Early run enough to down Raiders in West softball final

STALWART EFFORT — Sophomore pitcher Nicole Bennett allowed just four hits in the West Final at St. Joseph's College Tuesday night, but Yarmouth broke through with a run in the first inning to defeat FA. (Rivet Photos)

STALWART EFFORT — Sophomore pitcher Nicole Bennett allowed just four hits in the West Final at St. Joseph's College Tuesday night, but Yarmouth broke through with a run in the first inning to defeat FA. (Rivet Photos)

STANDISH — Cat Thompson admitted she has a tough time hitting a change-up.

But, she tagged enough of a first inning change-up to knock the ball into the outfield for a base hit. That hit proved to be a difference make between keeping Fryeburg Academy out of the big game.

Thompson’s RBI single with two out plated the Class B West championships lone run Tuesday night as fourth-ranked Yarmouth edged the seventh-seeded Raiders (13-7) at St. Joseph’s College.

It was Yarmouth’s first Class B West title, and earned the Clippers (16-3) a shot at defending state champ Hermon (17-2).

For the Raiders, it was a night of missed opportunities. FA left a runner at third base in the second inning and a runner on in the third. Fryeburg’s best chance came in their last at bat. Makayla Cooper knocked a single off Yarmouth hurler Mari Cooper. An error put Amanda Gillette on with one out. But, FA was unable to deliver the clutch hit as Mari Cooper finished off a gem of a night, striking out the final two Raiders to set off a wild celebration.

FA Coach Fred Apt, who won his previous five trips to the Class B West Finals at St. Joseph’s, was proud of his club’s efforts this season, winning 13 games. Sophomore pitcher Nicole Bennett, like her counterpart Mari Cooper, allowed just four hits.

How they reached the West Finals

Prelim: Raiders 12, Morse 0: After the original prelim game date on Tuesday was rained out, the contest was moved to Wednesday afternoon. Morse (ranked 10th) plays in a different conference, so the Shipbuilders were a bit of an unknown to the Raiders.

It didn’t take the Raiders long to get things going in the right direction.

After Morse went 1-2-3 in the top of the first, Fryeburg struck for four runs in the bottom half of the inning. Mackenzie Buzzell and Kristen Chipman started with back-to-back singles. With the bases loaded, Makayla Copper added a two-run single to make the score 2-0. Lexi L’Heureux-Carland and Amanda Gillette added RBI hits to make it 4-0 after one.

Fryeburg kept the pressure on in the second inning by adding five more runs highlighted by a two-run double by Cooper. Fryeburg extended the lead to a comfortable 12-0 margin after three innings and cruised to a 12-0 win after five innings.

Nicole Bennett was super on the mound, giving up just one hit and one walk on the afternoon.

LINING UP A CATCH — Senior shortstop Kristen Chipman lines up a catch in last week's prelim win over Morse. Chipman had a big day in the semis with three hits against Gray-New Gloucester.

LINING UP A CATCH — Senior shortstop Kristen Chipman lines up a catch in last week's prelim win over Morse. Chipman had a big day in the semis with three hits against Gray-New Gloucester.

Offensively, the Raiders were led by Mackenzie Buzzell’s 4-for-4 day and three runs scored. Makayla Cooper ended the day going 2-for-3 and five runs batted in.

Quarters: Raiders 4, York 0: As good as the win was, it meant there was little time to prepare for the second-seeded York Wildcats. Raider players would do some light practice after the Morse game and then headed to York the next game for an early 2 p.m. start time.

York (15-1) had beaten Fryeburg earlier in the season 4-3 in 8 innings. York has a standout pitcher in Class B West Player of the Year Stephanie Rundlett, who fanned 18 Raiders the first time around. Coach Apt preached to the team that, “if we can put the ball in play 12 to 15 times where their defense has to make plays, we will be in good shape to get a W.”

The Raiders tweaked the lineup a bit by moving the team’s best speed threat, Julia Quinn, to the lead-off spot. It paid off immediately in the first inning as Quinn dropped a bunt that York couldn’t execute defensively, and Quinn moved to second. Quinn would then steal third and when an errant throw sailed into the outfield the Raiders would jump out to a quick 1-0 lead.

York had a chance to score in the bottom half with two runners on, but a ground out to Hailey Hudson at third base ended the threat.

The Raiders added a run in the third inning. Kristina Hudson battled her way to a walk to start the inning. Quinn walked and both runners advanced on a pass ball. Mackenzie Buzzell then had a great at bat where, after fouling off several pitches on a 1-2 count, she sent a deep ball to left field, enabling Hudson to tag up and score.

Sophomore hurler Nicole Bennett was cruising through four innings with the team up 2-0. The fifth inning would be where the Raiders were tested.

York got their #9 hitter on by error and then after two infield grounders, where the defense couldn’t get and out, the Wildcats suddenly had the bases loaded with one out, with the #3 and #4 hitters — Carr and Rundlett — due up. Bennett was equal to the challenge, recording a huge strikeout of Carr, and then got Rundlett to fly out to deep center to Buzzell, who made the catch look routine.

That ending seemed to rattle Rundlett as she took the mound in the sixth, as the Raiders added a pair of insurance runs. Kristen Chipman led off the inning with a double. Bennett wasted no time scoring Chipman with a double of her own, making it 3-0. Lexi L’Heureux-Carland knocked a RBI single to make it 4-0.

Bennett had no trouble retiring six straight batters to end the game and secure the victory.

As to Coach Apt’s pre-game goal of putting the ball in play 12 to 15 times to test York’s defense, the Raiders forced 16 chances.

Semis: Raiders 3, Gray-NG 2: Fryeburg was off to Gray-New Gloucester Saturday morning for a semi-final showdown with the sixth-ranked Patriots.

In the regular season, Gray-NG edged out the Raiders 1-0 in a pitchers’ duel.

“The team was anxious for a chance to hit against Allie Martell of Gray-NG,” Assistant Coach Chris Dutton said.

In a great atmosphere featuring a big turnout of fans from both teams, Fryeburg loaded the bases in the first inning with one out, but failed to get a run across.

The Raiders had another opportunity to open the scoring in the top of the fourth inning as Nicole Bennett ripped a double to start the inning. Megan Fuller ran for her and got to third with one out. Lexi L’Heureux-Carland would hit a come-backer to the pitcher, as she turned to make a fake throw to first and then as Fuller went to try and score from third Martell threw her out at home to end the threat.

In the fifth, the Raiders finally got yet another threat and took advantage of this opportunity. Hailey Hudson had an 11-pitch at bat, fouling off four pitches with two strikes, before reaching with a walk. Julia Quinn bunted and the Patriot’s third baseman made a throwing error to put runners at second and third with no outs. Makenzie Buzzell hit a line drive single to center to knock in both Hudson and Quinn for a 2-0 lead.

Pitcher Nicole Bennett was sharp yet again as Gray-NG managed only two base runners on through five frames.

Gray-NG, however, responded with a big sixth inning. With one out, Martell hit a fly ball that was misplayed by Buzzell. That seemed to wake up the Patriots. A drop at first on the next play enabled G-NG to cut the lead to 2-1. Then, Gray-NG recorded an infield hit to tie the game. With a runner at second, the Patriots saw a chance to take a lead erased when FA shortstop Kristen Chipman was interfered with trying to make a play.

Gray-NG had a great opportunity in the seventh as the leadoff hitter reached on an error. Bennett didn’t get rattled as she notched a strikeout and a sacrifice bunt went for a second out. Chipman caught a line drive to send the game to extra innings.

Fryeburg wasted no time striking as Lexi L’Heureux-Carland drilled an opposite field shot for a triple. Amanda Gillette hit another come-backer to the pitcher, as she tried the fake play to first to see if they could catch Fryeburg again with the runner off third base. It failed. With two outs, Kristina Hudson hit a hard grounder to third where the fielder had to backhand the ball, and then opted to throw home to try and nail L’Heureux-Carland for the third out. Lexi collided with Patriot catcher Maria Valente, dropped to the ground, and the ball popped out of her glove, allowing the Raiders to take a 3-2 lead.

Gray-NG wouldn’t go quietly in the eighth. After a hit to start the inning and two outs later with the runner on third, Hannah Dixon sent a deep ball to right, but Amanda Gillette played it beautifully for the catch to end the game.

Bennett scattered three hits and a walk-on with eight strikeouts on the hill. Buzzell would go 2-for-4 with the 2 RBI and Kristen Chipman was 3-for-4.



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