STANDISH — It didn't take long for Leandra Martin to send a message Thursday night.
When the Richmond senior pitcher fanned the first five batters she faced, the Rangeley Lakers knew in no uncertain terms that Martin was on her game.
Martin had lost the last outing she pitched against the Lakers to finish the regular season. She had been hoping for another opportunity to prove herself.
"It really wasn't a good game for us at all," Richmond coach Rick Coughlin said of the 9-5 loss to Rangeley to end the regular season. "I knew she wanted this one for a little revenge, let them know she could pitch. She came through. She pitched very well."
Martin struck out 11 and allowed just one hit as her Bobcats claimed a third straight Western D championship with a 4-1 win over the Lakers. Richmond will face Penobscot Valley for the Class D state title at Coffin Field in Brewer on Saturday.
Taylor Esty had the lone hit for Rangeley. The Lakers couldn't muster much offense, despite four Richmond errors. Rangely got its lone run thanks to three miscues in the seventh.
"We just couldn't get the bats going," Rangeley coach Ashley Quimby said. "That was our biggest struggle. We got them going a little too late in the end. We just couldn't get that one big hit to get things going our way."
Richmond (16-1) beat the Lakers (13-4) early in the regular season, 10-0. The Bobcats then won the first game of a doubleheader at the end of the season, 14-0. In the second game, Coughlin had intended to have Jamie Plummer pitch but because of wet conditions and a quick start time, he didn't feel Plummer had proper time to warm up. Martin pitched the second game as well and lost, 9-5.
"We were very confident," said Quimby. "This is a confident group of girls. We came in her knowing we could beat them, but today wasn't our day."
Having pitched all three games against the Lakers, and having a little bit of a chip on her shoulder, Martin was ready for Rangeley.
"From the beginning of the season, I've gotten a lot stronger," said Martin. "I was just feeling really warm. I pitched against them before and knew I had to mix it up and hit my spots."
Richmond got the first run in the bottom of the second. Ciarra Lancaster singled and Alyssa Pearson walked to create the first threat of the game for either team. Both runners advanced on a passed ball. When Martin put down a bunt in front of the plate, Rangeley fielded it and only glanced at Lancaster heading for the plate. Carrier threw to first to get the out while Lancaster scored.
Rangeley used some nice plays in the field to stay within reach. Emily Carrier had a nice play at short. Abby Abbott made a leaping catch at second. Rangeley even squelched a threat when Richmond had a pair of hits in the fourth. The Lakers nailed Lindsy Hoopingarner trying to take third on a Pearson hit.
"We did just what we wanted to do defensively," said Quimby. "We kept the ball in front of us, and we didn't have many errors."
Rangeley couldn't produce the offense to answer the Richmond run. Esty had the only Laker hit in the fourth. She was stranded at second. The Lakers got Abby Abbott on to lead the fifth on a Richmond error. Martin got back-to-back strike outs and a ground out to third to end that inning.
Richmond opened the lead in the fifth. The Bobcats took advantage of a Rangeley error and had a pair of hits to make it 4-0.
"We're not hitting like I'd like to but if we get people on, we can bunt," said Coughlin. "You better be able to defend it."
Payton Johnson led off with a single and Noell Acord walked. Plummer singled up the middle of a drawn-in infield to make it 2-0. An error on a Danica Hurley bunt scored Acord. After a strike out, Hoopingarner had another bunt that Rangeley opted to first on while Plummer scored.
Rangeley got its lone run in the seventh. Blayke Morin reached on an error. She advanced on another error on a pick-off attempt. She took third on a fielder's choice, the second out of the inning. Then Sandra Campbell hit a grounder to third that would likely have gone foul. The attempt at first was thrown away allowing Morin to score. Campbell took third on the miscue. Martin served up a grounder to second to finish the game.
It was Richmond's 10th straight Western D final, giving the Bobcats a bit of a home field advantage.
"That's the first time in Rangeley history that we made it to the Western Maine championships," said Quimby. "That in itself is a change for us. I think it's great for the girls to get a chance to play here. I'm happy with how the girls played."