STANDISH, Maine — A year ago, the members of the Oceanside High School softball team joined forces after representing two different schools — Rockland District High School and Georges Valley High School of Thomaston.
On Saturday, the Mariners demonstrated that they have come together as one formidable team.
Oceanside seized the lead in the sixth inning and put the game out of reach in the seventh on its way to an 8-1 victory over Greely of Cumberland Center in the Class B softball state championship game at Saint Joseph’s College.
“It’s amazing. We’ve clearly made history at our new school and it feels awesome,” said Mariners senior Hanna Plourde. “We can finally take down the old banners from the two [former] schools and we can put up KVAC champions, Eastern Maine champions and now state champions and it feels incredible.”
Coach Rusty Worcester’s Mariners completed the season at 19-1, winning the first state title at Oceanside in any sport.
Western Maine champ Greely wound up 15-5.
Oceanside’s roster features a balanced mix of players from both of the former school districts, including a nucleus of six seniors.
“They’ve really come together as a true team, playing their roles and doing whatever it takes to win,” Worcester said. “They’re really a close-knit group.”
Senior right-hander Lindsey Frye provided the pitching prowess, limiting the Rangers to four hits. She struck out three and walked four, but allowed only the unearned run.
“Obviously, this team was a lot better than anybody we’ve played,” said Frye, whose sister Danielle pitched Georges Valley to back-to-back state titles in 2007 and 2008.
“We couldn’t really get in our mojo or get in a groove until later in the game,” added Frye, who retired 10 in a row and allowed only two baserunners in the last four innings.
Oceanside committed one error.
For five innings, Greely righty Dani Cimino was in command. She retired 13 of the first 15 batters she faced and wound up allowing six hits.
Cimino, who finished with nine strikeouts, two walks and a hit batter, had been staked to a 1-0 lead in the second inning.
“When you’re facing a tremendous pitcher, you’ve got to be patient and take advantage of stuff once she offers it,” Worcester said.
Oceanside finally broke the ice in the sixth inning after a throwing error on a grounder by senior Emma Davis’ opened the door.
With one out, Frye laid down a bunt single and two runs scored when Grover’s fly ball down the right-field line was misplayed. Senior Molly Mellor followed with an RBI groundout to give Oceanside a 3-1 lead.
“We were a little nervous and the sixth inning rolled around and that’s what we do,” Davis said of the rally.
“Just that little push gets everyone going,” she added. “When we’re all pumped, we’re just ready to go.”
Oceanside ended the suspense in the seventh. Plourde reached on a slap bunt to shortstop with one out, before Caitlyn Raye was hit by a pitch and Davis walked.
Junior Brooke Dugan delivered a two-run single to right-center to give the Mariners the lead for good. She stole second base, then Grover hit a hard single off the glove of the shortstop that plated two runs.
Mellor added an RBI single to complete the scoring.
“They really have stepped it up all year long and they came through when it counted in crunch time,” Worcester said.
Plourde singled twice among six hits for the Mariners, including three infield singles.
Greely took a 1-0 lead in the second when Miranda Moore reached on a throwing error, Charlotte Benoit walked and Audrey Mann stroked a hard single to center.
The Rangers also received singles from Haley Felkel and Elyse Dinan.
Oceanside’s players know they have taken tremendous strides in the last two seasons.
“It was weird coming together last year,” Grover admitted. “We were all still on our [respective] sides.
“We came together in all three sports this year. Finally, everyone’s Oceanside. It’s all the same colors now.”