CAPE ELIZABETH – Joe Henrickson doesn’t need a calendar to know when the games matter most.
That’s why he stressed to his Cape Elizabeth High softball players the importance of their game Thursday against Greely.
The Capers were ranked second in Western Class B coming in, the Rangers fourth.
“It was a playoff game, really,” he said. “It’s going to determine the seedings 1 through 4.”
And when it was over, the Capers had jumped up to first in the Heal point standings with one day left in the regular season.
Katie Rabasca allowed only one hit and Ashley Tinsman drove in two runs, one with a long homer, to pace the Capers to a 5-0 victory.
“The kids just battle, they have all year,” said Henrickson. “There’s not much difference between these teams.”
On this day it was the pitching of Rabasca — who wasn’t overpowering but moved the ball all around the plate — Tinsman’s hitting and a nearly perfect defense.
Cape Elizabeth finished the regular season 15-1. Greely is 12-3 and must play a regular-season finale Friday against Fryeburg Academy, which was top-ranked heading into Thursday. Fryeburg could regain the No. 1 spot with a victory.
“It’s another challenge for us to step up to,” said Greely Coach Jessica Gomez. “We’ll see if we can do it.”
That’s something she said the Rangers couldn’t do against the Capers.
“They’re a great team,” said Gomez. “This was a good test for us and we didn’t step up to the challenge.”
Much of that was because of Rabasca, who changed speeds and locations to keep the Rangers off-balance. She allowed only four base runners — two walks, one error and one hit — in a masterful performance.
“She was great, as always,” said Cape catcher Elise Flathers. “She was hitting her corners really well. And she knew when to throw the pitches that we needed.”
Rabasca looked completely relaxed in the pitching circle, though she said, “I really can never relax.”
It helped to have such a strong defense behind her.
Greely’s only hit was a looper to right by leadoff batter Sarah Felkel with two outs in the third. The ball squirted past right fielder Molly Thibodeau and Felkel tried for second.
But Thibodeau retrieved the ball quickly and threw the speedy Felkel out at second, with Tinsman, the shortstop, putting on the tag.
“That was a huge play by Molly,” said Rabasca.
Tinsman then led off the bottom of the third, and on a 1-0 count, drove a fastball from Dani Cimino well beyond the fence in left-center field for a 1-0 lead.
“At first I thought I hit it too low,” said Tinsman, “but then I watched the ball and it took off.”
Cape Elizabeth scored another run in the fourth without getting a hit, Tinsman knocking in Shannon Nicholson with a groundout to short.
It stayed that way until the bottom of the sixth when Cape Elizabeth scored three unearned runs, taking advantage of three Greely errors.
Greely, which had only one runner reach second base, simply couldn’t overcome its mistakes.
The Capers, meanwhile, like their chances.
“Knowing that we can beat them lets us think we have a pretty good chance,” said Tinsman.
“We can bring a lot of confidence into the playoffs.”
Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: