Softball: G-NG charges past Freeport on a big second inning

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G-NG's Mikaela Ryan arrives home in the Patriots' explosive third inning.

NEW GLOUCESTER – Leadoff batter Mikaela Ryan knocked a double to spark a huge, five-run third inning for the Patriots vs. visiting Freeport on Saturday morning, May 20. The G-NG push – featuring runs by Ryan, Alison Martell, Isabelle Brindley, Hannah Dixon and Chelsea Davis – ultimately proved the linchpin in a comfortable, 9-3 victory for the home team.

“We took advantage of a solid inning early, and then kept the momentum to ‘win’ each inning offensively and defensively,” said G-NG head coach Amanda Harmon. “Besides giving up the runs in the seventh inning, it was a strong performance.”

“Just in a tough spot, trying to make plays,” Freeport head coach Jason Daniel said. “I have a young team. Sometimes, they work really well together. Then, [G-NG] makes that one play, and I think there’s a little frustration, where they feel they’ve really got to pay attention and they’re overthinking it.”

But Daniel also directed credit where credit is due: “And G-NG, they’ve got a good team. Amanda does a great job, she has a bunch of good players out there and two good coaches on the sidelines. I can’t take anything from them.”

The Patriots jumped on the board first, posting two in their opening at-bats. Alexa Thayer, the team’s first man up, kicked off the drive, logging a single off Freeport pitcher Brianna Bellefleur; Thayer moved to second on a fielder’s choice during Ryan’s turn at the plate, then to third on a pass ball during Martell’s swings and home again when Martell clubbed a triple. Brindley, following Martell into the batter’s box, tallied a single to bring Martell around for the 2-0 strike.

Martell, pitching for G-NG, held the Falcons quiet in the top of the second and the top of the third; Bellefleur likewise stymied the Patriots in the bottom of the second – but G-NG seemed to figure her out again in the bottom of the third, when they exploded for five hits and those five fateful runs.

With Ryan on second after her leadoff double, Martell doubled as well; Martell grabbed an extra base on the play, and Ryan scored, when Freeporter Sarah Gray erred in the field. Brindley next grabbed two bases on another Falcons miscue, this one by Callie Toothaker, and Dixon singled to load the diamond. Lydia Espling cleared Martell off third with a flyout to right, and two batters later, Brindley scored on a pass ball. Soon, Dixon had scored on a pass ball as well, and Davis had scored on a Jordan Grant single. Less than halfway through the contest, G-NG stood on top 7-0.

Daniel lamented his girls’ one bad inning. “Five runs in the second,” he said. “It would’ve been a good game. It was still a good game; we played well.”

“It’s always just that one inning. They get rattled in one inning,” Daniel said. “Today, I had a girl in centerfield trip over her feet, because she was gliding back for the ball. And she dropped the ball. Then I had my rightfielder dive for a catch and she lands on her shoulder wrong and she drops the ball. Those things you can’t do anything about. It’s little things.”

To Freeport’s credit, they displayed some good awareness against a tough opponent, and good defensive IQ in particular: They kept reliable track of their fielding options, for example. “They know what they have to do,” Daniel said. “Making the good throw, the smart play. They play smart, they really do.”

The Patriots made it 8-0 in the bottom of the fifth – Haley True scored on an error – and 9-0 in the bottom of the sixth, when Brindley scored on a 6-3 Espling groundout. Finally, in the top of the seventh, Freeport settled into something of a groove, scoring three. Gray doubled to begin it; advancing and scoring on a couple pass balls during Brianna Welch’s at-bat. Welch ultimately walked onto first, then advanced to second when Toothaker singled; Welch later scored on a Dixon fielding error during Bellefleur’s at-bat.

The Falcons would round two more girls home again in their valiant attempt to battle back. Unfortunately, three runs wouldn’t be nearly enough to bring them even with the Patriots, and both teams retired without seeing the bottom of the seventh. 9-3 the final.

Daniel described Freeport’s late push. “Right in the last,” he said. “Sarah Gray, big hit, gets on, a double. Then Brooke Toothaker, then there’s a walk – just making things happen that we should’ve been making happen all along. If we hadn’t given up that one big inning, the game’s tied 3-3 in the seventh.”

“We cannot expect any game is a win, going into it,” Harmon said, “so the ladies have to work smart to make the key plays to stay focused for a full game for a win.”

The win propelled G-NG to 6-5 on the season. The Patriots fell 10-5 to York two days later; they traveled to Fryeburg on the 24th, and will host Traip on the 26th.

Freeport, meanwhile, slid to 1-10. They dropped further, to 1-11, in a 23-9 loss to Wells on Monday. The Falcons traveled to Greely on the 24th, and will host Lake Region on the 26th.

Adam Birt can be reached at abirt@keepmecurrent.com. Follow him on Twitter @CurrentSportsME.

G-NG’s Mikaela Ryan arrives home in the Patriots’ explosive third inning.

Alison Martell leaps off third for the Patriots.

G-NG’s Isabelle Brindley slides into home as Freeport pitcher Brianna Bellefleur covers the plate and waits on an incoming throw from near the backstop.

Jordan Grant arrives safely on second base.

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