High school softball

Lions punch ticket to quarterfinals with prelim road shutout win

Belfast avenges last year's postseason loss to Foxcroft Academy
By Mark Haskell | Jun 05, 2019
Photo by: Mark Haskell Belfast's Maya Cunningham swings at a pitch against Foxcroft Academy on June 4 in a high school softball game in Dover-Foxcroft. The visiting Lions beat the Ponies 4-0 in a Class B North prelim playoff game.

Dover-Foxcroft — Last season, a much younger Belfast softball team saw its season wrap in a shutout loss in the Class B North playoffs against a higher-seeded opponent from Foxcroft Academy.

Nearly a year later — to the day — the No. 11 Lions looked to return the favor against the No. 6 Ponies in a Class B North prelim playoff contest on Tuesday, June 4.

And the opportunistic Lions, riding a supreme pitching performance from senior Gia Davila, did just that as they prowled to a 4-0 win over the Ponies.

Watch video and see more photos below.

With the win, Belfast (7-10) advances to the quarterfinals, where it will play at No. 3 Hermon (13-3) on Thursday, June 6 at 4 p.m. The Lions and Hawks did not play each other during the regular season.

Foxcroft Academy, which entered Tuesday's game riding an 11-game win streak, saw its season wrap at 14-3.

The Lions did not play the Hawks, who beat No. 14 Nokomis of Newport 8-0 in the prelims, this season.

“I’m so proud of them,” said veteran Belfast coach Chris Bartlett. “Last year we came up here and we lost and they realized this year, once we drew Foxcroft, it was a team we could beat. So right from the beginning they wanted to get back up here. Revenge was on their mind and they came up here with all the confidence in the world.”

Leading the Lions at the plate Tuesday were Sarah Fuller (single), Kayci Faulkingham (2 singles, run), Maya Cunningham (single), Brooke Richards (triple, 2 RBIs), Karagen Stone (single), Katie Simmons (single), Oceana Pacholski-Proctor (2 runs) and Angela Rodgers (run).

For the Ponies, Amber Richard (2 singles) and Karis Dankert (single) paced the offense.

Davila spun a three-hit shutout in the pitching circle for the Lions as the senior yielded no walks and struck out 10 in a sensational effort to will Belfast to the next round of the playoffs.

“I think we just really worked hard to get here,” said Davila. “We worked hard in this game and we wanted it.”

Kenzie Beaudry pitched for the Ponies, as she allowed seven hits, three walks and two hit batters, with 12 strikeouts. Last season, Beaudry tossed a two-hit shutout in a 6-0 win over Belfast in the prelim round.

“They were familiar with Kenzie and they knew she was going to bring gas, and she did,” said Bartlett of Foxcroft Academy’s hurler. “She didn’t disappoint, but last year I think she caught us off guard and they were a little scared and nervous. This year, they weren’t scared.”

But, on this day, it was Davila who kept the Ponies off the scoreboard using an array of off-speed pitches and curve balls.

“Gia was keeping them off-balance, keeping them off the bases and some pretty big plays were made in the outfield on some pretty hard hit balls,” said Bartlett

One of those balls was hit by Dankert to Rodgers in left field, who retreated several steps and made a nice running catch to help keep the Ponies off the bases. Cunningham, the Lion catcher, also made a diving, one-handed catch for the second out of the third inning.

Interestingly enough, it was Davila who was plunked both times by Beaudry, both of which set up the first runs of the game for the Lions.

In the third inning, Davila was hit on the foot by a pitch and promptly pinch run for by Pacholski-Proctor, who moved to second on a passed ball and to third after Fuller singled through the right side of the infield to put runners at the corners.

After Fuller stole second base, Pacholski-Proctor scampered home on a passed ball to put the visitors up 1-0.

Then, in the fifth, Davila again was hit by a pitch and pinch run for by Pacholski-Proctor, who moved into scoring position after Rodgers drew a walk.

Faulkingham later laid down a bunt and reached after the Ponies’ defense deferred to indifference to load the bases, but Pacholski-Proctor doubled Belfast’s lead moments later when she again scored on a passed ball.

Then, Richards roped a two-run triple to right-center feld to, again, double the Lion lead.

Bartlett called Richards, who split time in the pitching circle with Davila last season and pitched in last year’s playoff — but has since found a more permanent home at third base — “a student of the game.”

“Every inning she’ll come to me and say ‘What did I do [or] what am I not doing,’ ” he said. “If she doesn’t have it dialed in early, she eventually gets it dialed in and that’s what she did today in a huge situation.”

Now, the Lions will have time to get one practice in before heading to Hermon for a showdown with the Hawks, an opponent who annually is in the regional championship picture.

Bartlett said the Hawks are “a fundamentally-sound ball team.”

“They’re going to hit the ball and they’re going to execute on the bases and at the plate. And if you don’t play a sound game all the way around, you could be in trouble. It’s going to be a tough challenge. But if we just stay loose like we have been, hey, we’ve got nothing to lose.”

Belfast at Foxcroft Academy softball
Foxcroft Academy hosts Belfast on June 4 in high school softball in Dover-Foxcroft. (Video by: Mark Haskell and Holly Vanorse Spicer)
Belfast's Brooke Richards. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Brooke Richards. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Emma Richards, left, and Foxcroft Academy's Natalie Robinson. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Gia Davila. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Angela Rogers. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Oceana Pacholski-Proctor. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Sarah Fuller. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Oceana Pacholski-Proctor, left, and coach Chris Bartlett. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Kayci Faulkingham. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Kayci Faulkingham. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Maya Cunningham. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Kayci Faulkingham. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Karagen Stone. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Grace Fitzjurls, front, and Karagen Stone. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Maya Cunningham. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Maya Cunningham. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Maya Cunningham. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Maya Cunningham. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Gia Davila, right, and Emma Richards, left, along with coach Chris Bartlett. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Brooke Richards. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Grace Fitzjurls. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Katie Simmons. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Gia Davila. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Gia Davila. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Gia Davila. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Kayci Faulkingham. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Kayci Faulkingham. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Kayci Faulkingham. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Oceana Pacholski-Proctor, facing, and Angela Rogers (11), along with Foxcroft Academy's Kenna Higgins. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Kayci Faulkingham. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Maya Cunningham. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Maya Cunningham. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Maya Cunningham. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Brooke Richards. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Kayci Faulkingham, left, and coach Chris Bartlett. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Kayci Faulkingham. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Brooke Richards. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Grace Fitzjurls, left, and Foxcroft Academy's Karis Dankert. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Grace Fitzjurls, right, and coach Chris Bartlett. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
Belfast's Maya Cunningham, right, and Foxcroft Academy's Kenna Higgins. (Photo by: Mark Haskell)
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