June 15, 2013

H.S. softball finals: Greely's run to title has one obstacle left

The Rangers, who ended Fryeburg Academy's reign, face Oceanside in the states.

By Steve Craig scraig@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The Greely High softball team has spent all season clearing hurdles.

click image to enlarge

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

SATURDAY'S SOFTBALL SCHEDULE

CLASS A: Scarborough (18-1) vs. Skowhegan (14-5), noon at Cony High, Augusta

CLASS B: Greely (15-4) vs. Oceanside (18-1), 11 a.m. at St. Joseph's College, Standish

CLASS C: Madison (19-0) vs. Bucksport (19-0), noon at Brewer High

CLASS D: Richmond (16-0) vs. Penobscot Valley (18-1), 3 p.m. at St. Joseph's College, Standish

Shutting down Eastern Class B champ Oceanside's potent offense will be the final obstacle between the Rangers and their first state title since 2002.

Saturday's state final is at St. Joseph's College at 11 a.m.

Oceanside (18-1), the second seed in the East, took down top-ranked Gardiner 11-4 with 19 hits in its regional final.

The Rangers (15-4) generated three hits in their 2-1 West final win over Gray-New Gloucester.

"We definitely didn't play up to what we're capable of," Greely Coach Jessica Gomez said. "We did play well but we haven't hit the ball the way we're capable."

It was their second straight 2-1 win. In the regional semifinal Greely cleared a huge physical and emotional barrier by beating top-ranked and five-time Western B champ Fryeburg.

"That game was huge for us," said first baseman Mykaela Twitchell, who has consecutive game-winning singles. "For us, Fryeburg was just that team that we had to beat."

In other state finals, West No. 1 Scarborough (18-1) will look for its fourth title in seven years when it faces East No. 4 Skowhegan (14-5) in Augusta at noon. Scarborough beat Skowhegan in the 2007 and '09 title games.

In Class C, undefeated Madison (19-0) and reigning champ Bucksport (19-0) go for the title at noon at Brewer.

The Class D game is a rematch as West champ Richmond (16-0) faces defending champion Penobscot Valley, led by pitcher Kayla Dube, at St. Joseph's (3 p.m.). The Howlers won last year's game, 4-2.

Greely started the season with the bitter memory of losing to Fryeburg in the 2012 regional final. Former Ranger star and one-year coach Sarah Jamo had taken the head coaching job at the University of Southern Maine, making Gomez the fourth varsity coach in four years.

Then lone senior and starting pitcher Dani Cimino looked at a practice field full of freshmen and sophomores.

"There are a lot of little kids. Physically they are tiny kids," Cimino said.

Key returners Cimino, Twitchell and third baseman Elyse Dinan were quickly won over by the talent of the young players.

"Their size says nothing about their playing. They're fantastic. All of them," Cimino said. "By the fourth game into the season we said, these kids play like upperclassmen. They know what they're doing. Mechanically they do everything correct. They pay attention. It was really nice to see that."

There's also a change in attitude.

"Last year with so many seniors it was more of an intense pressure," Dinan said. "This year we're still taking it seriously but it's more of a relaxed, loose energy."

It's hard to take anything too seriously when players like freshman middle infielders Sarah Felkel (shortstop) and Lexi Faietta (second base) are around. While their veteran teammates were speaking at Thursday's practice, Felkel and Faietta were engaged in an impromptu wrestling match.

Dinan shook her head and laughed.

"It's a little looser today but we always have the energy there," she said.

Cimino is regarded as one of the top pitchers in the state. She will play next year at Wheaton College and already has had success in a championship venue.

As a setter she led Greely to consecutive Class A volleyball titles.

"Winning (in volleyball) junior, senior year was definitely huge for me mentally preparing myself for softball," Cimino said. "Setting is a pretty lonely job and pitching is the same way."

Oceanside is led by Brooke Dugan and Kennadi Grover. Both batted over .500 in the regular season. Dugan scored 36 runs in 16 games, driven in 25 and pounded 12 extra-base hits, including three home runs.

(Continued on page 2)

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