BREWER —The championship feeling is twice as nice for the Hall-Dale softball team.

A late offensive surge and strong combination of pitching from Ashlynn Donahue and Rita Benoit led the Bulldogs to a 5-1 win over Mattanawcook Academy in the Class C state championship game at Coffin Field on Saturday afternoon. It’s the second consecutive Class C title for the Bulldogs (19-0) and second title overall as a program.

“It’s so exciting,” said Benoit, a junior. “This is where we wanted to come and get to all year, just get back to where we were last year. It’s really exciting.”

“I’m just really happy for the group,” Hall-Dale head coach Steve Acedo added. “Especially the seniors, it’s what they were working hard for. Just to get back here, it’s not an easy challenge, and they did a fantastic job this year. We started off a little slow (Saturday), but we got it going when we needed to.”

Mattanawcook finished 19-2.

Sophomore catcher Zoe Soule led the offensive effort for Hall-Dale, going 3 for 4, with a double and an RBI. Senior first baseman Sammy Thornton was 2 for 3, with a double and an RBI.


“I’m usually a jittery, nervous mess (at the plate),” Soule said. “I was trying to calm myself down by watching a couple of pitches. The first couple of at-bats, you didn’t see that, and I was a little jittery. Then I started watching (pitches), and I fell into the rhythm.”

The Lynx took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Natalie Tash reached base on a fielder’s choice. She then came around to score after two errant throws an attempted steal of second base.

Hall-Dale made up for the mistake in the second inning, when Sammy Thornton — who clinched the Class C South title game on Tuesday with a game-winning sacrifice fly — plated Donahue on an RBI single to left field to tie the game 1-1.

“I just went out there and went, ‘I’m just going to give it everything I have, I have nothing to lose,” Thornton said. “I’d do anything to get it back up.”

Hall-Dale High School celebrates defeating Mattanawcook Academy 5-1 in the Class C state championship game Saturday at Coffin Field in Brewer. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

From that point forward, it was all Bulldogs.

Donahue kept the Lynx at bay over four innings, allowing three hits while striking out two, mixing up her fastball with a changeup and getting help from a strong defensive effort.


“After that first inning, I think everyone got their nerves in check,” said Donahue, a sophomore. “Then we finally got in check and just played our game.”

Donahue was relieved in the fifth by Benoit, who allowed no hits through three innings, striking out four and walking one.

“Ashlynn is a hard bar to come in and meet,” Benoit said. “I was shaking the entire time. I was under a lot of pressure, but I had all my girls behind me and knew if I just pitched (to the hitters) and jammed them, they could come out, catch balls and make plays in the field.”

“I was just reminding them to hit their spots, throw their spins, because that’s what really keeps hitters off,” Zoe Soule added. “The screwball was working really well. Rita’s (screwball) was working really well. I think that really helped her. The changeups for both were amazing, it gets (the hitters) off their feet.”

Hall-Dale’s Zoe Soule slides into second base on a double as Mattanawcook Academy’s Ereka LaDuke (1) tries to apply the tag in the Class C state championship game Saturday at Coffin Field in Brewer. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

The Bulldogs took a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning, when Donahue plated Tanley Tibbetts from third base on a sacrifice fly. Hall-Dale did its biggest offensive damage in the fifth. Thornton led off the inning with a double, followed by a double from Zoe Soule that one-hopped the fence to score Thornton. Moments later, Rita Benoit brought in Soule with a sacrifice fly for a 4-1 lead.

Hall-Dale added its fifth and final run in the seventh, when Lily Platt plated Zoe Soule on an RBI groundout.

It was the final game for five Hall-Dale players: Thornton, Platt, Emma Soule, Faith Alexander and Tanley Tibbetts. The Bulldogs will return most of its lineup next season, with both Donahue and Benoit returning in the circle.

“I don’t think there’s words to describe how great it is to be with this group,” Thornton said. “The 14 of us, I honestly wouldn’t have asked for any other people to finish my season out. This team has so much heart… I couldn’t think of a better way to end my season.”

“(The future) is going to be exciting,” Acedo said. “The freshmen are going to be pretty incredible themselves by the time they’re seniors, though I don’t think it’s going to take that long to show up in the conference. They’re ready to go now. They all contributed throughout the season… They stepped up, they were composed. It’s going to be exciting for Hall-Dale.”

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