The Red Storm never got fazed. Not after multiple postponements. Not after leaving three runners on base in the first inning. Not after falling behind early on. Not after having runners thrown out at the plate in each of the first two innings.

Instead, Scarborough did what it has done all season. It hit the ball, played good defense and got excellent pitching on its way to a 3-1 win over Skowhegan on June 24 in the Class A state softball championship at Coffin Field in Brewer.

“I’m flabbergasted by these kids and how consistent they’ve been all year,” said longtime Scarborough coach Tom Griffin, whose team finished 19-1. “They never lost their poise, never lost their confidence and never lost their love to practice and play together.

“They came out and they believed in themselves. They came back when we got behind. We had a great opportunity in the first inning. The kids never lost focus, never got frustrated. We got behind and they just kept plugging away.”

The Red Storm scored a pair of unearned runs in the fifth inning to break a 1-1 tie en route to its second state title in three seasons. The Eastern Maine champ Indians wrapped up their season at 20-2.

Heather Carrier reached on an error with one out in the fifth when her infield popup dropped between two Skowhegan fielders. She scored when the next hitter, Reegan Brackett, put down a textbook bunt that came to a stop in fair territory inches from the first base line – the ball’s progress perhaps slowed and kept fair by the infield dirt that remained moist even after loads of drying agent were put down to soak up the rainfall that forced the game’s postponement several times.

As Brackett hustled down the line, the throw to first sailed into right field, allowing Carrier to score what turned out to be the winning run. Brackett ended up on third and scored when the throw home on Catie Funk’s fielder’s choice grounder was too late.

Skowhegan had jumped ahead early, getting its lone run in the bottom of the first after Scarborough stranded the bases loaded and had a runner thrown out at the plate in the top of the inning. The Indians’ Anna Lorette reached on a two-out single up the middle, then scored on Sam Gray’s triple to deep right field.

“I don’t think we were ever worried because in that first inning, we hit (Skowhegan pitcher Rebecca McCarty),” Brackett said. “That’s a huge confidence booster for us. Whenever we can get around in the lineup early and just be able to make contact with the ball, that’s huge for us. It was a huge confidence booster to know that whoever came up, we were going to make contact. When you make contact, good things happen.”

Scarborough came out swinging. Carrier led off the game with a single to left field. After a sacrifice by Brackett, Funk singled. Carrier was thrown out at the plate on a fielder’s choice. Abby Rutt singled to load the bases, but McCarty induced a grounder back to the mound to escape harm.

After Skowhegan took a 1-0 lead, Scarborough No. 9 hitter Bri Mancuso tripled to left past the dive of an Indian outfielder with two outs in the second. She tried to stretch the hit into an in-the-park home run, but was thrown out at the plate by several steps.

“We’ve been aggressive all year,” Griffin said. “We didn’t change a thing that we’ve been doing all year. We tried to be aggressive at the plate all year, aggressive on the bases. When we have an opportunity to score, we’re going to try to capitalize on it.”

Mo Hannan tied the game for the Storm in the fourth. She singled, stole second, then scored on a controversial play that drew the Skowhegan coaches from the dugout. Abbey Pelletier hit a chopper to Indian shortstop Whitney Jones. As Hannan headed to third, she and Jones made contact. The ball got past Jones and into the outfield. Hannan headed for home and went around the tag of the catcher to slide in for the equalizer. The umpire ruled that Hannan neither interfered with the shortstop nor went out of the baselines to avoid the tag.

Hannan, Scarborough’s pitcher, said scoring that run helped her settle in on the mound.

“It pumped me up a lot,” the freshman hurler said. “I just came out harder and harder.”

After allowing the run in the first inning, Hannan, who hadn’t surrendered a run in Scarborough’s three wins in the Western Maine tournament, was splendid. She struck out the side in the second and allowed only two hits the rest of the way, finishing with nine Ks.

“Mo just controls everything,” said Funk, one of three senior captains, along with Brackett and Mancuso. “She doesn’t really get worked up. She doesn’t let the pressure get under her skin. She just stays cool and does what she does best. She knows we’ll be right behind her to field it.”

The Storm defense was superb, not only making the routine plays, but also taking hits away from Skowhegan. Funk and Mancuso both made excellent plays to close out the fifth inning, then Funk made a diving play and threw to first for an out to end the sixth.

“Without our defense behind me we wouldn’t have won,” said Hannan. “They made some great plays out there.”

Hannan used her glove to help her cause in the third, snaring a liner back to the mound, then throwing to second to double the runner off to end the inning.

During the regular season, Hannan shared time on the mound with junior Melissa Dellatorre, an SMAA first team all-star. Hannan had the hot hand at the end of the season and got the ball in the playoffs.

“Melissa Dellatorre took a back seat in the playoffs, but she was ready to go,” Griffin said. “She just had such a wonderful attitude about her. I can’t say enough about kids like that.”

Griffin said a major key to the championship was that everyone put the team first, from the starters on down the bench.

“Jenna Libby is a senior,” Griffin said. “She knew she wasn’t going to get any playing time, but she led our cheerleading. She was the heart of this team. She wasn’t on the field, but she was the heart of the team. She had the spirit, she had the voice that encouraged. Everybody on this team played their role. Whether it was on the field or off the field, they played it perfectly. This is a special group.”

The game was originally scheduled for noon on June 20 in Augusta. It was then pushed back four hours before eventually being moved to June 22 in Brewer. As the rain continued to fall, it was moved to June 23, then June 24. It didn’t bother the Storm.

“We’ve come to play every day, then it gets moved back,” Funk said. “We had a feeling it might be today and we came ready to play. On the bus ride we thought we were going to take naps and everything, but we were really pumped up and we were ready to play as soon as we got here. It definitely helped us out this game.”

The underclassmen had to also deal with finals during the week, finishing up the last day just before jumping on the bus to Brewer.

Practice on the days of the postponements helped the team stay loose.

“We’ve been playing games to keep us in shape, but also to have fun and keep us loose,” Funk said. “We played kickball one day, then we played some hitting games, so it’s been a lot of fun at practice.”

Capturing the title provided redemption for the Storm, which didn’t lose last season until the Western Maine finals, when it fell to Biddeford. Biddeford also handed Scarborough its only loss of this regular season.

“It was bittersweet last year,” Brackett said. “It was a tough thing to swallow, to lose when we were that good. We knew coming back this year that we were going to be just as good. We got that loss out of the way early this season. This is really special.”

The Storm also topped Skowhegan for the 2007 state championship, 2-0.

Scarborough graduates six seniors from the team: Funk, Brackett, Mancuso, Pelletier, Libby and Emily Norton. That will certainly leave some big shoes to fill, but the program will likely be right back in the mix next season.

“We have a lot of young talent and I think the experience of the playoffs will help them next year and they’ll be just as strong,” Funk said. “I think they’ll have a good year next year.”


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