The final day of the Western Class A softball season Tuesday was not without drama, especially for two teams. Westbrook High and Massabesic of Waterboro, two programs struggling for respectability the last several years, went into it in a tight race for the final playoff berth.

The teams were playing fewer than 10 miles apart Tuesday night — the Mustangs against Windham at St. Joseph’s College, Westbrook at home to Thornton Academy.

Only one team would get in.

“We knew if we won we’d probably get in,” said Massabesic Coach Bruce Norton. “But we also knew there were a couple of other factors. Thornton had to win and Noble had to win (against Gorham). And everything kind of worked out for us.”

The Mustangs won, beating Windham 4-2. Noble edged Gorham, 7-6. Thornton toppled Westbrook, 11-3.

“The top thing was, and I told the girls this, was that we had to win our game, no matter what,” said Norton. “Then the rest fell into place.”

After Massabesic won, Norton’s girls started making phone calls to find out the other scores. Norton said he found out about 9 p.m. that his team was in. Both teams finished 6-10, but the Mustangs had a 3.1250 edge in Heal points.

And the prize? A preliminary-round game with rival Sanford next week.

“Right next door,” said Norton. “Next town over. Everything’s close. Should be a good crowd. Should be a good game.”

Over in Westbrook, Coach Mel Craig didn’t want to know how the Mustangs had done earlier.

She knew even though her team had the edge going into the final day, nothing was settled.

“I told the girls that it didn’t matter what anyone else did,” she said. “What we did (against Thornton) was in our hands. It’s not about what anyone else does.”

While Craig was disappointed that the Blazes missed a playoff spot by percentage points, she came away with a good feeling.

“Hey, if you had asked me two months ago, there wouldn’t have even been a playoff question,” she said. “Going forward, I think Westbrook softball is now a recognized and respected program. The girls stepped out and played with pride. It was just hard work.

“The community noticed. But most important for the girls, their competitors are noticing.”

Both programs enjoyed a renaissance this year.

Westbrook had won only six games the previous three seasons. Massabesic was coming off back-to-back three-win seasons.

This year both had players step up. Massabesic was led by slick-fielding shortstop Emily Schatz, who also had some huge hits down the stretch. Sophomores Kassidy Hill and Regan Adams also came through.

“We’re just hoping this will help our numbers a little (next year),” said Norton. “Softball tends to take a hit from lacrosse and track. If you have a season like this, you hope you can keep things rolling.”

At Westbrook, seniors Lindsey Driscoll, Katelyn Benson and Kayla Doiron set a high standard.

“They wanted to make a statement this year,” said Craig. “And they did. Now I think our young ones are ready. It’s going to be nice to be part of it.” 

GEORGES VALLEY is closing, merging with Rockland to become the Oceanside High Mariners next fall, but the Buccaneers have some unfinished business.

After losing in the regional final last year, they want to close their school in style. Georges Valley (14-0) is ranked second in Western Class C behind its Mountain Valley Conference rival, Telstar.

“We’ve always made it a practice, we discuss the Gold Ball from the first practice on, we want to make it part of our tradition,” said Coach Rusty Worcester, who also will coach Oceanside. “But with all the closure of the school and the final season, the girls really want to close it on a super high note.”

Well, the Buccaneers have had a nice run — 61 consecutive regular-season victories dating to June 2007. “Yeah, we closed out the school with that record,” said Worcester.

Worcester has a nice problem heading into the playoffs: who to pitch? Sophomore Rachel Frye and junior Jill Bradbury have rotated between pitching and first base all season. Worcester isn’t sure how he will handle it, but he’s glad to have that issue.

Georges Valley and Telstar will play in the MVC championship game at 5 p.m. Monday at UMaine-Farmington.

THE SMAA championships will be held Saturday at Scarborough High, featuring the top four teams in the Heal point standings: South Portland, Scarborough, McAuley and Thornton Academy. The semifinals will begin at 10 a.m., followed by lunch, then the championship game.

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

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Twitter: MikeLowePPH