GORHAM — From the first day of practice back in March, Gorham softball coach Renee Whipkey saw something special in freshman third baseman Kiana Tracey.

And Wednesday, Tracey delivered in a big way.

Tracey drove in five runs to pace the eighth-ranked Rams to an 8-1 victory over No. 9 Marshwood in a Class A South preliminary-round playoff game at Robie Field.

Three of the RBI came in the fifth inning when Tracey drove a towering home run over the 12-foot fence in straightaway center field.

“When she makes contact, it’s solid contact,'” said Whipkey. “You don’t see many going out of dead center in Robie Field.”

That provided pitcher Grace McGouldrick with all the runs she would need. McGouldrick took a shutout into the final inning and struck out nine, allowing four hits and two walks.

Gorham (10-7) will play at top-ranked Scarborough (16-0) at 3 p.m. Thursday in the quarterfinals. The Red Storm defeated the Rams 15-1 on May 8.

“This feels amazing,” said McGouldrick, who has verbally committed to play at the University of Maine. “Last year was our first time in a couple of years making it to the second round. To be able to go back is awesome. I’m proud of the hard work this team put in.”

Marshwood (8-9) had defeated Gorham 7-3 on May 24.

This was a scoreless game for three innings. Then McGouldrick hit a one-out single in the bottom of the fourth.

She stole second and took third when the throw went into center field and was bobbled. Tracey then lined a single to left and the Rams led 1-0.

Gorham scored six times in the fifth, aided by Marshwood errors on the first three batters. Two of those runners scored. McGouldrick knocked in another when she hit a bases-loaded scorcher that Marshwood shortstop Lauren Leidemann-Smith somehow snagged, then twirled to force a runner at third.

That brought up Tracey, who sent the first pitch high over the fence for a three-run homer that made it 7-1.

“I knew something great was going to happen when she stepped to the plate,” said McGouldrick. “I just felt it.”

Tracey was ready to swing away. “My first at-bat she threw it right down the middle so I knew that was going to be a good one,” she said.

While that swing may have provided the crushing hit, the three infield errors – two on throws – were pivotal as well.

“When it comes to Class A softball in Maine, errors do cost,” said Chris Leclerc, Marshwood’s coach. “You just can’t let errors go. Someone will capitalize and today Gorham did. They hit well. You just have to make the plays.”

Tracey forced in Gorham’s final run when she walked with the bases loaded in the sixth.

McGouldrick, meanwhile, was dominant at times.

She struck out the side twice, and allowed only one hit and two baserunners entering the seventh.

“We had the sense, especially for the seniors, that this was the last game on our home field,” said McGouldrick.

“This game really meant a lot to us.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

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Twitter: MikeLowePPH