STANDISH – The Fryeburg Academy softball team determined
months ago that if they gave enough, they’d ultimately reap some reward for that
effort.

That belief culminated in Saturday’s Class B state title. The
Raiders edged Medomak Valley in an exciting 2-1 win in eight innings at Ward
Field at Saint Joseph’s College.

“I’ve been playing softball since I was
in third grade with all of these girls,” said senior pitcher Hannah Hill. “That
was my last game for Fryeburg. It’s hitting me now. That’s it for me. It was
amazing to do it the first time and the second time is even better.”

The
Raiders become just the fourth team in Class B history to repeat as state
champs. Bucksport (1986, 1987), York (1988, 1989) and Winslow (2004, 2005) are
the others. Last year’s state title was a milestone victory for a program that
had risen from the cellar of Class B. This year was a chance to enjoy the
feeling once again, especially for the seniors in their last
year.

“They’re both sweet and to do it back-to-back is really great,”
said senior third baseman Tanya Randall. “To do it as a senior, it feels awesome
to end the year with a bang.”

There no doubt the Raiders were a team on
mission Saturday. Fryeburg is a fun group that interacts well with each other.
There were still smiles and laughs around the dugout but on the field there was
a serious facade had by all.

“I knew I wanted another state
championship,” said senior shortstop Ellen Head, who had a superb tournament in
the field. “I didn’t want to leave here the runners-up. A runner-up is still
pretty good, but we wanted to win it.”

To do that, the Raiders went into
the game with a fierce determination and strong will to win. You could see it on
the face of Hill when she battled out of a fifth inning jam. It was evident in
Randall’s hustle chasing after a foul ball that she caught. There was Head
making a fine backhanded stab of a sure single. Ariel McConkey’s resolve in the
clutch for the game-winning hit. There was the Raiders’ poise and presence as a
tie game tweaked the nerves with each passing moment.

One thing the
Raiders determined long ago was their effort was not going to be outdone by many
foes, and it was a commitment that drove the Raiders on Saturday. The Raiders
never flinched and never let down their effort.

“When we went to Florida,
we talked about coming off the field every single game knowing that if we all
gave everything we had, we were going to be happy,” said Fryeburg coach Fred
Apt. “I feel we did that all year long.”

That was the first thing that
crossed Hill’s mind when she stepped off the bus. Many of the Raiders knew
Saturday’s game was going to be their last. They also wanted it to be one of
their best.

“I got off the bus and looked at the field,” said Hill. “I
was like, ‘Alright, this is my last game. I can win it and be done or I can lose
it and be done. Either way, it’s going to be my last game.’ So, more or less, I
stepped on the field knowing that this was it no matter what. I wanted to leave
everything out there.”

The Raiders faced high expectations all season.
After winning the state crown a year ago and returning Hill and most of the
infield, Fryeburg was a preseason favorite.

“We never let that get to
us,” said Randall. “We always said, ‘Take it game by game.” We knew people were
going to be out for us. We just wanted to play our game and knew we’d be fine.
When we lost to Cape, that was okay. It was a good wake-up call. It got us
ready.”

The Raiders have faced the toughest of challenges since. They
beat Gray-New Gloucester twice and won the rematch with the Capers on the road
in the semifinal. Then came Saturday’s rematch with a hot-hitting Medomak
team.

“I knew I wanted to be able to really enjoy the bus ride home,
knowing that I played my hardest,” said Head. “I played my hardest, and I know
everyone else played their hardest. We were just leaving it on the field.”


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