CUMBERLAND, Maine — Saturday’s playoff softball game came down to one hit in the seventh inning. Greely had one. Leavitt didn’t.
Dani Cimino had the Rangers’ hit in the seventh, plating the winning run to lift Greely to a 4-3 win over Leavitt in their Western B semifinal.
With the walk-off win, the Rangers advance to Wednesday’s regional final against Fryeburg at St. Joseph’s College.
Leavitt had two runners in scoring position in the top of the seventh but failed to get the go-ahead runner across.
“It was ours to win,” said Leavitt coach Pete Higgins. “It just didn’t turn out that way. It was certainly an equal opportunity type of game.”
Leavitt (12-6) built a 3-0 lead, but Greely (16-2) rallied with two runs in the third and a tying run in the fourth, all aided by Hornet errors.
“We always fight back,” said Cimino. “We never give up. Obviously no one likes coming from behind, but we have no problem doing it, and we pulled through.”
Cimino struck out five and allowed just four hits. She had to battle in the top of the seventh just to preserve the tie. She walked Sierra Santomango to lead off the inning. Sarah Enos moved her over. After a ground out, Tori Zupancic came up with Santomango at third. Zupancic already had two hits and had scored two of Leavitt’s runs.
After getting ahead in the count, Cimino couldn’t put Zupancic away. She fouled off numerous pitches before drawing a walk. She stole second to put two runners in position.
“I wasn’t going to let that girl score,” said Cimino. “I walked her. That was my fault. I wasn’t letting her score. I couldn’t let that happen, especially for my seniors. I was going to get that out.”
Emily Perkins followed and lined out to Caroline Hamilton at short. Perkins had robbed Cimino of a hit earlier in the game with a wonderful catch in center.
“We couldn’t get that hit when we had people in scoring position,” said Higgins. “A little single right there and we get two runs, and we’re in good shape.”
Instead, it was Greely that got the clutch single. Miranda Moore led off the inning with a hard hit ball that Enos made a nice catch on in right. Katie Whittum followed with a slash hit. Hamilton moved her over to second, setting the stage for Cimino.
“Miranda got robbed and we were like, ‘It’s okay, Katie will get on,'” said Cimino. “She got on and Caroline moved her over like she always does. I needed her to score. So I was looking for something outside to punch it to the right side.”
Cimino got the kind of pitch she wanted. With Whittum running the bases, Leavitt had little chance of getting her at home.
“She’s fast,” said Cimino. “If there’s someone we want on base in that situation, it’s always her.”
Leavitt had built the 3-0 with two runs in the first. Annie Castonguay and Adrie Newton each had RBI singles to stake Leavitt to the quick lead. Then in the third, Zupancic led off with a single again and came around to score on a wild pitch.
Newton had held Greely to just single hits in each of the first two innings, but the Rangers came to life in the third. Leavitt helped Greely with a pair of errors.
“They’re a very good team and they have some very good hitters,” said Higgins. “But, truthfully, we opened the door for them.”
With one out, Whittum reached on an infield hit and scored when a fly was dropped in the outfield. Hamilton reached third on the error and scored on a Cimino ground out.
The Rangers then tied it in the fourth when Moore singled with two outs, advanced on an error and scored on a Whittum single.
“We were a little dead at the beginning,” said Cimino. “We got the one hit and got a run. Hitting’s contagious, and it just piled on.”
Though Leavitt had three hits in the first off Cimino, it only produced two more hits the rest of the way.
“They’ve done a great job this season,” said Higgins. “All things considered, it’s been a very successful year. It’s disappointing when you get this far and you don’t make it to the next step.”