SOUTH PORTLAND — Before taking the field against their crosstown rivals in the Class A South quarterfinals Thursday, Portland High softball players had a feeling that finally, things were going to go their way.

“This could have been our seniors’ last game, our last time playing together if we lost,” junior shortstop Ruby Chase said. “And we didn’t want it to be our last game.”

It wasn’t. Chase and second baseman Hannah Hawkes hit RBI singles to back a strong outing by pitcher Sadie Armstrong, and No. 5 Portland took down No. 4 South Portland, 3-2.

One season after going 3-13, Portland (14-4) heads to the regional semifinals for the first time since 2017 and will face No. 1 Windham.

South Portland finished 12-5.

“It’s really exciting. I’ve never been to the semis for any sports that I play, so it’s really exciting,” Chase said. “It feels great, and we’re excited to take on Windham.”


Armstrong, who struck out seven while allowing three hits, smiled through tears after the game.

“I’m still crying. … We just played a really solid team, that was a really fun game,” she said. “And we get to play a really solid team on Saturday. I think we’re ready for the fight.”

Portland led 3-0 before South Portland pushed across two runs in the fifth and got the potential tying run to second in the seventh. Then a lineout to right ended it.

“Hats off to them for playing great. I think they were flawless on defense and (Armstrong) pitched very well,” South Portland Coach Drew DiMauro said. “We came in confident, thought we’d have more offense, but every time we squared it up, it seemed to be right at somebody. Just one of those days.”

Portland jumped ahead in the second inning when Amina Suleiman walked, advanced on a groundout and a wild pitch, and scored on Hawkes’ single to left. In the fifth, Armstrong (three hits) doubled to left and Hadleigh McPartlan singled to right. Armstrong scored on a wild pitch, and Chase (two hits) singled to center to drive in McPartlan.

“I struggled a little bit this season, so being able to perform in a playoff game definitely felt great,” Chase said. “I wanted to help (the team). It’s not about me, it’s about all of us together.”


South Portland immediately fought back a half inning later. Jillian Edgar walked and scored on Phoebe Dodge’s single, and Dodge came home on Baylie Littlefield’s grounder back to Armstrong.

The Red Riots got a runner to second in both the sixth and seventh but couldn’t push across a tying run.

“I was still feeling pretty good,” Armstrong said. “I like to pitch under pressure.”

Littlefield tagged a line drive with two outs in the seventh, but Kaitlin Vigue was perfectly positioned for the catch. Defense was a theme for the Bulldogs; while Armstrong pitched well and the offense had timely hits, Portland also helped itself in the field, most notably when it turned a 1-6-3 double play after an Andrea DiMauro single in the fourth.

“I don’t remember the last time we played this well,” Chase said. “We all looked great, all around.”

Portland Coach Jason McLeod said his team was able to tap into the underdog mindset to play perhaps its best game.

“They beat us during the season, they were the 4 seed we were the 5 seed, so there was some motivation in there. It’s like ‘nobody thinks we’re going to win,'” he said. “Though it’s really not the full case in that scenario, at the same time, too, you can use it as motivation to play loose. Early on, that really helped us.”

And Portland’s early lead held, even though South Portland tried to catch the Bulldogs at the finish.

“These kids, 1 through 12, love each other,” said South Portland Coach Drew DiMauro. “They fight hard for each other, they’re very close. … That’s the dream scenario you look for.”

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