FRYEBURG — The Fryeburg Academy softball team is two wins away from a state championship.
The Raiders, under the direction of Coach Fred Apt, have won each of its first three playoff games, all at home, in impressive fashion. Fryeburg, the No. 1 seed in the South, topped No. 16 Yarmouth 18-2 in the first round on June 8; then handled No. 8 Gardiner 7-1 on Thursday in the quarterfinals; and beat No. 5 Gray-New Gloucester 6-3 in the semifinals on Saturday.
The Raiders are scheduled to play No. 2 Cape Elizabeth in the Regional Finals at St. Joseph’s College in Standish, Maine, on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.
In the North Regional Finals, No. 3 Nokomis is slated to play No. 8 Winslow at Brewer High School in Brewer, Maine, at 3 p.m., also on Wednesday.
The championship game is slated for this Saturday.
Cape Elizabeth (15-0) and Fryeburg did not meet during the regular season.
The Capers’ path to the Regional Finals included a 22-0 win over No. 15 Freeport on June 8, followed by a 13-2 victory over No. 7 Poland in the quarterfinals; and edged No. 6 Medomak Valley 1-0 in the semifinals with the winning run scoring with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning on Saturday. All three wins were at home.
Fryeburg, which beat Gray (14-5) three times during the regular season, took the lead in the bottom of the third inning with a pair of runs. The Raiders put runners on second and third with two outs, and Ella Bruno, who has thrived when the pressure is the greatest filled this destiny moment with a clutch two-run single, much to the delight of the Fryeburg faithful. Bruno went 2-3 at the plate in the contest.
The Patriots were able to get back on level terms with runs in the top of the fourth and fifth frames, but FA responded with three runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a commanding 5-2 lead.
Camden Jones led off and she hit one very high, very far and gone to left field. It was her longest home run of the season. Her exit velocity had to be over 100 mph. It was a blast that said to the Patriots you may have tied the game, but we are the dominant team. The impact was significant.
Jones’ blast brought the Fryeburg bench to life. Kayrin Johnson got on first then used her speed to steal second and eventually scored on an Emelia DeSanctis sacrifice fly.
The Raiders tacked on a run in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI single by Jones, who was 3-4 with two runs scored on the afternoon, while Gray closed out the scoring with a run in the top of the seventh inning.
DeSanctis on the mound and the defense behind her were rock solid. With DeSanctis nibbling on the outside corner to right-handed batters, the right side of the Raider defense was tested. Brooke Emery, at first base, made an outstanding line drive catch on one Gray hitter, and Johnson, at second, made a running catch on an infield pop out. Bruno, and Katy McIntyre both made running catches in the outfield.
DeSanctis pitched a nine-hitter with five strikeouts to collect the win, while Madison Pelletier gave up eight hits and struck out 11 Raiders for Gray.
In the quarterfinals against Gardiner, things were tense the opening three innings as the game remained scoreless. Things changed in the bottom of the fourth inning when five Raiders crossed home plate. Fryeburg strung together three consecutive hits with back-to-back doubles by Morgan Fusco and McIntyre and then a base hit by Bruno. Later in the inning, Madison Griffin tripled home another run.
The Raiders added two more runs in the fifth inning with McIntyre and Bruno collecting RBI.
DeSanctis tossed a four-hitter while striking out six in her return to the playing field after being sidelined for 10 days due to injury.
These Raiders are on a mission and are two strong performances away from mission accomplished.