Greely’s softball team enjoyed a fabulous season in 2016, but ultimately the Rangers fell just one run short of their goal of playing for a state championship.

Greely posted a 13-3 mark this spring, winning its final eight games. As the No. 3 seed in Class B South, the Rangers eliminated No. 6 Fryeburg Academy (4-1) in the quarterfinals, then ended the title reign of No. 2 Yarmouth, avenging playoff losses each of the past two years with a decisive 8-1 victory on the Clippers’ home diamond.

Last Wednesday, Greely made the trip to St. Joseph’s College for the regional final for the first time since 2013 and squared off against top-ranked York, a team that beat the visiting Rangers, 5-4, back on May 4.

Greely got the jump early against the Wildcats and their Fordham University-bound ace Stephanie Rundlett, taking advantage of an error and wild pitch to lead, 2-0.

York battled back with two runs in the third inning and took a 3-2 lead in the fourth, but after squandering a bases loaded, one out opportunity in the fifth, the Rangers saved their best for last, tying the score in the seventh.

Sarah Felkel reached after she was hit by a pitch and with two outs and two strikes, Felkel raced home on a Rundlett wild pitch to tie the game and keep Greely’s title dreams alive.

Those dreams would be dashed in the bottom of the seventh, however, when Maeve Campbell ripped a one-out double to score Alex York and the Wildcats prevailed, 4-3.

“York was a much improved team from the beginning of the season,” said Rangers coach Rob Hale. “In May, they were a one-woman show. Rundlett carried them. But they improved their offense and were able to give her some run support later in the season and in the playoffs. We used every available means to get on base, a hit, walk, hit by a pitch, error and dropped third strike, but once we got a runner to third base, Rundlett bore down. She was able shut us down with a timely strikeout or two (Rundlett had 14 strikeouts for the game).

“The loss was tough but we didn’t hang our heads. The previous two years we were eliminated in the playoffs embarrassingly, as we gave games away. This year, we played well but just the other team played a little better than us.”

Greely finished the season 15-4.

While we won’t call our season disappointing, I will say is was unfulfilling,” Hale said. “We certainly enjoyed the journey, it just wasn’t the destination we had planned. We didn’t expect anything less than a regional title.

“I could not have asked for a finer bunch of athletes to coach. They love to compete and have fun.”

The Rangers will be hard-hit by graduation, as Felkel, Charlotte Benoit, Evan Carrell, Kate Currier, Miranda Eisenhart and Lexi Faietta all depart, but ace pitcher Kelsey Currier returns, as do centerfielder Kayley Cimino, catcher Jennie Smith and shortstop Moira Train. 

Look for others to fill the holes as Greely makes another run at the top spot.

“We’ll have to replace five starters and my first bat off the bench,” Hale said. “I will also have to replace my co-coach, John Eisenhart. Yikes. We didn’t have a JV program, so it will be interesting. While my bench players got to experience what it is like to be a varsity player, it was mostly by observing. They didn’t get the playing time they would have if we had a JV program. The middle school numbers are small also, so we will see. I will be scouring the hallways to get old softball players to return or recruit some athletes that are not doing a spring sport. It would be nice to have full JV and varsity teams again.

“With our queen, Kelsey Currier, returning next season, we will be competitive. She will keep us in every game as a pitcher and with her bat.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.