High school softball

In annual classic playoff showdown, Panthers edge Mariners to advance

Latest chapter in storied diamond rivalry final act for Oceanside coach Rusty Worcester
By Mark Haskell | Jun 07, 2019
Photo by: Mark Haskell Medomak Valley players, including Lydia Simmons, middle, facing, celebrate a 2-0 Class B North quarterfinal playoff victory over No. 5 Oceanside on June 7 in Waldoboro.

Waldoboro — When two opponents know each other as well as No. 4 Medomak Valley and No. 5 Oceanside, one can throw the records and regular-season statistics out the window.

With a berth in the Class B North semifinals in the balance, the Panthers and Mariners, longtime diamond rivals, stood toe-to-toe in front of a large crowd in glorious late-spring weather on Friday afternoon, June 7 in what proved another nail-biting, down-to-the-final-out quarterfinal contest.

Medomak Valley coach Richard Vannah said it best: “Usually it’s the first team to blink.”

The Mariners blinked in the bottom of the fourth inning as the Panthers pushed a pair of runs across the plate, which was all the hosts needed as Medomak Valley picked up a 2-0 win in a diamond battle of the Midcoast’s two premier high school softball squads.

Watch video and see more photos below.

With the win, Medomak Valley (16-2) advances to the semifinals, where it plays at No. 1 Brewer (15-2) on Saturday, June 8 at noon. The Panthers and Witches did not face each other during the regular season. Brewer beat No. 9 Erskine Academy of South China 7-2 in the quarterfinals.

Oceanside, which defeated No. 12 Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield in a prelim playoff, saw its season wrap at 14-4.

“It was a great win for the girls,” said Vannah. “They do the little things so well, and I just love this team.”

The game, moved back a day due to unplayable field conditions on Thursday, June 6, also marked the final one in the storied, highly-successful, two-decade career for Oceanside coach Rusty Worcester, who led Oceanside to a state Class B championship in 2013 and the former Georges Valley of Thomaston to state Class C crowns in 2007 and 2008.

Friday marked the fourth year in a row Oceanside and Medomak Valley squared off in the regional quarterfinals, with Friday’s win tying that recent playoff series 2-2 and gave the Panthers the “series” win over the Mariners in 2019 in two of three overall games.

In those four recent playoff games, Oceanside holds an 8-7 edge in runs — that is how close the area neighbors have been.

“We blinked first in the first game and last year it was the same thing [where] they beat us 3-0 twice,” said Vannah. “It was just our turn [today].”

After giving up seven runs to Oceanside in its first six innings of the season, the Panthers held the Mariners scoreless over their last two games and 15 innings overall.

Leading Medomak Valley at the plate on Friday were Addie Jameson (single, run), Lydia Simmons (2 singles, run) and Stephanie Morse (2 RBIs).

For Oceanside, Raechel Joyce and Grace Pratt singled.

Jameson, one game removed from firing a no-hitter in the Panthers’ 15-0 prelim playoff win over No. 13 Presque Isle, followed that outing with a two-hit shutout as she yielded five walks and fanned five against the Mariners.

Chloe Jones, who signed her national letter of intent to play softball next year at American International College in Springfield, Mass., also had a terrific outing in the pitching circle for the visitors as she allowed three hits and three walks to go along with nine strikeouts.

“Chloe is one hell of a pitcher,” said Vannah. “She had 188 strikeouts on the year and she’s going to do awesome in college.”

On Friday, Jameson and Jones were entrenched in a pitching duel from the early going. Both defenses were solid behind them and neither allowed a runner to pass second base, until Medomak Valley came through with the only two runs of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Jameson reached on an infield single, while Simmons followed by slapping a base hit through the left side of the infield to put two runners on base. After a strikeout, Wotton drew a walk to load the bases.

That set the stage for Morse, who connected on a shot to right field that flew in and then bounced out of a Mariner outfielder’s glove that allowed Jameson and Simmons to cross the plate.

“When you get to this level of the season, it comes down to whoever makes the mistake is the team that gets burned,” said Worcester. “We try to prevent that, but stuff happens. We just couldn’t seem to get that crucial hit at the crucial time.”

Oceanside had its chances to draw even as it left seven runners on base, including three in the fifth and two in the sixth inning.

But, ultimately, the Mariners could not come through with a timely, late-game hit to extend the contest.

“It’s that one hit you’re trying to get to get everything rolling,” said Worcester. “And if you don’t get that, then, sometimes you get bogged down.”

Medomak Valley left four runners on base on the afternoon.

Now, the Panthers have less than 24 hours to prepare for Saturday’s game against the Witches. Vannah said he did not know much about Brewer, “But I’m going to make a lot of phone calls tonight.”

“I know the whole lineup can hit and their pitcher is hittable,” Vannah said. We’ve just got to put a bat on the ball.”

Oceanside faced Brewer once this season, as the Mariners dropped that contest 10-4 on April 25 in Brewer.

“They’re going to be facing a team that one to nine can hit,” said Worcester of the Witches. "She [Jameson] is going to have to keep them off-balanced with her change-up because if she doesn’t, those Brewer girls can rake. It should be a great game. They have a real good team. Probably one of the better teams I’ve seen Medomak [Valley] have over the years.”

In the three previous quarterfinal meetings between the Midcoast athletic rivals, No. 3 Oceanside beat No. 6 Medomak Valley 3-0 in 2018, No. 4 Oceanside beat No. 5 Medomak Valley 2-1 in eight innings in 2017 and No. 7 Medomak Valley beat No. 2 Oceanside 4-3 in 2016.

Oceanside at Medomak Valley softball
Medomak Valley hosts Oceanside on June 7 in high school softball in Waldoboro. (Video by: Zack Miller)
Medomak Valley's Cassi Smeltzer. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Oceanside's Chloe Jones. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Oceanside's Grace Pratt. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Oceanside's Abby Veilleux. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Oceanside's Abby Veilleux. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Emily Wotton. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Cassi Smeltzer. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Cassi Smeltzer. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Cassi Smeltzer. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Oceanside's Raechel Joyce. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
From left, Oceanside's Grace Pratt, Chloe Jones, Kalli Grover and Jessica Watkinson. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Natalie Stewart, left, and Oceanside's Jessica Watkinson. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Natalie Stewart, left, and Oceanside's Jessica Watkinson. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Natalie Stewart, left, and Oceanside's Jessica Watkinson. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Oceanside's Abby Veilleux, back, and Jessica Watkinson. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
From left, Medomak Valley's Natalie Stewart, Cassi Smeltzer, Lydia Simmons and Addie Jameson. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Natalie Stewart, front, and Emily Wotton. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Emily Wotton. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Emily Wotton. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Emily Wotton. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Emily Wotton. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Natalie Stewart. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Natalie Stewart. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Emily Wotton. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Emily Wotton. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Emily Wotton. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Addie Jameson. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Oceanside's Raechel Joyce. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Oceanside's Kalli Grover, front, and Medomak Valley's Lydia Simmons. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Oceanside's Kalli Grover, right, and Medomak Valley's Lydia Simmons. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Addie Jameson. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Stephanie Morse. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Emily Wotton. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Stephanie Morse. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Stephanie Morse. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Stephanie Morse. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Stephanie Morse. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Stephanie Morse. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Stephanie Morse. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Stephanie Morse. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Lydia Simmons, left, and Oceanside's Lilly Judecki. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Oceanside coach Rusty Worcester. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Lydia Simmons. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Lydia Simmons, left, and Oceanside's Autumn Harvey. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Lydia Simmons, right, and Oceanside's Autumn Harvey. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Stephanie Morse. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Oceanside's Abby Veilleux, front, and Medomak Valley's Kayla Donlin. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Oceanside's Abby Veilleux. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Natalie Stewart. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Natalie Stewart. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Natalie Stewart. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Oceanside's Raechel Joyce. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Oceanside's Raechel Joyce, left, and Medomak Valley's Mackenzie Emerson. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Oceanside's Raechel Joyce, left, and Medomak Valley's Mackenzie Emerson. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Oceanside's Raechel Joyce, back, and Medomak Valley's Mackenzie Emerson. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Mackenzie Emerson, left, and Oceanside's Raechel Joyce, middle, and Jessica Watkinson. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Addie Jameson. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Addie Jameson. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Addie Jameson. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Cassi Smeltzer, left, and Emily Wotton, right, as well as Oceanside's Raechel Joyce. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Oceanside's Chloe Jones, left, and Abby Veilleux, front. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Oceanside's Abby Veilleux. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Cassi Smeltzer, left, and Emily Wotton, right, as well as Oceanside's Raechel Joyce. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Emily Wotton. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Emily Wotton. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Emily Wotton. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Emily Wotton, left, and Cassi Smeltzer. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
From left, Medomak Valley's Cassi Smeltzer, Natalie Stewart, Addie Jameson, Emily Wotton and Lydia Simmons. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Natalie Stewart, Addie Jameson and Lydia Simmons. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
From left, Medomak Valley's Addie Jameson, Natalie Stewart, Eliza Nelson, Lydia Simmons and Kayla Donlin, among others. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
From left, Medomak Valley's Eliza Nelson, Addie Jameson, Hattie Watmough, Emily Wotton and Lydia Simmons. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Lydia Simmons, front, and Kayla Donlin. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Medomak Valley's Addie Jameson, middle, Lydia Simmons and Emily Wotton, among others. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
From left, Medomak Valley's Emily Wotton, Addie Jameson, Lydia Simmons and Kayla Donlin. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
From left, Medomak Valley's Emily Wotton, Addie Jameson, Lydia Simmons and Kayla Donlin. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
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