State championships will be decided in four classes of high school softball today. The games will likely be pressure-packed, each pitch taking on added significance, each at-bat a possible game-changer.

So what were the coaches of the Class A and B teams talking about Friday? Having fun.

“We have a lot of fun,” said Fryeburg Academy Coach Fred Apt. “We really do. The kids are always loose.

“But they know when it’s time to work. We work in practice, we go play a game, and at the end of the day, it’s all fun.

“I think most of the kids who have played softball at Fryeburg will say they’ve had a great experience. And not just because of the winning.”

The Raiders have become pretty good at winning. When they play Old Town in the Class B state championship game at 4 p.m. today at Brewer High, it will mark their fifth consecutive appearance in the state final. Their record over the last five years is 94-5, with three state championships.

But it’s the same at South Portland, where Coach Ralph Aceto has brought together a relatively young team and molded it into a Western Class A champion — by letting the players have fun.

“You have people all the time telling you how to coach and how to build a program,” said Aceto, who guided South Portland to a state championship two years ago. “The thing is, you’ve got to handle each group differently. And this group is more different than any team I’ve ever had.

“I’ve had teams that came in and knew what they were there for, who came to work every day, put in their time at practice and in the offseason. This group, is just different I mean, they’re a lot of fun to be around.”

South Portland, which came out of the West as the No. 3 seed and beat No. 2 Thornton Academy and No. 1 Scarborough back-to-back, will take on undefeated Cony of Augusta at St. Joseph’s College at 3 p.m.

Cony Coach Rocky Gaslin wants his team to be ready, but also to have fun.

“They’ve got to be loose,” he said. “When you’re tight, it’s hard to swing the bat.”

And then there’s Eastern Class B champ Old Town, making its first appearance in a state title game. First-year head coach Jenn Plourde said her team has made great progress through the playoffs, including a win on the road over top-seeded Oceanside.

But against the Raiders, she said, “We’re preparing as if it’s just another game. I’m trying to make sure the girls don’t get caught up with everything else that is going on.”

The A and B championship games should be interesting.

South Portland (17-2) takes a 16-game winning streak into its game against the Rams (19-0), riding the left arm of junior Erin Bogdanovich and timely contributions from everyone in the batting order. The Riots have exceptional strength up the middle, with catcher Sam DiBiase, Bogdanovich, shortstop Danica Gleason, second baseman Laurine German and center fielder Olivia Indorf.

Bogdanovich has dominated three teams in the playoffs and she’ll need another good game against Cony. The Rams average 11.8 runs per game, led by senior catcher Nicole Rugan, who has nine home runs.

Of course, the Rams also have a pretty good pitcher in junior Sonja Morse, who averages about 11 strikeouts. If she gets in trouble, Gaslin can bring in freshman Arika Brochu, who didn’t allow an earned run all year.

In Class B, Fryeburg is led by junior lefty Sarah Harriman, who had 11 shutouts and 121 strikeouts in 103 innings in the regular season. Catcher Carla Tripp hit .519, and center fielder Maddie Pearson hit .468 with four home runs.

Old Town has been sparked by pitcher Kendra Hayward in the playoffs, but the Coyotes have had plenty of playoff heroes. In the Eastern Class B final, it was a pair of freshmen, Brittany Cousins and Rachel Martin, who delivered the big hits.

Two state championship games begin at 11 a.m.: the Class C game between Dirigo (13-6) and Bucksport (19-0) at St. Joseph’s and the Class D game between Richmond (16-1) and Penobscot Valley (18-1) at Brewer High.

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

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