SOUTH HIRAM — Sacopee Valley baseball coach Eric Anderson called a team meeting last week. Even though the Hawks were winning games, the coach didn’t like the way they were doing it.

Anderson knew if the Hawks were to have a chance of repeating last year’s run to the Class C state championship game, they would have to pick up their play.

“Coach made it clear to us that he wasn’t happy,” said junior pitcher Rod Maynard. “He said we were too complacent and playing to the level of our competition.”

Apparently the message sank in. The Hawks went out and beat Richmond 10-0 – the top-ranked team in Western Class D. The Hawks scored six runs in the third inning of a game that ended in the fifth because of the mercy rule.

In the next game, the regular-season finale, they beat North Yarmouth Academy 12-1, also in five innings.

Sacopee (15-1) enters the Western Class C playoffs as the No. 3 seed behind Dirigo and Winthrop of the Mountain Valley Conference. The Hawks have won 12 straight, only losing to Class B Lake Region 6-5 on May 4.

“The Mountain Valley Conference teams are very strong,” said Anderson. “We don’t face that type of competition game in and game out. In some of our games this season, I think the players went in with the attitude that our talent would be enough. It’s not going to be enough in the playoffs.”

Last season was a surprise because the Hawks were 7-9 the year before. They won 19 straight games to reach the state final before losing to Washington Academy, 7-1.

“It was kind of unexpected,” said Brady Anderson, a junior who is the coach’s son.

Anderson admitted the pressure started to mount as the wins piled up.

“We had never experienced anything like this before,” he said.

Sacopee had several come-from-behind wins last season, including scoring three runs in the top of the seventh inning for a 4-2 victory over St. Dominic in the regional final.

The Hawks have had an easier time this year with four shutouts. The loss to Lake Region has been their only one-run game. They beat Traip Academy 4-2 on May 22 and Waynflete 4-1 on May 18. On May 8, Sacopee beat Waynflete, 17-0.

“We want another shot at the state championship,” Brady Anderson said.

Washington Academy right-hander Gage Feeney threw a four-hitter with nine strikeouts to shut down the Hawks in the state final.

“We hadn’t faced anyone that good during the season,” Brady Anderson said. “Now that we’ve seen him, we would like another shot at him. We’ve all improved as hitters.”

As a team, the Hawks are hitting .350. Kyle Jordan leads the team with a .479 average, and his 24 stolen bases are tied with Anderson for the team high. Anderson is batting .390 and leads the team with 19 walks. Other top averages: Devin Day (.425), Dana Shea (.390) and Maynard (.350).

Sacopee’s roster has three seniors, six juniors and three sophomores. The juniors – such as Anderson, Maynard and C.J. Dunnells – have played together since they were 7. In middle school their team lost only two games.

“We knew we would have a strong team when we got to high school,” said Maynard, a left-hander with an 8-0 record.

Eric Anderson and assistant coach Chris Burnell, the father of pitcher Brandon Burnell, have coached most of the players through the ranks.

“I coached my son’s age group and Chris coached his son’s age group,” said Eric Anderson, in his third season as head coach.

“Because of last year, the expectations were a lot higher this season. I think the players felt that when the season started.”

After winning the regional title last season, the Hawks got a fire truck escort on Route 25 through Cornish. Their bus stopped at a youth baseball game where they gave the players high-fives and let them hold hold the championship trophy.

Senior first baseman Mike Pingree has noticed something else about Sacopee Valley baseball – the community support.

“We have twice as many fans at away games than the home team,” he said.

The Hawks were 3-13 in Pingree’s freshman season and suffered another losing record the next year before going a combined 34-2 since the start of last year.

Sacopee last won a baseball state title in 1993, the second of back-to-back championships.

“It would be a great way to finish my high school career with a state championship,” Pingree said.