GORHAM — Twenty minutes after coming home for the winning run, Corinne Vasvary was still shaking.

The sophomore had tears in her eyes as she hugged everyone in sight, including parents Amanda and Louis, after the Gardiner softball team’s 10-9 victory over Winslow in the Class B championship game Saturday.

“It’s unbelievable; like, that’s not something you ever think is going to happen to you,” Vasvary said. “This core group of girls has been together since we were 8 years old, and we’ve been dreaming this forever, but for it to happen like this is just so crazy.”

From the first pitch of the season to the championship-sized celebration at home plate, Gardiner just couldn’t be shook by anything thrown its way in 2022. The end product was the Tigers’ first state championship in 42 years, one in which a Gardiner team with a flair for the dramatic won in possibly the most climactic manner of all.

Vasvary scored on a passed ball in the bottom of the seventh inning to give Gardiner a one-run win over Winslow at the University of Southern Maine. The victory came in comeback fashion, as the Tigers trailed by four runs entering the bottom of the sixth inning before mounting a rally to tie the game and winning it one frame later.

Winslow (13-8) went up 2-0 in the top of the first with Leah Knight (leadoff triple) scoring on a passed ball and Kate Nichols (walk) scoring on an Emma Michaud single. The second inning belonged to Gardiner’s Taylor Takatsu, who snagged a scorching liner out of the air in the top of the frame before homering to cut the deficit to 2-1 in the bottom half.


“I’m not going to lie: We felt some pressure, and it showed early,” Gardiner head coach Ryan Gero said. “When they went right out in the first inning and scored two runs, we were like, ‘Oh, they’re here, and they want this.’ We knew it was going to be a battle.”

Gardiner (19-2) made it 3-2 in the bottom of the third as Michaud walked in a run with the bases loaded after Winslow reestablished its two-run lead in the top half. The Tigers then tied it on a Lainey Cooley RBI triple, took the lead as Cooley scored on a wild pitch, and went up 5-3 on a Takatsu RBI double off the wall.

Gardiner’s Taylor Takatsu jumps onto home plate after hitting a solo homer against Winslow during the Class B softball championship game Saturday in Gorham. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Winslow loaded the bases with one out in the top of the fifth and pulled back within a run on a Harley Pomerleau RBI infield single. The Black Raiders would take the lead on a Lacey Sillanpaa single that knocked in two runs, make it three runs on a two-RBI single by Kaci Fortin and stretched it to 9-5 in the top of the sixth.

Gardiner, though, rallied just as it did all season. Despite only getting two hits in the sixth inning, the Tigers plated four runs through a combination of walks, stolen bases and Winslow errors to tie the game. Then, after Vasvary hit a triple with two in the bottom of the seventh, a ball that slipped past the catcher gave her the perfect chance to sprint home.

“I said to myself in the batter’s box, ‘Right now is the time for her to have a passed ball if we’re going to have one,’” Gero said. “When I see it go by her, I just start yelling to Corinne, ‘Go! Go! Go!’ When I realized she was going to make it, I was just beside myself.”

Takatsu (home run, double), Cooley (triple, single) and Vasvary (triple, single) had two hits each for Gardiner, and Clary (triple), Inman, Lovely and Plourde (singles) had one apiece. Cooley, the winning pitcher, had five strikeouts for the Tigers in the circle. Knight had a game-high four hits for Winslow, and Michaud had eight strikeouts.


Cooley took a painful shot in the top of the fifth inning as a hard-hit line drive by Knight hit her in the shin. The sophomore was down in pain momentarily but got back up to continue pitching and started Gardiner’s game-tying rally an inning later with a leadoff single.

“I just focused on doing what I needed to do and doing my job, whether I was hurting a little or not,” Cooley said. “We’re a team that’s battled all year long, and I wasn’t about to quit then. I knew the pain would go away after a little bit, and it did.”

The rally to win was nothing new for Gardiner, which has found ways to prevail in these tight games all season long. Knowing the contest was going to be a tight one all the way until the end, Gero told his players not to worry too much about the ebbs and flows of the game. 

Gardiner’s Lainey Cooley fires in a pitch against Winslow during the Class B softball championship game Saturday in Gorham. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“We would come back, and they would come back, and it was a back-and-forth seesaw battle,” Gero said. “I just kept telling the girls, ‘Stay focused, don’t let the nerves take over and just do what we do. We’ve been up by more, and we’ve been down by more, and we’ll be fine.’”

The emotions of winning the program’s first state title since 1980 were still raw on the hill beside the stadium. After some more tears and hugs, the Tigers hopped aboard the team bus quickly — after 42 years, Gero said, the team was not a moment longer than necessary to “bring it home.”

No one, though, would let the team leave without a hug from Vasvary. After a celebratory pile-up and the manner of the victory that had produced it, she could have been forgiven if the magnitude of the moment hadn’t fully set in.

“I think it’s only set in a little bit; maybe once we get back to school it will hit me,” Vasvary said. “I still kind of can’t believe it. We’ll never forget this.”

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