Bruce Fires To First

Falmouth pitcher Molly Bruce scoops up a grounder and throws the ball to first base against Mashpee.

The last Atlantic Coast League game that any Falmouth High School athletic team will play in resulted in the last Atlantic Coast League championship that any Falmouth High School team will win. The Clippers’ softball team won its first-ever, and last-ever, ACL title with a thrilling 10-inning win on the road at Dennis-Yarmouth High School Wednesday, May 29.

FHS shares the ACL crown three ways with the Dolphins of D-Y and Marshfield. All three teams finish the league slate with 6-2 records. Each club beat the other once and lost to the other once while sweeping Sandwich and Nauset.

Abby Pope’s single in the top of the 10th inning drove home the first of Falmouth’s three runs in the top of the 10th, breaking a 6-6 deadlock as she plated Hayley Silvia with the go-ahead run. Silvia, who had made the final out of the ninth inning, started the 10th at second base as part of the tie-breaker rule that puts a runner in scoring position to begin every inning from the 10th on. D-Y threw the ball away on the play, which allowed Caiti Pope, who had walked to start the frame, to score all the way from first. Abby Pope reached third on the play and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Grace Kwon that she popped to center field to make it 9-6.

“I was just trying to put the ball in play and get the run in, especially with a girl at second,” Abby Pope said of her approach in the tenth. “It feels very good to (beat D-Y). It’s a big win.”

In the bottom of the inning the Clippers played it safe behind Molly Bruce. They traded a run for the second out of the inning and then wrapped up their share of the title when the FHS starting pitcher got a fly ball to left field that Charlotte Sylvia gloved for the final out.

“Since Falmouth has come to the ACL we’ve never won it, or had a share of it, this is huge. When D-Y tied it up they could have just gave up, hung their heads, but they didn’t. They kept fighting defensively and at the bat,” Coach Amy Bruce said, unable to hide the contentment or pride she was feeling after her team pulled out a gutsy win.

Early on it looked like it would be an easy day for the Clippers. Falmouth staked itself to a 6-0 lead after two and a half frames, thanks to a five-run second and then an insurance run in the third. From that point on, though, D-Y starter Abby Hicks buckled down and started to retire the Clippers with regularity.

The Dolphins shot themselves in the foot several times in Falmouth’s five-run second inning, making two fielding errors and a costly mental mistake to help FHS through the rally. Sylvia got things going by lining the first pitch that she saw to right for a single and then Bruce reached on a throwing error by pitcher that put runners at second and third. Meghan Robbins then hit a ball to second that should have resulted in an easy first out of the inning, but the ball was airmailed over the first baseman. Two runs scored on the play.

After a strikeout Rachelle Andrade slapped a single by the second baseman for an RBI single. Caiti Pope followed with a dribbler up the third base line that should have been allowed to roll foul. The third baseman decided to play it, and Pope beat it out easily for a single. Her sister Abby followed with a roller to second base that brought a run in to make it 4-0 and Kwon smacked one to center for another run and a 5-0 FHS lead.

In the third Andrade drove in her second run of the game with another single. Robbins scored on that play, making it a 6-0 game.

D-Y fought back to tie it the same way Falmouth had built the lead. They put up a big five-run inning in the fifth, which featured seven softly hit singles, and then used a solo homer in the sixth by Abby Hicks to tie the score. The Dolphins had several chances to put Falmouth away after that, but every time she needed to Bruce was able to come up with a big pitch. The biggest moment came in the bottom of the ninth. D-Y got a leadoff double to start the frame, but Bruce set down the next three in a row to get out of that jam.

Both teams now await the pairings for the MIAA state tournament to begin. Each club should host a home game in the first round.

Falmouth 15, Mashpee 2

The timing certainly could have been better for the Mashpee High School softball team.

The Falcons, desperately in need of wins to qualify for the MIAA state tournament, found themselves matched up with a Falmouth High team that was still riled up by some calls they disagreed with the day before against Dennis-Yarmouth in the championship of the Cape Cod Showdown, and the loss that accompanied that game.

Losing isn’t something the Clippers have done much of this season. The team had just three losses for the season, none of them consecutive, and the Maroon and White made sure it did not suffer its first losing streak of 2019 by posting a 15-2 home win for its 16th victory of the season.

The loss moved MHS to 7-10 overall, leaving it in a position where it has to run the table to qualify for the state tournament.

Every Falmouth starter reached base at least once and scored a run. An eight-run third inning put the contest way out of reach as the Clippers sent 13 batters to the plate in the frame and turned a 5-2 lead into a 13-2 advantage.

Molly Bruce allowed just two hits in the mercy rule-shortened, complete-game effort for the Clippers. Bruce allowed a single in the first to Jayden Bryant, who scored on an error later in the inning. Corey Andrade singled in the third and also came around to score, thanks to an error.

Bruce set down eight of the last nine batters she faced, did not allow an earned run and struck out three. She did not walk a batter and induced nine ground ball outs.

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