Westbrook Coach Mike Rutherford is counting on his team to fall back on its championship experience when it plays Biddeford for the Western Class A title today.

Several of the Blue Blazes have already played on championship teams. The core of the team played in the Little League World Series in 2005, won three Babe Ruth titles and played for the Western Class A title two years ago as freshmen.

Now, many of the Blue Blazes’ top players are juniors. But Rutherford also hopes they embrace the urgency of the situation. The Blue Blazes haven’t won a state championship since 1951, and Rutherford admits that the pressure is on.

“I don’t want these kids to wait until next year,” Rutherford said. “The key for me is for them not to think, oh, we’ve got our senior year.”

So, in essence, the time is now.

Westbrook, the No. 4 seed, will face No. 8 Biddeford at 7 tonight at St. Joseph’s College in Standish — one of eight regional championships today in baseball and softball.

In other baseball finals, Oxford Hills plays Brewer for the Eastern Class A championship at Morton Field in Augusta, Dirigo faces St. Dom’s for the Western Class C title at St. Joseph’s, and Calais faces Penobscot Valley for the Eastern Class C title at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor.

In softball, Scarborough faces South Portland for the Western Class A title at St. Joseph’s, Skowhegan plays Bangor for the Eastern Class A championship at Cony High in Augusta, Telstar meets Georges Valley for the Western Class C title at St. Joseph’s, and Woodland faces George Stevens Academy in the Eastern Class C final at Brewer High.

The regional championships continue Wednesday, with four games each in baseball and softball.

Cape Elizabeth plays for its second Western Class B baseball title in three years Wednesday and will face Yarmouth, which is seeking its first trip to the Class B state finals. The Clippers won Class C championships in 1991, 1994 and 1995.

“It means we get to play another day, and that’s what it’s all about,” Cape Coach Chris Hayward said Saturday after a 4-3 win over Greely in eight innings. “You play each game to win it, and you try to progress.”

The Western Class A baseball final between Westbrook and Biddeford is the culmination of an unusual season in which every team in lost at least five games, but 11 of the 16 teams finished at .500 or better.

“It was such an open league,” Rutherford said. “Any of the eight teams (that qualified for the playoffs) could have won it this year.

“We played Biddeford (on May 11) and beat them 4-1, and they gave us all we could handle. The coach has done a (great) job down there, and we’re not taking them lightly.

“They call themselves a ‘Cinderella’ team, but they deserve to be here.”

 

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at:

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