Mariners rally, double up Ponies in prelim playoffDefending state Class B champs advance to quarterfinals against Nokomis
Thomaston — There were a lot of smiles on the faces of the No. 5 Oceanside softball team's players in the sixth inning of the Eastern Class B high school prelim playoff game with No. 12 Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft on Tuesday afternoon, June 10.
Maybe it was the fact the rain in the forecast had not hit the field. Or that four seniors would be graduating in a few short hours.
Or, it was that the Mariners, who were blanked through the first three innings, had gotten their groove back.
Down 3-0 after three full frames, the defending state Class B champions rallied for six unanswered runs and knocked the upset-minded Ponies out of the postseason with a 6-3 victory.
Oceanside (12-5) now will play at No. 4 Nokomis of Newport (16-1), which beat No. 13 Belfast (5-12) 13-1 in five innings in the prelims, on Thursday, June 12 at 4 p.m. in the quarterfinals.
The Mariners do not play the Ponies during the regular season, however, Oceanside split with Belfast, winning 5-0 and losing 13-3. The Mariners also lost to Nokomis 11-2 in a regular-season affair.
“The confidence is finally coming to these girls,” said Oceanside coach Rusty Worcester. “They can play. They can play with anybody and when they do what they can do they can play with anybody in the state.”
Leading the Mariners at the plate in Tuesday's playoff were Trittany Penn (triple, run, 2 RBIs), Ari Curtis (double, 2 singles, RBI, run), Kalyn Grover (single, run), Paige Tyler (triple, run, RBI), Alexis Mazurek (run, 2 RBIs), Alexis Davis (2 singles, run) and Brianna Dugan (single).
For the Ponies, Elizabeth Richard (single, 2 runs) and Gabby Johnson (double, 2 RBIs) paced the offense.
The Ponies' two hits came through the first three innings as the visitors did not got a hit through their final 17 at-bats.
“We came down, [we] played a good game and I was happy with how they played,” said Foxcroft Academy coach Scott Anderson. “[We were] a couple clicks away. We left the bases loaded twice, I think. We left too many runners on and that's been the story for us all year.”
Davis pitched a two-hitter for the hosts as she allowed six walks, while fanning six batters. Brittany Adkins and Richard pitched for the Ponies, scattering nine hits and eight walks, with two strikeouts.
The Ponies got on the board first as Davis walked the first two batters of the game in Kelsey Savage and Richard. Both came in to score later in the frame on a two-run double by Johnson, while Richard singled in the third and later scampered home on a wild pitch.
Then the Mariner rally began.
Mazurek drew a walk to start the bottom of the fourth stanza followed by a single by Davis.
After Brianna Dugan sacrificed both runners into scoring position, Penn tattooed the first pitch she saw over the right fielder's head for a two-run triple. Penn later scored on an RBI-single by Curtis to tie the game.
“We were down obviously and I had to do what I had to do and that was to get us tied,” said Penn, one of four seniors on the team. “I was up there and I just said, 'I got it.' You've got to have that attitude.”
Tyler plated Grover with an RBI-triple of her own in the fifth inning, while Mazurek plated both Tyler and Curtis in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively, with a pair of sacrifice flies.
Brooke Dugan, another Mariner senior and the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B player of the year, said through the first three innings Tuesday, the Mariners were not matching the Ponies' enthusiasm.
That changed in the fourth.
“I think we let that get to us [early],” she said. “But once Lexi started striking them out, throwing some heat and we started making plays, everyone was up and ready.”
“We came out a little flat,” said Worcester. “Alexis had a little struggle [early] with her pitching and it can be contagious. So it was good to see them pick it up in the fourth inning and come alive.”
Also contagious can be hits, which came in droves for the Mariners from the fourth inning on, where they belted seven, including two triples, the first of which by Penn triggered the comeback.
“When you get a big hit like that, it gets everybody rolling,” said Worcester, the league's Class B coach of the yera. “This team can hit much better than we showed today, but the key is you just never give up and hopefully you can do enough to move on.”