STANDISH – The pain was in her knee, the reward was in the victory, and the proof was in her beaming smile.

Ask Heather Tripp about enduring last year’s knee injury, her comeback and a second straight Western B title, her bright grin is all you need to see.

“I know I worked really hard, and this team is really great,” said Tripp, Fryeburg Academy’s senior catcher. “The reward is really good.”

One year ago, Tripp was battling a knee injury. She endured the pain as her Raiders won the Class B state championship.

“I had to take my time getting out of my stance,” recalls Tripp. “It was a total team effort. So I knew it would pay off if I worked through that little bit of pain.”

Tripp hurt her knee in a collision at the plate against Freeport midway through last season. She had five slight tears in her ACL and would need repairs to her meniscus.

Yet she played on.

The day before the regional final, she tweaked her knee just right during a run-down drill. She planted her foot wrong and made it worse.

She played against Cape Elizabeth in the Western B final and was crucial in the come-from-behind win over Medomak Valley in the state game. She had two hits, including a three-run double in the seventh that broke a 2-2 tie.

In September, she had knee surgery and began the road back to her final season. That journey ends Saturday at Ward Field at 11 a.m. when the Raiders have a rematch with the Panthers.

“I worked really hard,” said Tripp. “I knew it was going to take a lot to be where I left off last year. By the time the preseason came, I knew I was ready.”

“She welcomes any challenge,” said Fryeburg coach Fred Apt. “The injury, it’s like it’s not there anymore. She’s really stepped up even another notch. It’s almost impossible to believe that she could do that.”

Tripp is among a strong contingent of seniors that have led the Raiders (18-1) back to the state game. Pitcher Hannah Hill, shortstop Ellen Head, first baseman Desiree Ramsay and third baseman Tanya Randall combine to make a veteran infield for the Raiders.

“The catcher is always the position people don’t think about especially when you have a pitcher like Hannah,” said Apt. “But Heather does a great job of just knowing what to call. Like (Wednesday), I spaced out and missed two pitches that she called. She fills the role for me well.”

Apt says Tripp is a quiet but forceful leader by her example and the Raiders have been following their catcher’s stellar play in the postseason.

Tripp had three hits and three RBI in the 7-1 win over Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals last Saturday. She followed that up with the crushing blow Wednesday against Gray-New Gloucester. She doubled and drove in a pair to turn a 1-1 game into a 3-1 advantage in a 6-2 win. Tripp also had a single.

“I definitely know that I have to play in the here and now and not worry about what could happen or might happen,” said Tripp. “I have to just go with the moment.”


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