The Lady Eagles softball team has waited eight years to make the playoffs and they have succeeded in style. Tuesday afternoon, the Eagles (8th) hosted the Gorham Rams (9th) in a Western Class A softball preliminary-round tournament game.
Any type of playoff game or championship game is enjoyed by the fans more when there is a challenge, when the players are playing to their potential and the team is working together. That is exactly what happened for both the Eagles and the Rams during this preliminary game, unlike during the regular season when these two teams faced off and the score ended up 14-8 with Windham winning that game.
Senior Julia Gaudette was the starting pitcher for the Rams and she went head to head with the Eagles Danielle Tardiff. The Rams scored first and kept the lead going into the third inning when Windham’s Sadie Nelson and Olivia Mora each hit home runs; Nelson’s was a bomb going far over the left-field fence and Mora’s clearing the center-field fence. The Rams tied the game up in the top of the fifth when courtesy runner Kathryn Bertin, running for Gaudette, scored from second base on a sacrifice fly to deep right by Grace McGouldrick.
Julia Gaudette for the Rams pitched a good game against the Eagles and stepped down in the sixth as Grace McGouldrick stepped up to the mound to pitch the remainder of the game.
The Lady Eagles Christina Mooradian led off the sixth inning with her second single of the game, and Katie Hunter stepped in to pinch run for her. Hunter stole second, but was still there with two outs on the board.
“My assistants and I had been talking and noticed that their third baseman was crashing hard,” said Eagles Coach Demmons. “We figured we could sneak her in there and knew it would take a perfect throw, a perfect play, to make the play.” On the second pitch to Lauren Talbot, Katie Hunter ran for third, Hunter had stopped halfway between the bases, but the throw went into left field and she was able to continue. “I thought that there was no chance of me getting to third because the catcher had already thrown it,” said Hunter. “But I watched for her to drop it and it just passed her so I was like, ‘I’m going home.’ ”
Hunter slid home just before the throw and the Eagles took the lead 3-2. Now it was up to Danielle Tardiff to secure the win for the Eagles. Tardiff struck out the first two batters and got the final out on a foul pop in which catcher Sadie Nelson was able to make to seal the deal.
“She was superb,” Nelson said of Tardiff. “She hit all her spots. She pitched an amazing game.”
Eagles coach Demmons was pleased with the way his young team responded to the playoffs. The Eagles have only two seniors on their roster. “The kids showed a lot of character, a lot of heart,” he said. The Rams coach Martin stated, “We hope to do better in the future. The kids worked hard but give Windham credit. They hit the ball well and their pitcher threw well. “We knew coming in she was going to throw strikes and you could see the last couple of innings she got on top of us.” The Eagles also played well defensively as Catcher Sadie Nelson picked a runner off first and shortstop Madison Elliott turned a soft line drive into a double play.
The Lady Eagles will face top-ranked Scarborough on Thursday for the quarterfinals.