Time runs out on Panther’s upset bid

STRONG SHOWING IN SEASON FINALE — Coming off a 4-1 record in U-14 play in Bow, N.H. last year, the Maine Panthers moved up in age division to U-16 and found themselves in contention to reach the championship game on July 21. The team included: (left to right) Head Coach Wayne Rivet, Elle Burbank, Casey Heath, Kylie Martin, Kolby Woods, Savanna Morin, Brittany Perreault, Emily Whittemore, Kristen Chipman, Casey Simpson, KK Lorrain, Allison Morse, Ashley Clark and Assistant Coach Troy Morse. (Front) base running extraordinaire and bat girl, Maddie Morse. (Photo by Colleen Simpson)

STRONG SHOWING IN SEASON FINALE — Coming off a 4-1 record in U-14 play in Bow, N.H. last year, the Maine Panthers moved up in age division to U-16 and found themselves in contention to reach the championship game on July 21. The team included: (left to right) Head Coach Wayne Rivet, Elle Burbank, Casey Heath, Kylie Martin, Kolby Woods, Savanna Morin, Brittany Perreault, Emily Whittemore, Kristen Chipman, Casey Simpson, KK Lorrain, Allison Morse, Ashley Clark and Assistant Coach Troy Morse. (Front) base running extraordinaire and bat girl, Maddie Morse. (Photo by Colleen Simpson)

BOW, N.H. — Unlike most softball games, the Maine Panthers ran out of time, not outs in a bid to upset the top-ranked team at the Turn 2 Tournament Sunday.

After compiling a 2-1 record in pool play on Friday and Saturday in Bow, N.H. July 19-21, the Panthers 16-U team ended an 0-2 streak against the Maine Riptides with a 2-0 victory Sunday morning behind a six-hit, five strikeout effort from pitcher Kolby Woods.

The win propelled the Panthers into the third round of the single-elimination Sunday tourney to face top-seed New Hampshire Comets (Blue).

With a 90-minute time limit, the Panthers led 2-0 and 3-2 before giving up the lead in the sixth inning when the Comets plated three runs on two singles, an error and a triple.

Down 5-3, the Panthers stormed back to score three times as Casey Heath, Elle Burbank and Kristen Chipman all reached to start the comeback.

After surrendering a lead-off single, Panther reliever Kolby Woods struck out the next two Comets players. Although the host Comets trailed 6-5, they showed no urgency to keep the game going. Needing just one out to advance, the game clock sounded. By rule, the score reverted back to the previous complete inning, giving the Comets a 5-4 win.

“No question in my mind, we had a golden chance to win the entire tournament based on the way this team was playing,” Panther Coach Wayne Rivet said. “Our entire batting order was putting the ball in play; we were getting great pitching and defense; and our team enthusiasm was amazing.”

Despite the setback, the Panther coaching staff was impressed with how players handled the loss. Their good sportsmanship was noticed by others, as well.

“I had another coach and the umpiring crew tell me what a classy team I had. I couldn’t agree more. I felt we deserved to win the game, and more importantly, we walked away winners because of how we handled the situation,” Coach Rivet added. “The Comet coach told me as we shook hands after the game, ‘Coach, your team deserved to win.’ I simply responded, ‘Yes, we did.’ We were disappointed with the game’s outcome, but I couldn’t have been more proud of this team.”

The Comets lost in the finals to the Mystics, 9-6.

HERE COMES THE PITCH — Kolby Woods fires a pitch during Maine Panther travel softball play.

HERE COMES THE PITCH — Kolby Woods fires a pitch during Maine Panther travel softball play.

“We lost to the Mystics 4-1, mainly because we made two errors on one play which opened the door for them,” Coach Rivet said. “I know we certainly could play with them, and our girls certainly would have liked the chance to play them again.”

The Panthers included: Ashley Clark, Casey Heath and Brittany Perreault of Lake Region; Elle Burbank, Kristen Chipman and Allison Morse of Fryeburg Academy; Kylie Martin, Emily Whittemore and Kolby Woods of Poland; Casey Simpson of Cheverus; Savanna Morin of Oxford Hills; KK Lorrain and Maddie Morse of Lake Region Middle School.

Troy Morse was the assistant coach. Andy Clark served as general manager and scorekeeper. The Panthers also received help from Kristina Stevens.

Here’s how the tourney unfolded:

Panthers 3, Breakers 2: Kristen Chipman belted a RBI double and a RBI triple to score the game winner in the sixth inning as the Panthers edged the Breakers (Seabrook, N.H.) on Friday night.

Chipman earned the game’s MVP honor with the two deciding blasts to deep center and right fields.

Kolby Woods struck out nine, allowing just four hits (three of them bunt singles).

The Panthers collected five hits led by Chipman who went 2-for-3. Other players with hits were Casey Simpson, Casey Heath and Elle Burbank.

The defensive play of the game was a diving catch by Panther catcher Allison Morse in the fourth inning.

Mystics 4, Panthers 1: What looked like a promising effort turned sour for the Panthers as two miscues proved costly against the Mystics on Saturday.

Shortstop Casey Heath turned a double play on a roller up the middle, tagging second and gunning a Mystic hitter out at first to end the opening frame.

But, the Panther defense came unglued in the second. With two out, the Mystics rallied behind two base hits and a walk. With a run in, Coach Rivet elected to throw down to second on a steal attempt, but catcher Allison Morse’s high throw was slightly off target and sailed into the outfield. A return throw was also off the mark, enabling the Mystics to score two more runs.

The Panthers left seven players in scoring position, finally breaking through in the sixth as Kristen Chipman belted her second double of the game and scored on Kylie Martin’s base hit.

The Panthers had eight hits. Casey Simpson went 2-for-4, Chipman 2-for-3, Martin 2-for-3 and Emily Whittemore (who received the game’s MVP honor) roped a double.

Ashley Clark took the loss, relieved by Martin. Panther pitching allowed just five hits.

Panthers 13, Firebirds 7: Casey Heath (double) and Emily Whittemore each had three hits to spark a 15-hit attack as the Panthers rolled past the New England Firebirds.

The Panthers broke the game open with five runs in the fourth inning, keyed by an Allison Morse triple (she received the game’s MVP honor), and six runs in the fifth, triggered by a Brittany Perreault triple in the left-center gap and double by Heath.

Casey Simpson collected two hits in the lead-off spot and scored three times; Chipman went 2-for-4; Whittemore scored three times; Morse 2-for-4; Woods and Morin each had base hits.

Woods picked up the victory, relieved by Martin, who had three strikeouts.

Panthers 2, Riptide 0: Ranked eighth after pool play, the Panthers faced the Maine Riptide (#9) on elimination day Sunday. Having gone 0-2 against the Riptide in other tournament play, the Panthers were eager to gain a little revenge.

Kolby Woods continued to spin her magic against the Tide, allowing just one hit while striking out seven to lead the Panthers to a 2-0 victory. Woods pitched five scoreless frames against the Riptide in a Waterville tourney, and ran that streak to 12 innings with a gem. The Tide’s only hit came in the first inning on a solid shot up the middle with two out.

The Panthers wasted a good scoring chance in the first when Elle Burbank crushed a triple to right with two out, but was stranded.

In the second, the Panthers again threatened by getting consecutive singles from Emily Whittemore, Kylie Martin and Allison Morse. But, the Tide escaped trouble with an infield fly ball out, strikeout and fielder’s choice.

The Panthers finally broke through in the fourth inning on base hits by Whittemore, Morse, Woods and Simpson, along with a walk to Ashley Clark.

After retiring 18 straight including two strikeouts to start the seventh, Woods wiggled out of trouble after allowing a walk and seeing a fly ball to the outfield drop for an error by ending the game with her seventh strikeout.

Comets 5, Panthers 4: After seeing the Comets hammer the Extreme, the Panthers sent an early message that this game would be no cakewalk.

The Panthers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first when Casey Simpson singled and Kristen Chipman crushed a first pitch over the left fielder’s head for a home run.

The Comets tied the game with a run in the second and one in the third off Panther starter Kylie Martin.

Panther outfielder Brittany Perreault made an outstanding running catch, and nearly doubled up a Comet runner at first, making a long throw from the leftfield line in the third inning.

After leaving runners (Morse and Clark each singled with two out) at second and third in the fourth, the Panthers regained the lead in the fifth as Simpson beat out an infield hit and later scored on a Chipman single.

The Panthers added a run in the sixth as Clark singled with two out, and Woods belted a RBI double to left.

The Comets finally caught up with Martin, who had scattered five hits over five innings. Two hits and an error loaded the bases with no one out. Woods came on in relief, and was greeted with a three-run bomb on a 3-1 pitch by Comet pitcher Lily Rivera. The Panthers regrouped as Morse picked Rivera off third base, and Woods recorded a strikeout to end the inning.

Despite a valiant Panther comeback in the seventh, time ran out on Cinderella.

Please follow and like us: