Softball: Coe-Brown D-II championship streak ends in extra innings

Coe-Brown outfielder Madeline Lovett consoles pitcher Kylie Bieniek after the team lost to Oyster River in extra innings in Saturday’s Division II championship game.

Coe-Brown outfielder Madeline Lovett consoles pitcher Kylie Bieniek after the team lost to Oyster River in extra innings in Saturday’s Division II championship game. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Oyster River baserunner Morgan Trela scores what turned out to be the winning run in the top of the ninth inning as Coe-Brown catcher Reilly West takes the throw at Plymouth State on Saturday.

Oyster River baserunner Morgan Trela scores what turned out to be the winning run in the top of the ninth inning as Coe-Brown catcher Reilly West takes the throw at Plymouth State on Saturday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Oyster River baserunner Aliza Parks beats out a throw to Coe-Brown first baseman Addison Coffin. Parks drove home the tying run on Saturday to force extra innings.

Oyster River baserunner Aliza Parks beats out a throw to Coe-Brown first baseman Addison Coffin. Parks drove home the tying run on Saturday to force extra innings. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Oyster River teammates surround Morgan Trela after she scored what turned out to be the winning run in the top of the ninth inning as Coe-Brown catcher Reilly West looks on at Plymouth State’s Chase Field on Saturday night.

Oyster River teammates surround Morgan Trela after she scored what turned out to be the winning run in the top of the ninth inning as Coe-Brown catcher Reilly West looks on at Plymouth State’s Chase Field on Saturday night. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Coe-Brown shortstop Annie Jerome shows the ball to the umpire after tagging out Oyster River runner Kaiya Mercier for the final out in the seventh inning on Saturday.

Coe-Brown shortstop Annie Jerome shows the ball to the umpire after tagging out Oyster River runner Kaiya Mercier for the final out in the seventh inning on Saturday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

By DAN ATTORRI

Monitor staff

Published: 06-09-2024 1:46 AM

PLYMOUTH – All good things must come to an end, but while Coe-Brown Northwood Academy’s defeat in Saturday’s Division II softball championship ended the Bears’ streak of consecutive titles, it also marked the dawn of a new era for the program.

No. 1 Coe-Brown fell to No. 3 Oyster River, 3-2, in nine innings at Plymouth State University’s Chase Field, failing to extend its streak of back-to-back championships won in 2022 and 2023. It’s a loss that stings, especially given that it comes against the neighboring and rival Bobcats, but given how the season opened – with a 5-1 loss to Oyster River on April 10 – the Bears can look back on the 2024 season with pride.

“We’ve certainly improved starkly since that day,” Coe-Brown head coach Dave Allis said. “From that day on, we (won 17 games in a row) after that. I can’t be anything other than happy.”

Just as the Bears bounced back from that season-opening loss, Coe-Brown bounced back from an early deficit.

Sophomore pitcher Kylie Bieniek – the Division II Player of the Year – had a rocky second inning (the only inning played in the downpouring rain) with Oyster River’s Morgan Trela (2-for-4, RBI, run) driving home Maeve Hickok on a single to right field for a 1-0 lead.

Bieniek hit a batter and walked two more to load the bases in the top of the second prior to giving up Trela’s RBI single, but she settled in after that, only walking one more batter and striking out six, allowing nine hits and three runs in nine innings. She also went 2-for-4 at the plate.

Unlike the championship victories in 2022 and 2023, the Bears have a much less experienced squad and graduated some key pieces to those teams. 

“She was incredible,” Allis said of his sophomore ace. “She was incredible, as she has been all year, dealing with a lot of adversity. She broke it down and did her job well.”

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One of the few returning players with varsity experience, senior captain and shortstop Annie Jerome, reached first base on an infield error, scoring junior second baseman Bella Pelletier (0-for-2, two walks) to put Coe-Brown on the board in the bottom of the third. Bieniek’s RBI single to right brought home senior third baseman Jayden Porter (2-for-4) to give the Bears their first – and only – lead of the game, 2-1. 

Aliza Parks reached on an infield error, to drive home Mia Boyd in the top of the sixth inning to force extra innings.

Trela had a leadoff triple in  the top of the ninth and scored the championship-winning run on an Addy Veno sacrifice fly to deep right.

Junior center fielder Haile Comeau (1-for-5) and freshman catcher Reilly West (1-for-3, walk) had Coe-Brown’s other hits.

The Bobcats outhit the Bears, 9-6, and had strong days at the plate from Maddy Veno (2-for-5, two doubles), Kate Michaud (2-for-4, triple) and Laura Boughton (2-for-3, double, walk).

“Overall, our defense was very strong,” Jerome, a tri-captain, said. “We had our issues in the field today and that caught up with us, but we mostly played how we wanted to. We couldn’t get our bats going.”

Captains Jerome, Porter and Comeau were the only returning players who played in both title-winning games in 2022 and 2023. There was a little bit of a learning curve at the beginning of the season adjusting to a new roster with many changes, but Coe-Brown still finished the season with 17 victories (a stretch that included a 3-2 victory over Oyster River on 5/6), outscoring opponents 206-35. The Bears shut out their opponents nine times (including twice in the playoffs) and plated double digit runs in 11 games.

“It was a big change to have to step up as leaders,” Jerome said. “I think we were really able to make sure that (coming together as a team) happened. I don’t think I could be any more proud of this program and the girls I’ve been playing with. (The seniors) are going to move on from it and (the underclassmen) are going to come back stronger next year.”