YARMOUTH—It was the May 30th Miracle.
A comeback for the ages.
A finish that defied reason.
And most of all, for the Yarmouth softball team, it was a Heal Points-rich victory over ancient rival Falmouth.
Friday afternoon at the Yarmouth Community Sports Complex, the Clippers appeared overmatched from the start, as Yachtsmen sophomore pitcher Julia Treadwell held them at bay, while Falmouth’s offense built a 6-0 lead behind a home run from junior Elizabeth Walker and a two-run single from sophomore Jessica Collins.
But as it turned out, Yarmouth had the Yachtsmen right where they wanted them.
Trailing 7-2 entering the bottom of the seventh, the Clippers dug deep and pulled off a jawdropping rally.
Senior Abby Nielsen drove in a run with an RBI triple and scored on an error and after fouling off several pitches, junior Michelle Robichaud drove in senior Monica Austin (who had previously made a pair of stellar defensive plays to keep the game close) with a bloop double.
Yarmouth got the tying runs on base with two outs, but when junior Kallie Hutchinson sent a fly ball to rightfield, it appeared the end was near.
The ball was dropped and both runners scampered home to tie the game, 7-7.
That brought up sophomore Cat Thompson, who ripped a double to right and when the ball eluded the outfielder and rolled all the way to the wall, Hutchinson raced around the bases and scored the winner, unleashing an exuberant celebration as the Clippers prevailed, 8-7, improving to 8-6, while dropping Falmouth to 8-6 in the process.
“Honestly, I didn’t think we had a chance, but once we got that first run, we got confidence.” said Yarmouth coach Amy McMullin. “We’ve done it before. We always give it a fight. That’s something I love about this team. We’re resilient. We put the ball in play and the ball took a couple bounces our way and we kept fighting.”
Do you believe in miracles?
Falmouth and Yarmouth boast similar records this spring and over the years, the schools have been pretty even.
Entering Friday’s game, dating to the start of the 2002 season, each squad had beaten the other on a dozen occasions (see sidebar, below), with the road team going 14-10 in that span, winning each of the past four meetings.
The Yachtsmen, who will be playing up in the Class A tournament due to increased enrollment this year, downed visiting York in the opener, 12-4, then suffered a 4-1 loss at Cape Elizabeth before rattling off six straight wins: 17-0 (in five innings) over visiting Freeport, 7-4, over visiting Fryeburg, 7-1, at Gray-New Gloucester, 11-7, over visiting Greely, 11-7, at Kennebunk and 9-3, at Lake Region. Falmouth then was stymied twice by Wells: 5-2 (in 14 innings), at home, and 8-7, at Wells. After a 9-2 home win over Kennebunk, the Yachtsmen lost at home to Yarmouth, 7-4. After a showdown at Greely was postponed, Falmouth lost Wednesday at home to undefeated Cape Elizabeth, 6-1.
The Clippers, meanwhile, lost at Cape Elizabeth in the opener, 6-3, then lost at home to the Capers, 13-4. After home wins over Freeport (9-7), Fryeburg (7-5) and Gray-New Gloucester (5-4), Yarmouth fell at Greely, 5-4. A 5-0 win at Sacopee was followed by home losses to Lake Region (6-4) and Poland (6-0) and at Wells (15-10). The Clippers then turned it on by winning at Falmouth (7-4), York (8-1) and Freeport (21-0).
Friday, with the weather growing more ominous by the minute, Yarmouth stretched its win streak to four in the most improbable way imaginable.
Clippers sophomore pitcher Mari Cooper retired freshman shortstop Maddie Rouhana on a grounder back to the mound to start the game, then walked senior third baseman Amanda Carver. Cooper then induced Walker, the first baseman, to ground to short. Austin stepped on second for an out and looked to turn a double play, but Walker beat the throw to first. Treadwell then grounded out to short to end the frame.
Treadwell struck out Austin, the shortstop, looking and got senior Melissa Levinson to pop out foul to Walker at first to start the bottom of the first, but Robichaud singled to left and moved to second on an error. Sophomore designated player Bre Morrill then walked, but Hutchinson, the catcher, flew out to right to keep the game scoreless.
Falmouth got on the board in the top of the second.
After sophomore second baseman Emily Beaulieu popped out to second, sophomore centerfielder Krysia Lesniak doubled to the left-centerfield gap. Collins walked and was replaced by sophomore courtesy runner Kayleigh Rhodes. Cooper struck out sophomore leftfielder Erica D’Alberto to get to the brink of escaping the inning, but No. 9 hitter, senior flex player Chelsea Fagen, lined a single to right to score Lesniak for a 1-0 lead. After Fagen stole second, Rouhana struck out to end the frame.
Treadwell was dominant in the bottom half, getting Thompson, the third baseman, to chase strike three, O’Gorman, the rightfielder, to watch strike three and Nielsen, the leftfielder, to ground out softly to first.
The Yachtsmen doubled their lead in the third thanks to one mighty swing.
Carver led off by flying relatively deeply to center, but Robichaud made the catch.
She couldn’t do anything about the next ball hit her way, however.
On the first pitch she saw, Walker reached out for an outside pitch and hit a majestic drive toward left-center. Robichaud took a few steps, then realized she had no chance and watched the ball sail over the fence for a home run.
Treadwell singled up the middle and freshman courtesy runner Allison Murphy stole second, but Cooper prevented further damage by getting Beaulieu to pop out to first and Lesniak to ground out to second.
Treadwell maintained the 2-0 lead in the bottom half, getting senior second baseman Julia Anastos to fly deep to left, fanning Austin swinging and after allowing a single to Levinson, striking out Robichaud swinging.
Cooper set Falmouth down in order in the top of the fourth, as she struck out Collins swinging, got D’Alberto to ground back to the mound and Fagen to look at strike three.
Yarmouth could do nothing in the bottom half, as Morrill grounded out to Treadwell, Hutchinson hit a deep fly ball which Lesniak ran down in right-center and Thompson grounded out to second.
“I don’t think we were mentally ready after yesterday’s game when we didn’t see a lot of strikes,” McMullin said. “We tried to get here early for hitting practice, but nothing’s like seeing live pitching.”
The Yachtsmen then appeared to blow the game open in the fifth.
Rouhana led off with a single to center, but with Carver at the plate, Rouhana was ruled out for leaving the bag early. Carver then hit a deep fly ball to right, but O’Gorman ran it down for out number two.
Falmouth was only getting started, however, as Walker drew a walk, Treadwell singled to center (and was replaced by Murphy) and Beaulieu walked to load the bases. Lesniak walked as well and Walker trotted home for a 3-0 lead.
Collins then ripped a single to center, Murphy and Beaulieu scored. D’Alberto followed with a base hit to left and Lesniak came home to make it 6-0. Fagen bounced out to Cooper, but the damage was done.
With clouds gathering and rain in the forecast, the Yachtsmen needed only to get through the bottom half to make the game official.
They would do so, but in a sign of things to come, the Clippers, who could have folded up their tent, suggested that they weren’t going to go quietly.
O’Gorman got things started with a ringing single to center and when the ball was mishandled, O’Gorman raced all the way to third. After Nielsen lined softly to second, Anastos hit a slow grounder to short and O’Gorman came home to put Yarmouth on the board.
“It’s huge for a sophomore and we’re thrilled a sophomore stepped up in that position,” McMullin said. “(Eleanor) played a lot of varsity last year and she had confidence to be that spark we needed.”
Austin then grounded out to short to end the frame with Falmouth comfortably in front, 6-1.
The Yachtsmen tacked on one more run in the sixth.
Rouhana reached on an infield single off Cooper’s glove and Carver beat out a bunt single as Rouhana took third on a wild throw by Thompson. Carver stole second and Walker walked to load the bases. Treadwell grounded out to third, but Rouhana came home to make it 7-1.
Falmouth had a chance to grab an even bigger lead when Beaulieu hit a shot which appeared ticketed for leftfield, but Austin ranged to her right and in a tremendous defensive effort, not only stabbed the ball for an out, but threw to Anastos to complete a double play.
The Clippers answered with another run in the bottom of the sixth.
After Levinson flew out deep to left, Robichaud beat out an infield hit and stole second. After Morrill popped out to first, Hutchinson hit a grounder to short, but Rouhana’s throw was off-target and Robichaud came home with the run.
“We manufactured a few runs on very few hits,” McMullin said. “That was a positive.”
Treadwell escaped further damage, however, getting Thompson to ground out weakly to first.
Cooper had a strong top of the seventh, with more help from Austin.
After Lesniak grounded out to short, Austin again ranged to her right to make a fine stab of a line drive off the bat of Collins.
“Defense sparks my hitting,” Austin said. “My swing is here and there because I drop my shoulders. That’s because of my golf swing, but if I play a good defensive game, I do my job and help my team.”
D’Alberto then popped out to Anastos to set the stage for the bottom of the seventh.
A frame that no one on hand will soon forget.
O’Gorman again led off with a single and was replaced by sophomore Colleen Sullivan, but even after Nielsen tripled to right to score Sullivan and even after Nielsen continued home on a throwing error to cut the deficit to 7-4, few thought Yarmouth could come all the way back.
Anastos flew out to center, but Austin reached on an error by the third baseman. Levinson then hit a little pop up behind the mound on which Rouhana, falling to the ground, made a nice diving catch for out number two and Yarmouth was on the brink of defeat.
Robichaud was next and Treadwell had several opportunities to strike her out to end it, but Robichaud kept fouling off pitches and eventually blooped a double to center and Austin raced home to make it 7-5.
“I knew I was going all the way if (Michelle) hit the ball,” Austin said.
That brought Morrill to the plate as the potential tying run.
Morrill beat out an infield single and suddenly, the Clippers had the tying runs on base.
It all appeared academic when Hutchinson hit a lazy fly ball to right, but as junior rightfielder Katie Greene and Beaulieu converged on the ball, it popped out of Greene’s glove to not only keep the game going, but Robichaud (scoring easily) and Morrill (barely beating the throw) crossed the plate to tie the game, 7-7.
With all the momentum in its corner, Yarmouth went for the kill and it would be Thompson playing the role of hero.
Thompson ripped a shot to right which got down for a hit. Hutchinson was off on contact and rounded second, then, as the ball got past Greene, Hutchinson didn’t slow down, rounded third and with her teammates jubilantly bounding out of the dugout in pursuit, she touched home and the Clippers had an 8-7 victory, unleashing a massive celebration by the backstop.
“I was just trying to put the ball in play,” Thompson said. “It felt great (to see Kallie score). It’s pretty incredible. I think we all just really wanted it. The last inning we really pulled through. We always seem to come back. There were times when we doubted it, but we did this for the seniors. We have a rivalry with Falmouth. This was a big game. We wanted it really bad and we believed we could do it. I’m proud of the team. Everyone contributed.”
“Anything can happen,” Austin said. “(Softball’s) a hard game to play in the field. They made some errors and we had some hits. You have to be positive and after the Gray and Fryeburg games, we know we can do anything. We know errors will happen. You can get lucky. It was just our day. This game meant so much to the team. You know how big the Yarmouth-Falmouth rivalry is. We knew we needed this one.
“Two years ago, we won five games. Coach came in and turned around the program so much. We have so much confidence. We’re such a close team. The coaches are just so positive and are constantly telling us we can do anything we want to do if we want to do it and the seniors reiterate that. There’s never someone not cheering in the dugout. Everyone cheers for each other. We just try to stay positive.”
“We got momentum and (Falmouth) started doubting themselves,” McMullin added. “Luckily for us, they couldn’t make the final out. The girls believe. They truly do. They really believe they can come back. It’s something you can’t teach. It’s something you can’t fake. When you look and see them with their (rally) helmets on backwards, you love that as a coach. It was a complete team effort. It’s a great group.”
Yarmouth, which had just three hits through five innings, wound up with nine, as Robichaud had three and O’Gorman had two. Robichaud scored twice and Austin, Hutchinson, Morrill, Nielsen, O’Gorman and Sullivan each touched home plate once. Anastos, Nielsen and Robichaud had one RBI apiece. Robichaud and Thompson doubled, while Nielsen tripled. Robichaud also had a stolen base.
Cooper, who clearly wasn’t 100 percent physically, but who battled through seven innings regardless, improved to 7-4 after giving up seven runs (six earned) on 10 hits. She walked six and struck out four.
“Mari is just a fighter,” Austin said. “She was out the first two games and she’s pitched every game since. She’s not a pitcher, she’s a centerfielder. For her to do what she did is just amazing.”
“Mari battled all game,” said McMullin. “You could see she was in pain. I’m really proud of her. I love having her on the mound. We have complete confidence in her.”
Falmouth’s offense was paced by two hits apiece from Rouhana and Treadwell, Walker’s home run and two RBI from Collins. Lesniak and Walker both scored twice, while Beaulieu, Murphy and Rouhana had one run each. D’Alberto, Fagen, Lesniak, Treadwell and Walker all had one RBI. Lesniak doubled and Walker went deep. Carver, Fagen and Murphy stole bases.
Treadwell, who only gave up two earned runs, was the hard-luck loser and fell to 3-5. She gave up nine hits and a walk in 6.2 innings and fanned five.
To say the Yachtsmen were left shellshocked would be an understatement.
“You’ve got to catch the ball,” said Falmouth coach Ray Fox. “You’ve got to stop the ball. We haven’t played a good game in two weeks. I thought we were playing a good game today. We were hitting the ball. We were making plays in the field, then we made seven errors. You can’t win with seven errors. Our defense forced Julia to throw a lot of extra pitches and they got more confidence. We gave them extra bases and extra at-bats.”
No rest for the weary
Both teams are back in action bright and early Saturday morning.
Falmouth (eighth in Western A) has no time to lament, as it plays a makeup game at Greely.
“We have a 7:30 bus tomorrow morning,” Fox said. “I just told them that they have to believe they’re a good team. We’ve got 12 hours to turn it around.”
The Yachtsmen then close the regular season Tuesday at Poland, before measuring themselves against the top Western Class A teams in the playoffs.
Yarmouth (now sixth in Western B) is at Sacopee Saturday morning,
“It’s always hard to play a team a day after a big win,” McMullin said. “We’re hoping we can be mentally tough again and get the job done.”
The Clippers host Kennebunk Tuesday to finish.
Yarmouth clearly has the ability to do special things and is looking forward to seeing what the month of June will bring, even though they won’t soon forget the May 30th Miracle.
“I see us going as far as we want to go,” Austin said. “It’s just a matter of will. I’m very excited.”
“This means we can be in a better position for playoffs and hopefully get further than last year, which is our goal,” Thompson said. “We’re so close. We all bond really well. In the end, we just want to win. I think we can make something happen in the playoffs. I have faith.”
“We weren’t happy being in eighth,” McMullin added. “We knew we were better than our record showed. We want to play our best softball going into playoffs. If we come to play, we’ll be dangerous. We know we have to make plays in the field and put the ball in play. The league’s really wide open. We’ve been competitive with the top teams. As long as we focus on ourselves, we can be close with anyone.””
Falmouth sophomore Julia Treadwell throws a strike.
Yarmouth sophomore Mari Cooper delivers a pitch.
Falmouth sophomore Emily Beaulieu takes a swing.
Yarmouth sophomore third baseman Cat Thompson throws across the diamond.
Yarmouth sophomore Eleanor O’Gorman slides safely into third.
Falmouth sophomore catcher Jessica Collins lines a two-run single.
Falmouth sophomore Erica D’Alberto races to first.
Yarmouth senior leftfielder Abby Nielsen fields the ball.
Yarmouth sophomore Eleanor O’Gorman lines one of her two hits.
Falmouth freshman shortstop Maddie Rouhana dives to a make a catch for the second out of the bottom of the seventh inning, but the Yachtsmen would never register a third.
Yarmouth sophomore Bre Morrill slides in safely to tie the game, 7-7.
Yarmouth junior Kallie Hutchinson races home with the winning run with her exuberant teammates close behind.
Yarmouth’s softball team became a giant celebratory pile after its improbable comeback win.
Recent Yarmouth-Falmouth results
Yarmouth 7 @ Falmouth 4
Yarmouth 5 @ Falmouth 3
Falmouth 5 @ Yarmouth 3 (9)
Falmouth 12 @ Yarmouth 9
@ Falmouth 4 Yarmouth 3
@ Yarmouth 4 Falmouth 2
@ Yarmouth 5 Falmouth 1
Yarmouth 4 @ Falmouth 1
Falmouth 7 @ Yarmouth 4
Yarmouth 6 @ Falmouth 3
@ Falmouth 7 Yarmouth 4
Falmouth 14 @ Yarmouth 1 (5)
@ Yarmouth 9 Falmouth 3
@ Falmouth 3 Yarmouth 2
@ Yarmouth 3 Falmouth 0
Yarmouth 5 @ Falmouth 2
@ Falmouth 7 Yarmouth 0
Falmouth 9 @ Yarmouth 0
Western B prelim
Yarmouth 1 @ Falmouth 0 (11)
Yarmouth 6 @ Falmouth 2
@ Yarmouth 6 Falmouth 4
Falmouth 6 @ Yarmouth 2
Falmouth 10 @ Yarmouth 3
@Falmouth 6 Yarmouth 1
Yarmouth sophomore Cat Thompson (23) is hugged by senior teammate Monica Austin as others join in the fun after the Clippers cap a six-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning to shock Falmouth Friday afternoon, 8-7.
Mike Strout photos.
More photos below.