunning fashion in the top of the third and pulled even.

The frame began innocently enough, as freshman second baseman Kelsey Lessard struck out looking, but Cipolla beat out an infield single to the hole between short and third and when Dickinson’s throw got away, she went to second. Kelly followed with a bloop single and when Cipolla went to third, Kelly took second on the throw. Aleva followed and single to right, easily scoring Cipolla, but when Kelly tried to come around, Griffin fired home and Ricker grabbed the ball on the first base side of the plate and dove back to tag Kelly on the hand for the second out. Aleva took second on the play and scored when Kassidy Lessard followed with a bloop single off the glove of Kelley at third. Boucher followed by lining a double of Kelley’s glove and Lessard came home to make it 3-3. Volk finally escaped the inning by striking out Sanger, but the Knights had made things very interesting.

Kelly preserved the tie in the bottom half, getting Volk to ground out to second and after Murrell singled to right-center, with Sprague making a great play to cut the ball off to prevent extra bases, Carreiro bounced into a third-to-second force out and Kelley flew out to center.

Volk promptly returned to form in the top of the fourth, getting Sprague and Morrill to chase strike three and Kelsey Lessard to strike out looking.

Scarborough threatened in the bottom half, but couldn’t go back on top.

O’Reilly began by being hit by a pitch and after Ricker flew out to left, Dickinson ripped a shot to left that deflected off the glove of Morrill for a double. Griffin then bunted to third, where Cipolla looked O’Reilly back to the base before throwing to first for the out, and after just missing a three-run home run on a deep foul ball down the leftfield line, Powell took strike three.

Volk made quick work of both Cipolla and Kelly to start the fifth, getting Cipolla to fly to center on the first pitch and Kelly to ground to third on the first pitch she saw. Aleva then worked a full count, but took strike three.

And that set the stage for the Red Storm’s bats to reawaken.

Volk helped herself leading off by fighting off an inside pitch and directing it into left for a single. While less dramatic than her earlier home run, Volk’s single loomed huge in the big scheme of things.

“My job was just to put the ball in play and get on,” Volk said. “Look at the lineup behind me. If anyone gets on with no outs, we have confidence we’ll get that girl around.”

Junior Emily Jefferds came in as a courtesy runner and she took second when Murrell was hit by a pitch and reluctantly took first (Murrell wanted to stay at the plate with the bat in her hands). Carreiro worked the count full and hit a slow roller to Kassidy Lessard at second, whose only play was to first for the first out. Kelley then grounded the ball to second. Jefferds would have scored regardless, but when Lessard couldn’t handle the ball, Kelley was safe at first and sophomore Courtney Brochu, who ran for Murrell, went to third.

Deja vu occurred a batter later, as O’Reilly hit a grounder to second. Brochu came home and O’Reilly reached on an error with Kelley going to third. Greenleaf came in to pinch-hit and lofted a fly ball to right that scored Kelley on a bang-bang play at the plate for a 6-3 lead. O’Reilly went to second on the play and scored when Dickinson followed with a base hit to right. Griffin then pounded her second extra base hit, a double over Sprague’s head in center, and Scarborough’s five-run uprising was complete. Powell flew out deep to center to keep the score 8-3.

“All the girls all got involved,” Tom Griffin said. ‘Hunter got a nice sacrifice fly. I told Lindsey her slide got us three more runs. She got hurt a little bit, but she took one for the team.”

Volk continued her dominance in the sixth, getting Kassidy Lessard to pop to second, Boucher to line to short and Sanger to bounce out to first, where O’Reilly made a nice stab going to her right, before recovering and touching the bag to retire the side.

The Red Storm couldn’t add to the lead in the bottom half, as Volk walked on a full count pitch and after junior Ivy DiBiase came in to run, Murrell lined out to third and DiBiase was doubled off first. Carreiro grounded out to second for the third out.

Volk then closed the game in style in the seventh.

Volk started the frame by striking out Sprague swinging. Morrill then suffered the same fate. Then, at 12:52 p.m., Volk put a bow on the victory by blowing strike three past Kelsey Lessard to give Scarborough the 8-3 victory.

“I’m really proud of the team today,” Volk said. “I think this was the biggest game we’ve had all season and the biggest step we’ve taken all season. We were challenged and we overcame. It was a big game and it showed our true colors very well.”

“(Noble’s) very talented,” Tom Griffin said. “The catcher is an outstanding athlete. The pitcher might be the best we’ve seen. They’re very well-coached and they never give up.” 

Volk improved to 6-0 after going the distance and throwing a six-hitter. She gave up three runs, walked just one batter and struck out 13.

“They got a few little pokes here and there that got through,” Volk said. “My teammates did a great job not getting rattled. Even when I got rattled a little, they had full confidence in me and they picked me up. The confidence they have in me blows me away. I just had to pitch like I know I can.”

“Lilly had to regroup,” Tom Griffin said. “They had a few nice hits fall in. She settled down and found out how tough she can be.”

Dickinson, Griffin and Volk all had multiple hits.

Eight different players, Brochu, Dickinson, Griffin, Jefferds, Kelley, O’Reilly, Powell and Volk, scored runs. 

Volk had three RBI, while Dickinson, Greenleaf, Griffin, Kelley and O’Reilly had one apiece.

The Red Storm had four extra base hits, as Dickinson and Griffin doubled, Griffin tripled and Volk hit a home run. 

Powell stole a base.

Scarborough left six runners on base.

The Red Storm navigated a regular season undefeated at home for the fourth year in a row and have won with amazing regularity for a long, long time.

“(The girls) don’t even know (about the streak),” Tom Griffin said. “They just go out and play with a lot of confidence. It’s a special group of kids. All three seniors are major contributors to the program and they play the right way. Winning is their goal. That’s the only thing that will make them really happy.”

Noble’s runs were scored by Aleva, Cipolla and Kassidy Lessard. Aleva, Boucher and Kassidy Lessard had RBI. Sanger had the lone extra base hit, a double.

The Knights stranded three runners.

Kelly fell to 11-4 after giving up eight runs (four earned) on seven hits in six innings. She walked four batters, struck out two and hit two others.

One goal

Noble (now fifth in the Class A South Heal Points standings) closes with a makeup game at Windham Wednesday.

Scarborough will finish with a makeup game at Biddeford Monday at 11 a.m., as the Red Storm seek to avenge last year’s regional final loss.

Scarborough then will embark on a quest to win its first state championship since 2013.

The road to this year’s title will go through the Red Storm.

Again.

“It’s pretty cool, but we still have one more to go,” Volk said. “We’re taking it one game at a time. We know if we don’t play well now, we know we won’t play well later. We’re having so much fun. It just gets better each day we’re out here.” 

“Hopefully we’ll have some fun Monday,” Tom Griffin said. “The girls will be motivated to play the team that knocked us off last year. We are having so much fun and not only on the field. The other day, the three seniors went to school dressed as farmers and the others were farm animals. They do that kind of thing all the time. They enjoy each other’s company and that’s what it’s all about.

“We’re still a work in progress. We have to tighten up on defense and we have to make the right decisions and stay out of big innings.”

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

Scarborough senior pitcher Lilly Volk goes into her delivery. Volk improved to 6-0 on the season.

Scarborough junior Felicia O’Reilly makes contact.

Scarborough freshman Bella Dickinson lines a double in the fourth inning. 

Scarborough senior catcher Hannah Ricker receives the throw too late to tag out Noble junior Mackenzie Aleva.

Scarborough junior Lindsey Kelley tags up and scores a run in the fifth inning.

Noble senior Marisa Cipolla beats out a hit as Scarborough junior first baseman Felicia O’Reilly awaits the throw.

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