Thursday, April 24, 2014
By Steve Craig firstname.lastname@example.org
Coaching at Greely High is something of a homecoming for first-year varsity softball coach Jessica Gomez.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Katie Taylor, Noble, sophomore outfielder: Hitting second in the Knights' lineup, Taylor had four hits with a three-run homer against McAuley, a two-run double and three RBI against Deering, and two hits with a double against Windham.
Erin Brayden, Thornton Academy, junior first base: Cracked a two-run homer with a double and single in a 7-0 win against Kennebunk, and went 3 for 4 with two doubles against McAuley.
Breanna Lifland, Bonny Eagle, freshman outfielder: Batting .450, Lifland had three hits with five RBI against Cheverus and a pair of hits against Kennebunk.
Danica Gleason, South Portland, senior shortstop: Went 7 for 7 in two games with two doubles, a triple and five RBI.
AREA TOP 10
2. South Portland
6. Cape Elizabeth
10. Thornton Academy
She went to Cumberland area elementary schools until her family moved to Jackman before sixth grade. A 2001 grad of Forest Hills, Gomez, then known as Brady, was a four-time, first-team America East pick at the University of Maine and set since-broken Black Bear records for hits in a season and career stolen bases. She was a tri-captain on the 2004 team that advanced to the NCAA tournament.
Gomez said when she was coming out of tiny Forest Hills, her family and friends believed she could play Division I softball.
"But there were definitely people telling me that I had no idea what I was getting into. I worked really, really hard and had success," Gomez said.
This season it has been Gomez's team proving it can play at a higher level. The Rangers won their fifth straight game in Tuesday's cold drizzle, beating Yarmouth, 11-8. Greely is 11-2 behind a solid team getting an all-star caliber season from pitcher Danielle Cimino.
"We have a real young team. The expectations were kind of up in the air coming into the season," Gomez said. "They have definitely exceeded my expectations to this point. They're playing very well."
Cimino "has improved her whole entire game," said Gomez, who was an assistant coach last season, "but the biggest part of her growth is the mental aspect. She has a lot more confidence and control. She's able to control the entire game from the mound."
Cimino also has produced at the plate.
In the most recent five-game winning streak, Cimino has three home runs, three doubles and a triple.
She's not the only Ranger showing power.
Third baseman Elyse Dinan has three home runs this season. Dinan, Miranda Moore (twice) and Mykaela Twitchell joined Cimino in the long-ball category over the past five games with Sarah Felkel hitting consistently.
The Rangers will have the opportunity to test their mettle in pretournament showdowns Friday at Cape Elizabeth (12-1) and Tuesday in the regular-season finale at five-time Western Class B champion Fryeburg Academy (13-1).
Greely hasn't played Cape yet and lost its opener to Fryeburg, 4-1.
"We have the potential to be the No. 1 seed," Gomez said. "The last two games are really going to test our mental toughness, and we get to display everything we've learned and gone over this season."
ANOTHER TEAM swinging well is Bonny Eagle, which did have a setback Wednesday with a loss to Westbrook.
"We're averaging about 13, 14 hits a game," said Sue Rondeau, the Scots' first-year coach. "The weird thing is it's always someone different. We're getting a solid seven, eight bats (in the lineup). Some games it's the bottom of the order and other games it's the top."
Freshman Breanna Lifland leads the offense with a .450 average. Pitcher Allison Pike is averaging almost nine strikeouts per game.
Bonny Eagle is 9-5-1, with six wins and a tie in its last eight games. Last Wednesday against Marshwood, the game was called due to rain after seven innings, tied 5-5. By rule it will not be completed, Rondeau said.
The Scots have improved the most on defense this season after a 3-4 start.
"I made some small switches but really it was our best players making most of the errors," Rondeau said. "Mentally they were putting themselves down and we got over that hump."
On Monday night the Scots beat Windham 12-3 at St. Joseph's College.
Rondeau, whose maiden name is Picard, played softball and basketball at St. Joseph's, graduating in 2002.
"I kept asking if we could play there," she said. "And the Windham coach (Mark Tucker) was an assistant when I was there."
THORNTON ACADEMY and Noble both went 3-0 in dominating fashion last week. All three of the Trojans' wins were shutouts for Bailey Tremblay with a cumulative advantage of 31-0.
Noble outscored its opponents 44-1 and scored 74 runs in its last five games -- until a 7-3 loss Wednesday to Marshwood. In that stretch Katie Taylor has been especially productive. Coach Rick Melanson said last year Taylor was usually used only as a designated player.
"I think she had five hits all season. She had four hits against McAuley alone," Melanson said, adding that Taylor has 20 hits, 19 runs and 18 RBI.
Steve Craig can be contacted at 791-6413 or at email@example.com