FARMINGDALE — Defense wins championships, the old adage goes, and nobody believes it more than the Hall-Dale softball team.

Behind the two-hitter tossed by Ashlynn Donahue on Saturday, the top-seeded Bulldogs posted their second shutout in as many postseason games this spring in an 8-0 dismantling of No. 4 Dirigo in the Class C South semifinals at Simmons Field. Senior catcher Zoe Soule went 3 for 4 with three RBIs and center fielder Marie Benoit went 2 for 3 with three RBIs of her own.

“We always want to get back there, that’s our end goal in any season in any sport we play,” Benoit said of her Hall-Dale squad (16-2), which is seeking a fourth straight state championship.

“It’s to get to the state game. That’s what we play for.”

Hall-Dale will play No. 3 Spruce Mountain in the C South final Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. at the University of Southern Maine.


A 61-minute weather delay in the top of the fourth inning didn’t do much to cool the Bulldogs, who plated a pair of runs in the home half of the fourth to double the lead to 4-0 before a four-spot in the fifth put things out of reach for Dirigo (13-5).

Benoit’s two-run single following a successful double steal chased two runs home in the fourth, while Soule’s second homer of the season punctuated the fifth.

“The fact we’ve been able to string things together and score all these runs is really great,” said Soule, noting the team had some offensive struggles early in the year. “As long as (the offense) is strong at the end of it, that’s all we care about.”

But the offense was only part of Saturday’s story.

Donahue was locked in from the first offering. She allowed only one baserunner through the first five innings — a two-out single in the second — and struck out nine without a walk. Donahue fanned the side in order, all on called third strikes, to power through the fifth.

Behind her, the Bulldog defense was stellar.


Second baseman Torie Tibbetts made a pair of running catches into foul territory in the fourth, while right fielder Karolyn Corso started the top of the seventh with a sensational grab on a ball looping away from her in right field.

“I do love playing defense,” Tibbetts said. “We’re pretty defensively strong. That’s our strong point. There’s games we cannot hit the ball, and we come out here and play defense and that motivates us to get it rolling and hitting.”

Through two playoff games in 2024, Hall-Dale has outscored the opponent 18-0. Last season, in their run to the Gold Ball, the Bulldogs gave up at least one run in all four of their postseason contests.

“I personally like not giving up a run,” Soule said. “I think it shows our defense is strong.”

Hall-Dale pushed single runs across in both the first and second innings to open the scoring.

In the first, it appeared Donahue had been cut down trying to stretch a two-out double into a triple. But following the umpires getting together, the initial out call at third was overturned. Two pitches later, Benoit laced a single up the middle for a 1-0 lead.

In the second, Coro scored on Soule’s fielder’s choice.

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