Year in Review: Greene's walk-off a Hollywood moment for Patriots

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You try not to throw the word dynasty around too often. A team is good one year, maybe not so much the next — not a dynasty.

But if we're talking about the Mount Anthony girls softball team, well, dynasty might start getting thrown around.

In 2017, in the greatest story never told in the theaters, MAU won its third title in four seasons on a walk-off hit in extra innings by the team's only senior, Marleigh Greene, to beat Essex.

The championship went back-and-forth, both teams taking their shots.

Essex scored first, but Cat Worthington tied it with a homer to left. Essex scored one in the second and one in the third for a 3-1 lead, but MAU scored four runs of their own to go up 5-3, the big blow a Jamie Boyle home run.

Ahead 6-4 in the top of the seventh, the Patriots needed three outs to secure the crown. But Essex fought as McKenna Thorne reached on a close play at first after an infield hit and then Sarah Knickerbocker was the hero, tying the game with a two-run bomb to right center.

The rollercoaster continued into the final frames. Worthington nearly won it with a homer, but she was robbed to send the game to extra innings.

MAU got out of the eighth inning and in the bottom of the frame, Emilie O'Brien walked and got to second on a passed ball. One hitter later, Greene ended the game in only a way a screenwriter could portray.

"I was really upset the last at bat, I hit a pop-up [in the sixth inning] and I thought that was it for the rest of everything," said Greene a few moments after the trophy celebration. "But it came back around, the last game. I can't be more happy right now, it doesn't even feel like it's real right now."

In the opening round, the Patriots had their easiest game of the tournament, an 8-0 win over Spaulding — a game in which coach Katie Contrada earned her 100th victory.

The quarterfinal round was a bit tougher, facing North Country and coming out with a walk-off 6-5 win as Greene had the winning hit and RBI.

Against the Falcons, MAU led 5-3 going to the top of the seventh, but North Country scored a pair of runs to tie the game and send it to the bottom of the seventh where Greene had her heroics to send MAU to the semifinal against South Burlington.

Facing the Rebels in the semifinal, Mount Anthony took a four-run lead but they had to hold on again as South Burlington scored three times in the top of the seventh before pitcher Taylor Dicranian got the final two outs to send MAU to their fourth straight championship.

Story from June 12, 2017 Banner

POULTNEY — A Hollywood screenwriter couldn't sell this script — but it really happened.

In their fourth straight final appearance, senior Marleigh Greene, the only player on the Mount Anthony softball team who has been around for them all, stroked the state-title winning base hit in the bottom of the eighth to lead the Patriots to a 7-6 victory over Essex in the Division I championship at Poultney's Legion Field on Saturday.

"I was really upset the last at bat, I hit a pop-up [in the sixth inning] and I thought that was it for the rest of everything," said Greene a few moments after the trophy celebration. "But it came back around, the last game. I can't be more happy right now, it doesn't even feel like it's real right now."

When Emilie O'Brien slid into home, the play at the plate was close, but the umpire ruled obstruction on Essex's catcher anyway, ending the game and setting off the Mount Anthony side of the field.

"We knew if we could hold them in the eighth, it was going to be our game," said Mount Anthony coach Katie Contrada. "We didn't doubt our team through the ups and downs. This game had everything — home runs, broken fences, diving catches, robbed home runs — it was an amazing game. But when Marleigh came up, I thought this is it, it's over. She'll hit a single and we'll win it. She was the right kid in that situation."

The title is the third in four seasons for Mount Anthony.

The final two innings were meant for the silver screen. Ahead 6-4 in the top of the seventh, the Patriots needed three outs to secure the crown. But Essex fought as McKenna Thorne reached on a close play at first after an infield hit and then Sarah Knickerbocker was the hero, tying the game with a two-run bomb to right center.

"That was indicative of our season to fight all the way," said Essex coach Ashley Stebbins. "I have a group of girls that is so mentally tough and they've risen to a level that I've never seen from a team as a player or coach. I knew with who was coming up in the order with Mckenna and Sarah, if we could get someone on, we'd have a chance to tie it with one swing of the bat."

Mount Anthony pitcher Taylor Dicranian hit the next batter, but got Kaitlyn Butkus to line out to short, Cat Worthington making a shoestring catch that turned into a double play.

In the bottom of the inning, Essex starter Caitlin Toth retired the first two Patriots before Worthington came to the plate. The team's top power hitter gave a Toth pitch a ride to deep right-center, but the Hornets' Michelle Kent robbed a home run to send the game to extras.

In the eighth, Kaitlyn Ferrar bunted for a hit off Dicranian. But the junior hurler set down the next three in order, including Worthington's spectacular catch of a sinking infield liner.

"When it was tied, there wasn't a doubt in my mind that we wouldn't win the game," Contrada said. "I told them, [they] are a great team, the best team here today and you're going to get this done. We have to relax and make the plays, get back up [to the plate] and get it done."

Jamie Boyle grounded out to second to start the bottom of the eighth, but patience won out as Emilie O'Brien walked. Dicranian came up next and on a 2-0 pitch, O'Brien moved into scoring position on a passed ball. Dicranian eventually walked, setting up Greene as the hero.

"She's a faster pitcher, I like to hit against faster pitchers," Greene said. "I didn't want to hit anything outside, I got one down the middle and hit it into centerfield. Being here is exciting, we work so hard for it and deserve this."

Worthington and Boyle each had a double and a homer and Dicranian also had a 2-for-3 day at the plate. Seven of the nine hitters in the lineup had hits off Toth.

"For Caitlin to be successful, she has to hit her spots, some of the pitches were borderline and she wasn't getting the calls," Stebbins said. "When they only need one run., that's tough. She had an incredible day on the mound, and she had never pitched on varsity until this year. We've had a great line of pitchers for the past 10 years and she continued that by giving us a chance to win the state championship."

The lead changed hands several times. Essex scored in the top of the first, taking advantage of a pair of MAU errors. But the Patriots came back immediately in the bottom half when Worthington crushed a homer off the left-field foul pole to tie the game. Essex re-took the lead in the top of the inning when Knickerbocker singled and scored on a poor throw from the outfield. They added a third run in the top of the third, when Thorne reached on a dropped third strike.

But MAU roared back with four runs in the bottom of the third. Keana Gauthier led off with a double in the No. 9 spot in the lineup and after she was sacrificed over by Kaity O'Brien, Kaidin Gauthier reached on an infield single to put runners on the corners. Worthington drove both runners with a long double to tie the game at 3-3 and the next hitter, Boyle, hit a ball way beyond the left-field fence to make it 5-3.

Essex cut the deficit to 5-4 when Molly Bruyns drove in Jamie Morin with a base hit in the top of the sixth, but MAU made it a two-run game when Emilie O'Brien singled, moved up on an error by the left fielder and came around on Dicranian line-drive double to center.

Mount Anthony finishes the season at 17-1 and Essex ends at 15-4 overall.

"It's been a privilege to coach these kids," Contrada said.

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