SOUTH PORTLAND – Olivia Whitten has, according to South Portland High softball coach Ralph Aceto, one of the sweetest swings on the team. Which made her midseason slump all the more puzzling to him.

After hitting for her late in the season, Aceto returned Whitten to the batting order for the Western Class A playoffs. And Saturday she rewarded his faith.

Whitten had three hits, including a two-run triple in the third inning, to spark the second-ranked Riots to a 7-4 victory over No. 3 Kennebunk in the regional semifinals at the Wainwright Sports Complex.

Whitten’s triple highlighted a five-run third inning that gave the Riots a 6-0 lead.

“I couldn’t be happier for her,” said Aceto. “She struggled but she worked hard. That was a big hit for us.”

The Riots (17-1) will face top-ranked Scarborough in the regional championship game at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at St. Joseph’s College, a rematch of last year’s final won by the Red Storm, 2-0. Scarborough also beat the Riots 5-0 this year, as well as 3-0 in the SMAA championship game.

“We’ve just got to get over the hump and put the ball in play,” said Aceto. “We’ll see what happens.”

South Portland beat Kennebunk 16-1 in the second game of the regular season, but knew that wasn’t an indication of how well the Rams could play.

“We knew this would be much different,” said Aceto. “I didn’t expect what we saw from Kennebunk in that first game. That surprised me. This game didn’t.”

Kennebunk pitcher Kelly King was ill for the first game and didn’t play. She gave the Rams a strong chance in this one, but the Riots got to her in the third.

Leading 1-0, South Portland had two on with one out when Alexis Bogdanovich singled in a run with a line drive to left. Amanda Linscott followed with a looping double to left, scoring one run for a 3-0 lead. After an out, Whitten drove the ball into the right-center gap for a two-run triple.

“While I was at bat, all I was thinking was, ‘There they are, I’ve got to bring them in,’ ” said Whitten. “I was happy to get that hit. I was happy to help the team.”

Whitten scored on a single by Erin Bogdanovich for a 6-0 lead.

Kennebunk (14-4) got two in the fourth on back-to-back RBI doubles by Hannah King and Kelsey Livermore, but Erin Bogdanovich had an RBI single in the fifth to regain the momentum.

“I’m proud of the way the kids played,” said Rams Coach Steph Coleman. “The first time we came here was an absolute disaster. We had that one bad inning (Saturday). But (the Riots) are a good hitting team. And Alexis (Bogdanovich) is a wonderful pitcher.”

Kennebunk got a run in the sixth when Janelle Bouchard doubled and scored on an error, and another in the seventh on a Bouchard RBI single. But Bogdanovich worked out of further trouble in both innings.

“I was just trying to take it one batter at a time,” she said. “And I was hitting my spots.”

 

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

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