Published DateBy Charlie Tryder
FRYEBURG — The Fryeburg Academy softball team defeated Greely on Thursday at St. Joseph's College for their fifth straight Western Maine championship, but on Saturday in Brewer, the dream of a fourth state championship in five years did not materialize. The Raiders knocked off Greely 8-1 in the Western Finals, but they could not overcome a hot Old Town team who handed them a 4-1 defeat at Coffin Field in the state championship game.
Having earned their fifth straight state championship appearance, the Raiders headed to Brewer this Saturday to face an Old Town team. The Raiders drew first blood when Maggie McConkey drew a two out walk, the first free pass given by Old Town pitcher Kendra Hayward in four tournament starts. Harriman, swinging a hot bat, doubled to right center field to drive McConkey home for a 1-0 Raider lead.
The Coyotes came back in the third inning. Sarah Harriman hit Brittany Cousins. Meagan Cousins then dropped in a shallow one-out single to put runners at the corners. In a crucial moment in the game, Sam Milton hit a shallow fly ball to right field that glanced off the glove of second baseman Bri Pelkie as she extended to try and make a great catch. Right fielder Maddie Smith recovered the ball quickly and tried to make a play at the plate on Brittany Evans, who represented the tying run. Meagan Cousins had returned to first base anticipating a catch and she would have been an easy force play. When the dust settled, Hayward helped her cause but hitting a two-out, two-run double to deep left field and Old Town had a 3-1 lead over the Raiders.
The Raiders could not solve Hayward, who struck out 15 Raiders with outstanding control and movement. Fryeburg players talked about the strange movement that her pitches possessed. Harriman also pitched well, only allowing four Old Town hits. She struck out six with one walk.
After falling behind in the top of the third on Thursday against Greely, the Raiders roared back in the bottom of the inning with 8 runs. McConkey led off with a single to center, and Harriman then bunted down the first-base line. The throw to first was dropped. Not seeing anyone covering third, McConkey rounded second and kept moving. She scored on an errant throw to third to tie the game.
The inning did not end there, however. Kylie Locke reached on an error, and Bri Pelkie's bunt loaded the bases. Emily Davidson ripped a triple to right-center to clear the bases for a 4-1 lead.
Harriman, in her second at bat of the inning, drove in two more runs with a single. Harriman also pitched a complete game holding the Rangers to two hits.
When a team accumulates the number of state championships as the Raiders have, and when they complete one dramatic comeback win after another, it becomes easy to expect them to win. It becomes easy to forget how incredibly difficult it is to get to a state championship game. The amount of physical, mental, emotional energy necessary for the type of success this Raider team experienced this year and that the program has experienced over the past six years is hard to understand.
The level of commitment required for this sustained success is a testament to coach Fred Apt and his staff, and to the young women who have taken the lead and committed to the program. They know how many hours that they spent together as a team committed to their goal, so to come up short no doubt hurts, but they will carry a great season with them the rest of their lives. Most importantly, they will carry the work ethic, the commitment to team, and their commitment to self-improvement with them wherever they go.
Congratulations Fryeburg softball. To all of you, for another amazing season.