Friday, June 23, 2023

Windham High softball captures first Class A State Title

By Matt Pascarella

For the first time since 1995 when softball was Class B, Windham softball has captured the Class A State Championship. Ranked second in Class A South and facing Class A’s No. 1 ranked Oxford Hills, Windham took control of the game early and worked hard to churn out a 3-1 victory at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham on Tuesday, June 20.

Windham High junior Brooke Gerry, senior Hannah
Heanssler, and sophomore Kennedy Kimball hoist the 
2023 Maine Class A State Softball Championship
trophy after Windham won the title buy defeating
Oxford Hills. 3-1, at the University of Southern
Maine in Gorham on Tuesday, June 20.
“No words can even describe it,” said Windham senior Hannah Heanssler, who dove for an amazing catch early in the game. “It’s the exact way I’ve always wanted my season and my career as a softball player to end and playing for this team has been incredible and I cannot put it into words how amazing it is.”

Heanssler said that going into her final prep game, she was going to use everything she had and was going to play all out and do anything for the team. She said playing with this group of girls she’s grown up with has made the season memorable.

According to Heanssler, everyone played their positions incredibly and their energy was amazing. She said everyone on the Windham team wanted to win and worked together to make it happen.

Oxford Hills put one run on the scoreboard in the first inning to take an early lead, but Windham answered in the bottom of the first when junior Brooke Gerry reached on an error and sophomore Stella Jarvais and junior Jaydn Kimball then walked. Sophomore Kennedy Kimball’s flied out and Gerry scored on a wild pitch. Jarvais was at third base ready to bolt; and bolt she did, scoring her team’s second run. Windham led 2-1 after one inning.

In the third inning, Gerry singled, and freshman Addison Caiazzo walked. Jaydn Kimball singled, scoring Gerry and Windham had a 3-1 lead.

“This is definitely surreal,” said Windham varsity softball coach Darcey Gardiner. “Our willpower earned this win. From Day One we have said one pitch at a time. The focus and the one pitch at a time motto is how we keep that composure to win. Making the adjustments when we’re up to the plate, making the adjustments when we’re on defense, every pitch you are doing something different ... I’m really proud of them for keeping their composure and pulling it out.”

Gardiner also said that this was the first time two females served as coaches during the Class A State Championship Game and it’s always a big deal when females coaches compete together.

After the third inning, the game went scoreless for over three innings, as both teams were evenly matched. Windham’s defense often left Oxford Hills runners stranded on base at the end of innings.

It all came down to the top of the seventh inning. Oxford Hills’ first two batters lined out and grounded out. On a 1-2 count, Oxford Hills hit the ball right to Gerry, who threw to first base for the out and secured Windham’s first-ever state Class A softball championship.

In the game, Gerry pitched 7 innings, gave up 4 hits, struck out 11, and only walked one Oxford Hills batter.

“It felt great, we really worked as a team this season,” said Gerry. “Staying focused and taking it one pitch at a time [led to the win]. We kind of got rattled a little bit in the first inning, but then we remembered one pitch at a time, ‘control the controllables’ and we came back in the bottom of the inning. Our communication went well, and in the dugout our energy was over the top.”

Windham had escaped a high-pressure situation point in the top of the sixth inning with two outs, with Oxford Hills runners on first base and third base. Gerry said that Windham had to breathe and remember they had each other’s back, trusting one another, and that’s exactly what they did. Those runners remained on base as the inning ended.

Gerry said nerves are a sign a good thing is coming, and the Windham team interpreted those nerves as a sign that they would succeed, but they were careful to not get too cocky about it.

Windham freshman Oakley McLeod said they played well together as a team and fed off each other’s energy. In hitting, fielding and all-around, she said that Windham shined.

“Our strategy was mental toughness,” said the Windham’s catcher, Jarvais. “Knowing the crowd was going to be big we had to dial in and trust each other and focus on pitch by pitch what we were going to do, and I think we did that very well.”

Jarvais said with every pitch it’s a different spin, a different call, a different mindset of how Gerry’s going to execute it. Jarvais said what Gerry did was that she dialed her in and trusted her. Their passion showed, and this was definitely a team win. <

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