By James Anderson
FRYEBURG — The Fryeburg Academy softball team advanced to the Regional Finals with an 11-4 victory over Cape Elizabeth at Legion Field on Saturday behind the pitching of Emelia DeSanctis and hitting of Tina LeBlanc.
The No. 2 seeded Raiders (15-3) will meet No. 1 York in the Class B South Regional Final at St. Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine, on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The winner will advance to the Class B State Championship, which is set for this Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at St. Joseph’s College.
In the Class B North Regional Final, No.1 Brewer is scheduled to play No. 3 Hermon on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Brewer High School in Brewer, Maine.
Saturday’s game started off well good for Cape (15-3) when power hitter Jess Robicheaw hit a two-run blast over the center-field barrier. It was DeSanctis who came out a little wild in the strike zone and left her pitch out over the middle of the plate and the Cape hitter did not miss it.
As the Capers celebrated at home plate a hush fell over the stands. Fryeburg catcher Morgan Fusco, who seems to be like a coach on the field, reminded DeSanctis that she lives on the edges and up out of the strike zone. She made the adjustment, and the cape hitters began to chase and get frustrated.
Cape scored another in the top of the second and one more in the fourth frame when Coach Joey Hendrickson relied on a suicide-squeeze to get a run home. After that, DeSanctis put the lid on the Cape offense.
Meanwhile, the Raider offense was about to get cranked up behind the strength of their big hitters. The Raiders scored twice in the second, and again in the third to knot the game at 3-3.
After the Capers scored on the squeeze to take a 4-3 lead, the Raiders broke the contest wide open with a five-run outburst in the bottom of the fourth to take an 8-4 lead, a lead it never relinquished.
Every time the Raiders flipped the order back to the top, they seemed to score, with Morgan Fusco and Camden Jones sporting half pony braids and half-ponytails, they got on base for LeBlanc, who had a single power pony braid, drove them in. LeBlanc had an RBI double and an RBI triple in the early going and saved the big blast for the sixth. With two runners on base and first base open, LeBlanc was up.
The knowledgable fans sitting at Legion Field started buzzing, that Hendrickson will walk LeBlanc, but no, he decided to let her hit.
The first pitch to LeBlanc must have brought a big smile to her face — it was right down the middle of the strike zone. Bang! LeBlanc hit that pitch right in the teeth. In fact, you may have seen the ball spit out a front tooth, as it sailed over the centerfield fence. If a bowler saw that ball today they would explain it’s smile as looking like a 7-10 split.
The three-run homer put the game out of reach, ensuring the Raiders a chance to play in the Regional Finals. They say that greatness is making the difficult look easy. Well, it is difficult to hit home runs, and Christina sure makes it look easy.
Kayrin Johnson had a trifecta on the day, First singing a beautiful rendition of the national anthem. Secondly, she had two hits, and finally, she assisted on the final put-out, to seal the Raider victory.
York and Fryeburg met twice during the regular season with the Wildcats winning both games. The first encounter was a 7-1 win in York on April 24. The Wildcats won a much closer game, 4-3, in Fryeburg on May 29.
They say it’s awfully difficult to beat a good team three times in a season — this group of Raiders will be out to prove that statement is true and hope that the third time really is the charm on Tuesday night.