GORHAM — Sometimes a big hit can turn around a softball game, or a well-timed strikeout.

On Tuesday night, a go-for-broke dive by Windham center fielder Hannah Heanssler resulted in a sliding ice cream cone catch that saved a run and prevented a shaky beginning from becoming calamity.

Buoyed, the Eagles recovered from early jitters to beat Oxford Hills 3-1 on the campus of the University of Southern Maine and claimed their first Class A state championship. Windham finished 18-2.

Oxford Hills (18-2) managed three hits in the first two innings against Windham junior pitcher Brooke Gerry, who settled down to retire 13 in a row and finish with a four-hitter. By changing speeds, spins and location, she struck out 11 and allowed only one walk.

“After they scored that first run, we really knew that we had to dig down deep and we weren’t done,” Gerry said. “We knew that we had that fire in us and we just had to get going.”

Oxford Hills jumped to a quick 1-0 lead despite not putting a ball in play by more than five feet beyond home plate. Miah Gallan worked a seven-pitch walk and Maddy Miller reached on a one-out bunt, leaving runners at the corners.


Kaydence Morse dropped another bunt, squeezing Gallan home, and Gerry was unable to get Morse at first, again putting runners at the corners. Another run looked certain when Kyeria Morse hit a sinking liner to center, but Heanssler sprinted in and to her left to make a sprawling layout catch in the webbing of her glove.

“It was coming fast and I knew that I had to do whatever it takes,” said Heanssler, one of two seniors in Windham’s starting lineup. “It’s my last game, so go all out.”

Instead of tagging and scoring easily, a surprised Miller hastily scampered back to third base. She was stranded there when Gerry induced a harmless fly to escape the jam.

That failure to capitalize loomed large when Windham scored twice in its half of the first, without benefit of a hit. Gerry reached by error. One-out walks to Stella Jarvais and Jadyn Kimball loaded the bases, and Gerry scored on the second of two wild pitches.

Kennedy Kimball’s shallow sacrifice fly scored Jarvais, whose slide barely beat the throw from right field, to give the Eagles a 2-1 lead.

That lead grew to 3-1 in the home third, when Jadyn Kimball’s sharply-struck grounder caromed off Morse and into right field for a run-scoring single. Gerry singled to start  the rally and advanced on the third and final walk issued by Kyeria Morse, who allowed four hits and struck out seven.

Gerry split time as pitcher with Kennedy Kimball during the regular season but held four playoff opponents to a single unearned run in 28 innings, with 44 strikeouts and only nine hits.

“This playoff run, she’s been on another level,” said Darcey Gardiner, the first-year Windham head coach. “Balancing Brooke out with Kennedy really helped Brooke succeed during these playoffs.”

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