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Softball: Windham, Cheverus set for rematch in A South final after dominant seasons

Jun. 10—The Windham softball team saw what a big stage looks like last year, when it took down Oxford Hills to win the Class A state championship.

The Eagles, however, know Tuesday's A South final, when they face Cheverus and dominant freshman Addison DeRoche, could be even bigger. And just thinking about it, senior pitcher Brooke Gerry couldn't help but smile.

"I have a feeling it's going to be a lot of people, just like the state game was. Maybe more," Gerry said. "Even in practices, we've been talking about it, we're like 'It's Chev again.' We know it's going to be a good game."

Less than two weeks after meeting for a highly-anticipated regular-season finale, the teams are set for the rematch. Windham (18-0) and Cheverus (17-1) will face off in what might be a showdown of the state's two best teams and pitchers, at the end of what's felt like a season-long collision course.

"We have to approach each game as it comes, but we've just been preparing and preparing and preparing for Windham," Cheverus senior shortstop Kelsey Cassidy said. "We are so ready and we are so locked in."

Storylines abound for southern Maine teams in the regional finals. Defending Class B champion York (18-0), which has won two playoff games by a combined score of 23-3, will try to beat Freeport (16-2) and return to the state final. North Yarmouth Academy (17-1), which won the Class D title last year, will try for another regional crown when it plays second-seeded Buckfield (17-1).

Most of the buzz, however, is centered on Class A's matchup, and has been since Windham took the first showdown, 3-1, on May 31. At the heart of the matchup are the pitchers, with Cheverus sporting the Gatorade Player of the Year in DeRoche, who has pitched two straight no-hitters in the playoffs and is now 10-1 with a 0.10 ERA.

"I don't think energy will be hard to come by," DeRoche said.

DeRoche has been the talk of the state, but Gerry — last year's Varsity Maine Player of the Year — has been brilliant again. She's 9-0 with a 0.26 ERA.

"It's going to be a battle," Gerry said. "She's going to end up D-I, I'm going D-I (to Rhode Island). It's going to be a pitchers' duel, in the end, and it'll be whoever can keep the walks down and hits to a minimum."

DeRoche fanned 12 against three hits in the first game, while Gerry whiffed 14 against four hits. Hitting either pitcher is as stiff a challenge as there is in the sport, with both expertly utilizing velocity, movement, location and a wide array of pitches.

Windham's loaded lineup, led by Gerry, Addie Caiazzo, Jadyn and Kennedy Kimball and Stella Jarvais, did just enough in its first look at DeRoche but will hope for more success this time.

"I don't think there's one key (to hitting her)," Jadyn Kimball said. "In practice, applying what you know about her and her speed and using our two pitchers (Gerry and Kennedy Kimball) that throw in the 60s to our advantage and getting used to that speed helps a lot."

Cheverus's lineup, led by big bats in DeRoche, Hailey Lamontagne, Ashley Connor and Delia Tremble, likewise hopes a second try against Gerry pays dividends. The Stags had chances in the first game, leaving seven on base.

"It's about just trying to get the bat on the ball," Cheverus Coach John Eisenhart said. "Put it in play and see what happens. ... You know it's going to be a low-scoring game. Put the ball in play and try to move runners when you can."

For all their similarities, the teams differ in the key area of experience. While the Stags are building their big-game savvy, the Eagles, with three straight trips to the A South final, have honed theirs.

"We know how to calm our nerves and stay focused on what we're doing," Gerry said. "When athletes get put into big games, they can get ahead of themselves and their nerves can get to them. But luckily for us, we've had those games."

Tuesday's setting, however, could be the craziest scene Windham's seen yet. Even if it is, Eagles Coach Darcey Gardiner said her team will savor it.

"These girls get up for big games, and that's awesome to see as a coach," she said. "I don't have to push competition down their throats. They're all competitors, and they get up for games like this."

York met Freeport during the regular season, winning 10-0 on May 20. McKayla Kortes (one-hitter in the semifinals versus Gardiner) has been fantastic in the circle and at the plate, resulting in her third straight WMC Player of the Year selection, while Maddie Fitzgerald, Sarah Orso (homers versus Gardiner), Nya Avery and Emily Estes have led a powerful lineup that has worn teams out all season.

Freeport, enjoying a comeback season after going 3-13 last year, has shown firepower of its own with 19 runs in playoff victories over Oak Hill and Medomak Valley.

NYA has outscored teams 27-2 this postseason. Lily Rawnsley has been the ace while leading a potent lineup along with Jordan Nash, Brooklyn Goodman and Hayden Wienckowski, but the Panthers will face a stiff challenge against a Buckfield team that, like them, hasn't lost to a Class D foe all season.

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