Rollie Poirier’s Berlin High School Softball team had their season and bid for an appearance in the finals of the Division III NHIAA State Softball Tournament rudely interrupted and ended by Campbell High School, as they defeated the Mountaineers 7-0, last Thursday in Plymouth.
Berlin was 16-1 and Campbell 15-3, as they began semi-final action under the lights with perfect weather conditions at Chase Field.
Campbell scored a run in the first on a lead-off single, followed by a couple of errors and a stolen base. BHS and Pitcher Sam McCann settled down and ended any further damage with a called third strike, and two infield outs and trailed by a 1-0 score going into the bottom half of the first inning. Kayle Peare struck out, Jill Hallee was called out (U-2) when she made contact with the ball while outside the batter’s box and then McCann tripled to right center but wasn’t able to score as Jessica Vien worked the count from 0-2 to 2-2 before striking out the end the inning.
The second inning saw the Cougars struggle to catch up with McCann’s fastball, with lots of late swings, but the leadoff hitter in that inning did manage a base hit, followed by a swinging strikeout, a bunt fielded by Libby Picard, who promptly threw to Peare covering first and then Peare’s throw to Vien at the second base bag, nabbed the runner.
Three outs and no scoring.
Berlin went 1-2-3 in the bottom half with two flyouts centered around a strikeout.
We would all like to replay the top half of the third as Campbell scored five runs on four hits and a slew of mental and physical errors by the always fundamentally-sound Mountaineers.
The inning began with an infield error, followed by a ball that hit in front on home plate that was difficult to field in time to make a play, resulting in an infield hit — runners at first and third, no outs.
An infield out was recorded with a run scoring but then the bottom fell out for Berlin as they dropped a popup, were late on a throw to home, and then having the ball thrown into center field trying to get a runner going into the second base bag.
A double to right on another late swing followed, along with stolen bases, not reacting in covering a bag, two more singles, with a strikeout in there and finally an unassisted putout by Picard at first to end the nightmare.
Campbell had scored five runs to go up 6-0, before Berlin even had a chance to hit in the bottom of the third. That was a shock to all in attendance, especially anyone connected to Berlin.
Arianna Smith got things going the in third with an infield hit, Dallis Lacasse had a sacrifice bunt, Peare had a hard hit ball back to the pitcher, with Smith being aggressive on the base paths getting picked off.
Hallee doubled, so she and Peare were both in scoring position when McCann grounded to short to end the mini-threat.
Finally, Berlin settled down defensively in the fourth inning, when the first hitter was out, 6-3, followed by a beautiful backhand play by Peare on a hard hit ground ball for the second out and a popup to first to end it in a more normal fashion for Berlin.
After Vien grounded out, Allie Theriault hit a ball over the left fielder’s head for a double, Libby Picard had a great at-bat and worked a walk before Balderrama had a fielder’s choice, forcing Theriault at third. Smith struck out to end the threat.
Fifth inning action saw a walk to a Cougar, after an infield out, then Peare made another dazzling play at second to get the runner at first and a called third strike made short order of the No. 4 seed. Berlin did even less as the first two girls were out of first-pitch swings, one on a popup, the other on an infield out, followed by another infield out on a nice back-hand play by the third baseman.
Campbell led off the top of the sixth with a single, a stolen base and an advancement to third on an infield out and later scored the seventh and final run when a fake throw from the Berlin catcher slipped out of her hand and landed near the third base dugout, allowing the Campbell runner to score from third.
In the bottom of the sixth McCann had a line shot snagged on a nice catch by the shortstop, Vien had an infield hit but was stranded when an infield out and a popup ended things in that inning.
Two swinging strikes, a single and an 1-3 putout ended things quickly for Campbell and Berlin repeated the quick process of ending the game with an infield out, a swinging strike three and, even though Lacasse had a great at bat, pitcher Maddie Davis threw a wicked change-up that resulted in a called third strike to end the game.
This was a big game for both of these very talented teams, but that third inning spelled doom for the Mountaineers. Everything that could have gone wrong did and a team simply cannot make errors and give up unearned runs in the semi-finals of tournament play and expect to win. I am sure that nerves were a factor for Berlin and let’s not take anything away from Campbell, as they were a talented and tough team, with Davis certainly being on top of her game, mixing her pitches very well. McCann was too, as evidenced by so many late swings from the top to the bottom of the lineup. Once that third inning was over, Berlin High kept plugging but the spirit and enthusiasm was understandably not there. One bad inning spoiled the whole game for sure.
I suppose you could say it was a bitter-sweet moment as to lose like that was hard to handle but you can’t take away the success the Mountaineers experienced all season.
Division III softball was wide-open too, with lots of talented teams from No. 1 all the way to No. 9. No. 7 Hopkinton ended up upsetting No. 2 Mascenic in the quarterfinals, and then defeated No. 6 Belmont in the semi-finals, and finished off a great tournament run by defeating Campbell 2-0 in the finals, to win the Division III Title.
Poirier said, “It was a very disappointing game to end our season. It seems like everything that could go wrong did, especially in that third inning. But the girls accomplished a lot this season, including finishing first in Division III in the regular season and beating our long-time rivals, White Mountain Regional, twice. I had a lot of fun coaching this group and will certainly miss our six seniors: Jessica Vien, Dallis Lacasse, Allie Theriault, Sam McCann, Haily Knapp and Arianna Smith.”