Brunswick and Mt. Ararat’s softball teams pose behind home plate prior to squaring off Wednesday in Brunswick. The teams were playing a “Strike Out Cancer” game. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

BRUNSWICK — The Brunswick and Mt. Ararat softball teams enjoy a healthy rivalry on the diamond.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Dragons and Eagles came together in the regular season finale to play a “Strike Out Cancer” game, which would benefit a family that has been a big part of the Brunswick and Topsham softball communities for the last 50 years. 

“I can’t really put into words how important this day was for the Brunswick softball program,” said Brunswick coach Hugh Dwyer, whose team earned a 15-2 victory Wednesday to finish the regular season 10-5. “We played for something else today. Lately, we had been struggling with ourselves, but the girls really pulled for their teammates on a different level today, which is something you just love to see as their head coach.”

The “Strike Out Cancer” game was to honor the Cockburn family, which has ties to the Bunswick and Mt. Ararat softball communities.

“Today (Wednesday) not only shows appreciation for what we’ve done for softball, but for my family as well,” said Bill Cockburn, who coached the Dragons in the 1970s. 

Brunswick catcher Kelsey Sullivan jumps up to handle a pitch behind Mt. Ararat hitter Breanne Hunter during a game Wednesday in Brunswick. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

In place of their normal uniforms, Brunswick wore purple shirts and Mt. Ararat donned pink ones. The back of the shirts had the names of Bill Cockburn’s daughters — Linda, who played for Brunswick High School, and Brooke, who played for Mt. Ararat.

“It really puts a lump in my throat to see my daughters name on the back of their uniforms,” said Cockburn. “Today was a good day for my family and meant a lot to me.”

Cockburn and Winnie Merrill had two daughters — Linda and Laurie (Cockburn) Butler — die of cancer.

While it was a special day for the teams involved, it was more so for Brunswick second baseman Morgan Foster, who was Linda’s daughter. 

“It was an extremely important day for me and my family to honor my mom and my aunt,” said Foster. “It was just really heartwarming to see the names on the uniforms and all the support we received for this event.”

It was just as important of a day for the Eagles. 

“Community is important and softball is like a family,” said Eagles head coach Terri Tlumac. “We share a connection with everyone but especially with these guys (Brunswick); we just really wanted to give back to that.”

The Brunswick, left, and Mt. Ararat softball teams line the baselines prior to squaring off Wednesday in Brunswick. The teams were playing a “Strike Out Cancer” game. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

Bill and Winnie’s daughter, Brooke Cox, is a breast cancer survivor. Cox previously coached softball at Mt. Ararat and now teaches math at the high school.

“On the bus ride over the girls and I had a nice conversation about taking a minute to pause and recognize these events that have led us here,” said Tlumac. “(It was) just to ensure they understood the bigger picture of what this is really about.”

The Dragons scored all 15 of their runs in the second inning, more than enough support for starting pitcher Ellie Sullivan. Sullivan struck out eight and allowed just two runs on three hits with one walk. 

“The second inning was a tsunami of confidence for us,” said Dwyer. “That is exactly what we needed with the postseason around the corner.”

The 15-run second was highlighted by a two-run home run from Brunswick standout Kelsey Sullivan, just inching to the right of the left field foul pole to get out of the yard. Kelsey Cassidy also came through in the inning with a bases clearing triple.

Megan Reed took the loss for Mt. Ararat (3-11), but struck out five and walked just one batter. Mt. Ararat scored in the third inning, coming off a Jaden Lohr two-run single to center. 

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