Freeport’s Abbye Koenig gets ready to tag out a sliding Mikaela Ryan of Gray-New Gloucester at third base druing the second inning of Friday’s game. Nathan Tsukroff photo

GRAY — Friday’s Western Maine Conference softball game was an important one with playoff implications.

Freeport knew it. Gray-New Gloucester knew it.

The heightened sense of awareness of where each other stood in the Heal points standings with so few games remaining might have played a role in the outcome, as did some calls and some bounces.

Everything seemed to go Gray-New Gloucester’s way in a 12-0, six-inning victory.

“You know, this was a big game for us, and the (players) knew it, my pitcher knew it. She felt like she was getting the strikes and (the umpire) wasn’t giving them to her, and so the frustration level went real high with her,” Freeport coach Jason Daniel said. “And, you know, we make some good plays in the field, we have some bad plays in the field. We just got to be above that and move forward, and try to hustle back and just get the runs.”

Before the strike zone could get to Falcons (5-9-1) starter Alexa Koenig, the Patriots (6-7) bats did.

Alexa Thayer led off the bottom of the first with the first of her four singles in the game. Mikaela Ryan was hit by a pitch, then Amelia Chase moved them both over with a sacrifice bunt. Lydia Espling singled in one run, then two batters later an error on Madison Pelletier’s grounder scored two more.

“It was very comforting to see that right away, that we didn’t have to take an inning or two to kind of get on it,” Patriots coach Amanda Harmon said, “that we just came out with that little intensity, that little fire, to bring it right away.”

Pelletier, Gray-New Gloucester’s starter, worked out of a rare jam in the top of the second, picking up back-to-back strikeouts with runners on first and second after an error and a failed fielder’s choice.

“It was nice to have (that strikeout pitch),” Harmon said.

The walks first started to rear their ugly heads for Koenig and the Falcons in the bottom of the second.

Two of them (both on 3-2 pitches), sandwiched a one-out single by Thayer, helped load the bases, and then Chase singled in two runs. Ryan was tagged out at third on the play for the second out, then Espling grounded out to second.

Except the Patriots questioned the call at first, and it was overturned, with the umpires saying the first baseman’s foot came off the bag.

Gray-New Gloucester’s Amelia Cobb connects on a bunt to reach first base in the bottom of the first inning Friday. Nathan Tsukroff photo

That gave the Patriots new life. They took advantage of it, as an error on Isabelle Brindley’s pop-up scored two more runs to make it 7-0.

Thayer singled again in the third, and Ryan followed by reaching on a fielder’s choice. Both scored on wild pitches to make it 9-0. But the Patriots didn’t take full advantage of three more walks.

Daniel went out to talk with Koenig after one of the walks, and the senior seemed to settle down after issuing another walk to the next batter. She threw two hitless — and walkless — innings after that and worked around two errors.

“You know, we had to talk a few minutes, and then she just pushed back. I mean, look at from the fourth inning on, she had some good innings there,” Daniel said.

Koenig led off the next inning and used her bat to take her frustrations out on the ball, hitting a loud single to the outfield. But she was doubled up on the next play, then Pelletier fielded a grounder and fired to first in time for the third out.

The only other hit Pelletier gave up came in the fifth, a single by freshman Jaclyn Burke. It came right after Samantha Lacasse drew Pelletier’s only walk, and both runners made it into scoring position but a strikeout and a tag out at home ended the Falcons’ final threat.

Espling drew a walk to start the game-ending sixth for the Patriots. An error and a Pelletier single (which came after she took a liner to her leg in the top-half of the inning) scored one run. Kayleigh Chase was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to score another, and Thayer singled up the middle to drive in the 12th and final run.

Mikaela Ryan of Gray-New Gloucester slides into third base in the second inning of Friday’s game. Ryan was tagged out by Abbye Koenig of Freeport. Nathan Tsukroff photo

“I mean, these guys are a good team, but we’re just as good as them,” Daniel said. “We’re a good team, and we should have been a little more competitive today, but things fell the other way.”

The Falcons entered the game in final Class B South playoff position, a little more than one point ahead of the Patriots. Harmon said she talked to her players Thursday about the “do-or-die sort of situation” they found themselves in, and said, “What do you guys want to do?”

“Then the girls, as a team earlier (Friday), had their own little talk and kind of came out with some extra energy and some extra attitude of wanting it, which was great,” Harmon said.

Daniel said “we’ll see what happens Tuesday,” when his team ends the regular season at home against Yarmouth.


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