Oxford Hills pitcher Lauren Merrill gathers with teammates to shake hands after the game as Scarborough celebrates in the background after winning the Class A state championship Saturday. (Brewster Burns photo)
STANDISH — Scarborough softball coach Tom Griffin knew his team would eventually start hitting, but he didn’t think it would take so long.
The Red Storm batters made up for lost time, though, connecting on 11 hits to score 11 runs in the bottom of the sixth and finish the Class A state championship an inning early with a 12-0 victory over Oxford Hills at Richard W. Bailey Field on Saturday.
Scarborough (20-0), the defending Class A state champ, had mustered just two hits against Oxford Hills (16-4) starting pitcher Lauren N. Merrill through the first five innings. The Red Storm did score the game’s first run with one of those two hits (a Felicia O’Reilly single in the third), combined with a sacrifice bunt and two errors.
“I think she was doing just good movement with the ball, good placement, and then they just kind of timed it up, and then they started hitting, and then, you know, you make a couple errors,” Vikings coach Cindy Goddard said.
The Red Storm finally got to Merrill the third time through the order. No. 9 hitter Emily Jefferds who started the offensive outburst in the sixth.
“We are really good at communication, and once someone goes in the dugout, good or bad outcome, they told me that she was kind of getting tired, and slowing down a little bit,” said Jefferds, who struck out her first at-bat. “They also told me that it was first-pitch strike, so that’s what I looked for right away, and it was, and it helped me tremendously.”
Jefferds led off th inning with a single to right, then gave way to pinch-runner Mollie Verreault. Bella Dickinson followed with a single, then Laura Powell doubled in Verreault. Chloe Griffin walked to load the bases, and Hunter Greenleaf, Sam Carreiro and Lindsey Kelley all had RBI singles before O’Reilly popped out for the first out.
Courtney Brochu singled in two more runs, knocking out Merrill (nine hits, two strikeouts, one walk), and Jefferds singled in two more against reliever Sydney Crocker. Dickinson singled, and Powell flied out for the second out. Then Griffin doubled off the outfield wall to score two runs, and Greenleaf’s single drove in Griffin to end the game.
“We were able to square up the ball a little bit better as we were going on, and once we got something rolling, our kids are dangerous. It’s contagious,” Griffin said. “This has been our M.O. all year. Once we get a lead, and get a couple runs in, things just steam-roll from there.”
The Vikings were the ones hitting the ball early in the game, but those hits were nowhere to be found once runners got into scoring position. Oxford Hills left seven runners on base in the first four innings, including five in scoring position. The bases were left loaded in the second.
“You’re just waiting for like, ‘We’re hitting, we’re getting contact,’ like you’re just waiting for that one time that someone’s going to come up with the hit that’s going to score a run, and just kind of change the tide, or just get on the board, and that didn’t happen today,” Goddard said.
The Vikings had lead-off hits in three of the first four innings (Ashley Childs single in first, Merrill double in second, Kaisa Heikkinen single in fourth), but Griffin was locked in with two outs and the Red Storm defense played stout.
“The girls know they can handle anything. Nothing surprises them. Nothing was going to rattle them,” Griffin said. “Again, they just know how to handle themselves, and they just didn’t panic. They didn’t panic. And one of the things we try to do is make sure that we don’t make a mistake. We were ready to give up a run if we had to, just to keep the game close, because we know that we can score runs.”
Griffin scattered six hits and two walks while striking out six.
Scarborough celebrates after scoring the final run to win the Class A state championship Saturday. (Brewster Burns photo)Scarborough pitcher Chloe Griffin delivers a pitch midway through the Class A state championship Saturday. (Brewster Burns photo)Scarbrorough third baseman Emily Jefferds goes up to get a soft liner during the Class A state championship Saturday. (Brewster Burns photo)Oxford Hills third baseman Kenzie Kahkonen throws to first to get an out during the Class A state championship Saturday. (Brewster Burns photo)Oxford Hills pitcher Lauren Merrill watches her pitch approach the batter during the Class A state championship Saturday. (Brewster Burns photo)Oxford Hills pitcher Lauren Merrill prepares to throw to first base to make and out during the Class A state championship Saturday. (Brewster Burns photo)Oxford Hills shortstop Kaisa Heikkinen throws to first base druing the Class A state championship Saturday. (Brewster Burns photo)With Scarborough players lining up on the third base line, Oxford Hills players await the presentation of the runners-up trophy after the Class A state championship game Saturday. (Brewster Burns photo)Scarborough celebrates after scoring their final run to end the game and win the Class A state championship as Oxford Hills players gather in the foreground to line up for the post game handshake. (Brewster Burns photo)