Three rivalries renewed and a returning champ against a return to the championship.

Yes, the eight teams playing in Saturday’s softball state championships are all familiar names. The longest state final drought for any of the eight teams is a mere five years. Five of the eight teams were in state finals last year, with one of the matchups a rematch.

“(It takes) commitment, dedication and a little luck,” Madison coach Chris LeBlanc said of reaching a state championship, let alone multiple finals. “Success breeds success.”

Class A

It’s a little surprising that Scarborough and Skowhegan haven’t met in the Class A state final since 2013. The Red Storm have been the No. 1 seed in the South every year since 2012, and the Indians have been in the North regional final every year but one since that 2013 encounter, including two state championship appearances.

That rivalry will finally be renewed at Cony Family Field in Augusta on Saturday. It will be the fourth meeting in the state final since 2007, with the Indians looking for their first win in the series.

That long-awaited victory in the matchup could come this year. The North No. 1 Indians (17-2) have the KVAC Class A Player of the Year in junior pitcher Ashley Alward, as well as first-team all-conference selection Sydney Ames as a No. 2 pitcher who could be a No. 1 on both teams. Skowhegan also has motivation from losing last year’s state championship to Biddeford. However, KVAC Class A Coach of the Year Lee Johnson has a team that may be experienced, but is also young, without a senior on the roster.

Biddeford also ended the Red Storm’s hopes of reaching last year’s state final, edging Scarborough in the South final. This year the South No. 1 Red Storm (19-0) boasts a 1-2 punch of senior pitchers in Lilly Volk (a Miss Maine Softball finalist) and Abbie Murrell. They’ve kept opposing offenses at bay, allowing more than three runs just once, including 11 shutouts. Three of those blankings came in a row before Portland put up three runs on Scarborough in the South final.

The offense, meanwhile, scored at least eight runs in each regular season game, and a season-low five runs were scored in a regional semifinal against Windham.

Class B

The way this year’s state championship matchups materialized, a half decade is a long time to not make the final day of the season. But that’s the kind of “drought” that Fryeburg Academy has faced. And fittingly, the Raiders will be facing the same Old Town program that shut off the flow of finals appearances that Fryeburg made from 2008-2012.

“I’m happy for these guys to be back,” Fryeburg coach Fred Apt said. “I tell them ‘I’ve been there before. I’ve won. I’ve lost. But this is for you.’ I’m just happy as heck for them, and I’m proud of them.”

Neither team was guaranteed to make it to Bailey Field at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish, where the championship will be handed out on Saturday, but neither is much of a surprise either. The Coyotes (17-2) were the No. 2 seed in the North, the Raiders (16-3) the No. 3 seed in the South.

Old Town is looking to make it two state titles in a row after beating York, the Coyotes’ first championship since the 2012 meeting with Fryeburg. The Coyotes made it to Saturday’s final thanks to a 1-0 victory in eight innings over Oceanside. Junior Mckenna Smith tossed a two-hitter for Old Town in the win.

Senior Nicole Bennett wasn’t as unhittable for the Raiders against South top seed Wells, but the Fryeburg bats woke up at the end to knock off the Warriors for the second time this season. That offense is led by the star senior trio of Bennett, Mackenzie Buzzell and Makayla Cooper, as well as a younger roster around them.

Class C

For the second year in a row Madison and Bucksport will vie for the Class C crown, with the Bulldogs looking for a repeat and their third title in four years. The Golden Bucks will be gunning for both revenge and a second title in three years.

These two teams also met for the 2013 title, with Bucksport winning its second title in a row.

The South top seed Bulldogs (18-1) boast first-team MVC all-conference selections in senior pitcher Madeline Wood and juniors Whitney Bess and Sydney LeBlanc.

North No. 1 Bucksport (19-0) can counter with senior pitcher Madysen Robichaud, who is a Miss Maine Softball finalist and the PVC Class C Player of the Year.

Of the Golden Bucks, LeBlanc said: “We know we will be playing a very good team that is well-coached, fundamentally sound and has a tradition of their own. We know they have pitching, hitting and know how to win. We will need to play our best game of the season in order to defeat them.”

Class D

It has been proven that it takes more than a team’s best game to beat Richmond. The Bobcats are one win away from their fifth straight state title, as well as an 89th win in a row.

The last team to beat Richmond: Penobscot Valley in the the 2012 state final.

The team the South No. 1 Bobcats (18-0) will be playing in Saturday’s Class D state championship game: Penobscot Valley.

The Howlers (19-0), the second seed in the North despite an undefeated regular season, needed an extra inning to beat top-seeded Southern Aroostook in the regional final. Freshman pitcher Leine McKechnie struck out 19 batters in the win to boost her season total over 200.

She might need to do the same against Richmond junior Sydney Underhill-Tilton, who has been homering off pitchers all season.

Penobscot Valley is in the state final since a 2013 loss to Richmond. Revenge or repeat will take place at St. Joe’s on Saturday.

Softball on white
Softball ball isolated on white background
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Softball ball isolated on white background

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