STANDISH, Maine — Not since the days of Sharon Siebert has a girls varsity sports program at Deer Isle-Stonington high school tasted state-championship glory, when the girls basketball team hoisted a gold ball in 1987.
Fittingly, as a fleet of Mariners hugged, screamed and smiled around Saint Joseph’s College’s Bailey Field Saturday afternoon, the man who captained their ship was Terry Siebert, older brother of the ex-basketball star.
Legions of Mariners’ followers finally got something to celebrate, as Sydney Ouzts pitched an efficient game and Janelle Ciomei delivered a clutch two-run double as the Mariners rallied to defeat Richmond 7-2 for the Class D state championship.
The Mariners capped the season 17-2 and defending state champion Richmond finished 17-1.
Deer Isle-Stonington won the first regional championship in program history last spring, falling to this same Richmond club 14-12 in the state game.
“This is something that they’ve really been working for and really been striving for,” said Siebert. “They knew coming in here that we had a very good chance.”
Ouzts retired the final 11 Bobcats she faced, didn’t walk anybody and struck out 11 in giving up two runs on five hits.
“I just knew I had to pitch my hardest,” said the righthander.
The Mariners, who scored a whopping 45 runs in dispatching East Grand, Central Aroostook and Ashland in the Eastern Maine tournament, rapped 16 hits. While many of them weren’t line shots off the fence or into the gaps, they were well-placed, compared to early on when it seemed every ball off a DI-S player’s bat was gobbled up by Richmond’s fielders.
“It was frustrating, but we knew if we kept hitting the ball, we’d find the gaps eventually,” said Ciomei.
Richmond was in control early on, scoring a first-inning run on two bunt singles, a double-steal and a throwing error while the Bobcats got another in the second on Lindsy Hoopingarner’s base hit to left.
The Mariners had a great chance in the third after Emily Cormier and Holly Brewer singled with one out, but Cormier was called out for interfering with shortstop Danica Hurley en route to third base on Ciomei’s grounder, and DI-Stonington squandered a second-and-third, nobody-out chance in the fourth as Bobcats’ catcher Hoopingarner cut two runners down at the plate and snared a foul popup.
The Mariners finally broke through in the fifth, with Cormier blooping a single just over the head of Richmond starter Jamie Plummer, and after four straight singles by Holly Brewer, Ciomei, Ouzts (RBI) and Chelsea Brown (RBI) and an error, it was 3-2.
“That’s the one thing about these girls is they don’t give up and they want to keep hitting the ball,” said Siebert. “Nobody’s going to shut us out, the offense that we have, the hitters that we have, they’re going to get to it sooner or later.”
The Mariners put it away with four sixth-inning runs, and fittingly, it was Ciomei who delivered the big blow with a sharp double to the left-field fence.
That provided great validation for a player who has watched her brothers win state titles on the diamond and basketball court.
“I don’t think it has quite sunk in all the way, but it’s just amazing,” said Ciomei. “I’ve never felt something so extreme. Words can’t explain it.”
Ciomei was among five Mariners who enjoyed multi-hit games, with Holly Brewer and Cormier (three singles, two runs apiece) leading the charge.
Ouzts was well in command by the time the Mariners took the lead, and Richmond didn’t have a baserunner after Payton Johnson’s one-out base hit in the fourth.
“Her changeup wasn’t as great as it has been lately, but she had her fastball going today,” said Siebert.
Ouzts’ changeup had been lethal in her previous three outings, but the Bobcats were struggling to catch up to the heat.
“I just knew I couldn’t go wrong with it,” she said. “I’ve been doing it for like nine years.”
It’s a good thing Ouzts worked quickly and efficiently, as the thunderstorms that delayed the Class B baseball game for nearly two hours rumbled in just as she struck out Noel Acord to finish the game.