FREEPORT — After a regular season of resurgence, Freeport’s softball team made history Tuesday afternoon.

By winning a playoff game for the first time in 20 years.

The eighth-seeded Falcons got strong pitching from Ava Gervais and Izzy George, rode the booming bat of shortstop Rosie Panenka and took advantage of multiple mistakes by ninth-ranked Lincoln Academy to prevail 7-2.

And in the process, after winning just twice a year ago, Freeport (12-5) advanced to take on top-ranked York in the quarterfinals Thursday.

“I’m just speechless,” said Falcons Coach Jason Daniel. “To take this next step is just beyond me. The girls from the beginning of the season said that things were going to be different.”

With Gervais retiring the first six Eagles, Freeport went on top to stay in the bottom of the second against Lincoln Academy starter Payson Kaler, as two walks, two wild pitches and a two-out ground ball by Celia Cobb that was mishandled, led to two runs.


Brook Pawlowski, one of the Falcons’ two lone senior starters, then started a four-run uprising in the fourth that broke the game open, doubling to left and coming home to score on a ground ball. An error added a run, then Panenka drove in another with an infield single before a wild pitch made it 6-0.

“I think the chemistry and momentum we get when we’re all out there with a lot of energy really feeds us and gets us going,” Panenka said.

The Eagles (11-6) tried to rally in the fifth, scoring a run on a wild pitch, but George came on in relief and a runner was picked off at third to end the threat.

Lincoln Academy then scored an unearned run in the sixth, as Freeport made back-to-back errors, but George struck out Olivia Stiles for the final out.

“When we get momentum, we do great, but we have problems with pressure,” said Eagles Coach Tom Nelson, who announced after the game that he’s retiring after 10 seasons. “We made a few baserunning errors and we hit the ball right at people. We didn’t bring our best and when you don’t bring your best against a good team, this is usually the outcome.”

After Freeport got an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth, on Panenka’s third hit, a sharp RBI single, to score Vanessa St. Pierre, George slammed the door in the seventh, retiring Cat Johnson on a bunt to end it and the celebration began.


“The feeling is just amazing,” said Pawlowski. “It means a lot to me to do this senior year.”

“We held our defense today, Ava pitched really well out of the box and Izzy was stout in relief,” Daniel added.

Freeport lost 10-0 at York in the regular season, but will embrace being the underdog in the rematch as the Falcons don’t want their magical ride to end just yet.

“We like to shock the world,” Pawlowski said. “We’ll come out and bring it at York.”

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