STANDISH – What may have appeared as the start of something good was actually the beginning of the end for the Richmond softball team Thursday.

Buckfield spotted the Bobcats a run early, but shut the door the rest of the way in a 5-1 Western Maine Class D championship win at Ward Field at Saint Joseph’s College.

The victory sends the Bucks to Brewer for Saturday’s state championship game against Lee Academy.

“It feels great, since it’s my senior year,” said first baseman Shayna Shackford. “The past two years have been rough for us, and we finally got our stuff together. I think people were nervous about beating Richmond three times in a row. I’m glad we finally beat them when it counts.”

After wins of 2-0 and 5-0 in the regular season, in which the Bobcats managed just one hit total between the two games, the Bucks came into Thursday’s rematch expecting a reversal of fortune against the two-time defending champs.

“People would say that you can’t beat a team three times,” said Buckfield coach Ken Farrington. “We just said that it’s hard to be Class D champions three times. It works both ways. We tried to stay focused on our game. We knew if we came in here and did what we do, they’d have to beat us.”

Though Richmond (13-4) got the early run, the Bucks quickly seized the momentum in the bottom of the first with two runs. From there, the Bucks rode the pitching of Desiree Brackett and the defense behind her.

After the unearned run in the first inning, Brackett allowed just two other hits the rest of the way. She walked none and struck out two.

The Bucks also got fine play in the field. Alyssa Henderson made a nice running catch on a Tracy Leonard hit to center. Kasey Farrington at third, shortstop Lindsey Neal and second baseman Deanna Lavoie gave Brackett plenty of support in the infield.

“Desiree has confidence in the field behind her,” said Farrington. “We’re a good defensive team. That’s what we’ve done all year. She doesn’t overthrow. She’ll throw strikes, and we’ll play it.”

Shelby Hurley reached on an error and Katie Cray singled. When a grounder by Kasey Hughes was mishandled, Hurley scored. That was the extent of the threat. Brackett nailed Cray at the plate with a nice relay to catcher Tiffany Dunn. She got out of the inning with a strikeout of Nicole Tuttle with two runners on.

“We had second and third and two out and had one of our better hitters up,” said Richmond coach Rick Coughlin. “She struck out. That was a key play. If we had scored more, it would have been different.”

in the bottom of the inning, Buckfield loaded the bases and Brackett singled in Dunn. Neal followed with a bases loaded walk for a 2-1 lead.

“It definitely set the tone for us,” said Dunn. “After that, we just got rolling and played softball like we know how to play.”

The Bucks (15-1) added an unearned run in the third. Farrington reached on an error and advanced on a wild pitch. She scored on a nice squeeze bunt by Brackett. Brackett and Farrington each had two hits.

“I was kind of nervous about bunting,” said Brackett. “I knew I had to do it because we needed that run.”

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