The Lisbon softball team won the 1990 Class B state title over Maine Central Institute to cap an undefeated season. The Greyhounds ordered championship jackets, which Angel Tibbetts still has today. Submitted photo

Editor’s note: This is the 21st installment of our new series, “Remember When,” in which we revisit some of the memorable games, events, streaks and runs in high school spring sports we’ve covered over the last few decades.

Time being what it is, Angel Gamache Tibbetts needed to open her scrapbook to refresh memories of the 1990 Class B state championship softball game.

“Apparently, I was kind of a catalyst,” said Tibbetts, the starting catcher for Lisbon in that game.

Tibbetts — Lisbon’s cleanup hitter and a senior co-captain with Jenn Bowie Merrill — had three hits and drove in five runs to help the Greyhounds take a 20-16 win over Maine Central Institute that day at the University of Maine’s Lengyel Field.

Yes, 20-16. It was a score more likely to be seen at a football game. With 36 combined runs scored, the 1990 Class B championship is the highest-scoring softball state championship game in state history. Next closest is the 1978 Class C final, won by Searsport over Madison, 17-14.

When she was holding the trophy over her head after the game, Merrill didn’t care what the score was, or that the game had taken a marathon 3 hours and 17 minutes to complete.

“We’d always thought we’d like to be (state champs), but York was always in the mix, and Marshwood, too,” said Merrill, who played softball at the University of Maine for two seasons and is now a first grade teacher at Marcia Buker Elementary School in Richmond.

They Greyhounds didn’t enter the season with championship expectations. Lisbon was a young team learning varsity softball on the job.

“We had lost in the playoffs the year before, and only had two seniors and two juniors on the team. We had two freshmen in the starting lineup. I don’t think anybody thought state championship,” said Tibbetts, who played softball at UMaine and is now a third grade teacher in Lisbon.

The victory ensured the Greyhounds were the only undefeated Maine high school softball team in 1990. To earn that distinction, Lisbon had to rally to beat a strong MCI team that entered the game at 16-2.

The Greyhounds came out strong, scoring four runs in the top of the first inning to take a 4-0 lead. Lisbon had hit well all season, scoring 10 or more runs 14 times in 19 games leading into the state championshinp, including 11 and 13 in Western Maine playoff wins over Wells and York.

“A lot of games, we only played five innings, because we were up 12 runs,” Merill, the center fielder, said.

Added Tibbetts: “When the season started out, we had some close games… We did score a lot of runs that year.”

The Huskies were not intimidated by the slugging Greyhounds, and answered Lisbon’s early rally with 11 runs over the first three innings to take an 11-4 lead. Sophomore pitcher Andrea Gamrat, who brought a 10-0 record into the game for Lisbon, struggled with control early. Gamrat walked 10 MCI hitters and allowed eight runs in two-plus innings.

“We were down 11-4 and I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, we’re going to lose,'” Merrill said.

Big game jitters appeared to hit both teams. Lisbon and MCI combined for 10 errors and 32 walks, uncharacteristic poor play from both. MCI starting pitcher Becky Vaughan, a freshman, walked 12 Greyounds, with seven scoring.

“The way we played, I think the pressure bothered us,” MCI coach Carl Jones said after the game. “When you score 16 runs and lose, you know there’s something wrong.”

MCI needed to capitalize on Lisbon errors and walks, with just five hits in the game, including two from catcher Stephanie Shaw, who hit over .550 for the season. The Huskies let too many opportunities slip away, however, stranding the bases loaded four times to end innings.

That left Lisbon an opening, and the Greyhounds chipped away at the deficit. Lisbon scored one run in the fourth inning, then added four runs in the fifth to cut MCI’s lead to 11-9. The Huskies scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth to push the lead back to 14-9. Four Lisbon errors in the fifth inning, along with two walks and a wild pitch, gave the Huskies some breathing room.

This press clipping shows a photo of a play from the 1990 Class B softball title game between MCI and Lisbon. Submitted photo

“We didn’t make errors often in the regular season. I think we had a lot of nerves,” Tibbetts said.

Lisbon continued to hit in the top of the sixth, scoring four more runs to pull within a run, 14-13. Tibbetts’ two-run single was the big hit of the inning. Lisbon had 18 hits in the game, but in the pivotal seven-run rally in the top of the seventh inning, the Greyhounds took advantage of MCI’s control issues. Lisbon took six walks in the seventh inning, with a few big hits sprinkled in. Bobbie Freve hit a double for Lisbon, which took the field in the bottom of the seventh with a 20-14 lead.

“We poked away for runs. We managed to pull it out,” Tibbetts said.

The Huskies scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh, but stranded a runner at third when Freve, pitching in relief of Gamrat, got a strikeout to end the game.

Merrill credited coach Charlene Bennett, with keeping the Greyhounds calm when they were down early. Bennett always stressed to her team to not focus on what the opponent was doing, but on what it could do better, Merrill said.

“She was the best coach I ever had,” Merrill said.

In 2019, Lisbon won the Class C baseball state championship. On the team were Jack Tibbetts, son of Angel, and Noah Austin, the son of Traci Withers Austin, a junior on the state championship softball team in 1990.

 

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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