Oceanside nails down school's first state championshipMariners rally late to sail past Greely for Class B softball crown
Standish — History makers and they did it by improving each day of the season and having each other's backs every step of the way.
And after it began several months ago in the coldest days of spring, the glorious journey ended Saturday afternoon, June 15 with a golden prize to hoist high above their heads.
That was the scenario that played out for the Oceanside High School softball team before the campaign culminated Saturday with the Mariners capturing the state Class B championship with an impressive 8-1 victory over Greely of Cumberland on Richard W. Bailey Field at St. Joseph's College.
See video below.
The game, a pitchers' duel, was tense and tight throughout before the floodgates opened for the Mariners in the late innings. Oceanside played flawless defense in the victory.
Thus, the Mariners, in only their second year of existence, are the queens of the diamond world and the softball squad is the first athletic team in Oceanside's two-year existence to capture a state crown.
There was reception for the team at the school later in the afternoon and a motorcade through the Midcoast to welcome the team back to the area.
Interestingly, the Mariners were brought to and from the game in Standish by bus driver Bobby Watts who was taking his final ride after 45 years of driving buses — a fitting state championship ride.
Oceanside was ranked third in Eastern Class B before winning four straight games to capture the state crown. The Mariners also won the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B title this season under the guidance of coaches Rusty Worcester and John Frye.
The Mariners include Brooke Dugan, Rachel Frye, Abby Hersom, Kennadi Grover, Molly Mellor, Hannah Plourde, Ari Curtis, Emma Davis, Maggie Drinkwater, Brianna Dugan, Trittany Penn, Paige Tyler, Caitlin Raye, Kalyn Grover, Zoey Proctor and Alexis Davis. The Dugans and Grovers are sisters. Mike McGuire and Rachel Campbell are jayvee/bench coaches.
Oceanside has a relatively young team, which is bad news for future foes, with underclassmen playing significant roles on the state title team, while Kennadi Grover, Emma Davis, Frye, Mellor and Plourde are the senior mainstays.
The Mariners lost only one game all season by one run — a 2-1 defeat to Gardiner May 17 in Thomaston.
No. 3 Oceanside (20-1 overall) defeated the top-seeded Tigers 11-4 in the regional final June 13 in Brewer. Greely (15-5), ranked fourth in the Western Class B tournament, edged Gray-New Gloucester 2-1 in its regional title game June 13.
Earlier in the Eastern Class B playoffs, Oceanside defeated No. 6 Washington Academy of East Machias 1-0 in the quarterfinals and No. 2 Old Town 5-2 in the semifinals.
Earlier in the Western Class B playoffs, Greely defeated No. 12 Yarmouth 9-3 in the quarterfinals and knocked off No. 1 Fryeburg Academy 2-1 in the semifinals.
After losing in the semifinals last year, Oceanside played for its first regional and state softball titles this spring in only the school's second year of existence.
“This is awesome,” said Oceanside athletic director Jim Leonard. “What these girls have done over the course of the year [is amazing]. This is not the same team that started the softball season. They've grown each week, they've come together [and] the school has come together around them. Look around here [and] we have recently graduated seniors, we have girls that graduated last year, we have a good section of the community here to support this team on a Saturday after school's out. This is amazing. This is what it's all about.”
Of note: Mariner coaches Worcester and Frye previously led the former GVHS to two state Class C titles and several Western Class C championships before moving over to Oceanside, the combination of the former Rockland District and Georges Valley High schools.
In two years, the Mariners have a 36-4 overall record, have played for two league titles (winning one), have captured an Eastern Class B crown and the school's first state championship — in any sport.
This year, in 21 games, Oceanside outscored opponents 190-42 — including notching seven shutouts.
In the postseason, Oceanside beat Gardiner 4-0 in the KVAC championship game and then squeezed out a tough 1-0 win over Washington Academy in the first game of the regional tourney. That tight victory seemed to awaken the team's bats as the Mariners scored 24 runs over their final three postseason games.
State game summary
The Mariners capitalized on two costly Ranger errors in the sixth inning and scored nearly at will over the final two frames to sails to an 8-1 victory and the first state championship in the two-year history of the school.
“It is a wonderful thing,” said Worcester of the state title win. “Watching these girls develop through the year and to be able to put everything together as a team and as a family [has been very special]. They're really close-knit. I'd have to say over the years they're probably the closest team-wise that I've had. They help each other, they back each other up [and] they never give up on each other.”
Frye pitched for the Mariners, allowing four hits and four walks, while striking out three. Danielle Cimino worked the circle for Greely, allowing six hits and one walk, with eight strikeouts.
Leading the newly-crowned state champs at the plate were Brooke Dugan (single, run, stolen base, 2 RBIs), Frye (single), Hersom (stolen base, run), Kennadi Grover (single, 2 runs, stolen base, 2 RBIs), Mellor (single, stolen base), Plourde (2 singles, run, stolen base), Raye (stolen base, run) and Emma Davis (2 runs).
Leading the offense for the Rangers were Elyse Dinan (double), Haley Felkel (single), Miranda Moore (single, run) and Aubrey Mann (single).
“It feels unbelievable,” said Emma Davis. “When we first all came together I would have never expected this, but I had so much faith in my team and we won it all.”
“It's the best feeling I've ever had in my life,” said Grover, a senior who singled in her final high school at-bat. “It's just so awesome. I never thought we would have got this far.”
“There are just no words to describe it,” said Brooke Dugan. “This is so awesome.”
The game was a pitchers' duel between Frye and Cimino through the first five frames, with Greely plating a run in the bottom of the second inning when Moore singled, followed by Charlotte Benoit drawing a walk and Mann scoring Moore with an RBI-single to center field.
However, two costly errors by the Rangers put Oceanside not only back in the game — but also gave it a lead it would not relinquish.
Emma Davis reached on an error when the ball was misplayed by Mykaela Twitchell at first base. The ball rolled up the right-field line, allowing Emma Davis to reach third base to lead the top of the sixth inning. Frye then reached on a bunt single and made it to second base with the infield drawn in to keep Davis from coming home.
That set the scene for Kennadi Grover, who hit the ball to right field, which was misplayed by Benoit, allowing Davis and Hersom, who pinch ran for Frye, to score.
Kennadi Grover ended at third base and came into score on a ground out by Mellor, which put the Mariners ahead 3-1.
“We want to attack, attack, attack,” said Worcester. “And when we see a slight opening like that we want to put the pressure on.”
Did they ever.
Emma Davis, who started the sixth-inning rally in the top of the frame, retired all three Ranger batters at second base in the bottom of the inning on two pop-ups and a groundout.
“I didn't want to let my teammates down,” said Emma Davis.
The Mariners continued to attack in the seventh stanza when they plated five runs.
In the frame, Plourde reached on a one-out single, followed by Raye being hit by a pitch, which put two runners on base. Penn pinch ran for Raye.
Both runners moved up on a wild pitch, followed by Emma Davis drawing a walk to load the bases.
Brooke Dugan then belted a two-run single into shallow center field and Kennadi Grover followed suit with a two-run single to put the Mariners ahead 7-1.
Mellor then connected on the first pitch of her at-bat to plate Grover, which gave the Mariners another run.
Greely committed three errors on the day, while Oceanside played seven innings of errorless ball en route to the state crown.
Now all 16 players and all four coaches can say, without a doubt, they were the first.
“That's what we'd been talking about,” said Worcester. “I told them, 'No matter how many Oceanside wins long after I'm gone and you guys are gone, we won the first state title ever at Oceanside High School.' And it's a wonderful feeling.”