Wednesday evening, in the latest regional final showdown between softball powerhouses Scarborough and South Portland, the Red Storm got the last laugh.
Scarborough took the Western Class A championships with a somewhat surprising 1-0 triumph and earned a date against Messalonskee (16-3) in the Class A Final Saturday at high noon at Cony High School in Augusta.
Cape Elizabeth’s run didn’t last near as long. The sixth-ranked Capers, who returned the playoffs after a one-year absence, suffered an 8-4 loss at No. 3 Oak Hill in the Western B quarterfinals.
South Portland won its first state championship a year ago and was unstoppable this spring, winning all 16 games by a composite margin of 157-23. The Red Riots, behind senior ace Alexis Bogdanovich, Maine’s Gatorade Player of the Year, and a fearsome offense, had no peer.
South Portland kept the good times rolling in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, dispatching No. 8 Sanford (11-0) and No. 4 McAuley (14-2, in five innings).
Against the Redskins, Bogdanovich threw a no-hitter and had three hits and two RBIs. Senior slugger Katlin Norton hit a three-run home run and classmate Amanda Linscott also went deep. Sophomore Danica Gleason had three RBIs.
In the win over the Lions, Bogdanovich threw a three-hitter and the Red Riots scored four runs in the first and six in the third to break it open. They added four in the fifth to bring about the mercy rule and end it.
Scarborough, meanwhile, lost only once in the regular season, to South Portland, and went 15-1 behind a 134-23 run differential. The Red Storm, seeded second, downed No. 7 Noble, 9-0, in five innings in the quarterfinals, then held off No. 3 Thornton Academy, 2-0, in the semis.
Against the Knights, junior ace Mo Hannan threw a no-hitter and fanned 13 batters. She had four hits and an RBI and junior Abby Rutt hit a home run. In the win over the Golden Trojans, Freshman standout Alyssa Williamson hit a long home run. Hannan threw a five-hit shutout, struck out 11 and worked out of a couple late jams.
“It was nervewracking, but it’s good coming out of a close game and knowing we came out on top,” Hannan said. “We knew defense would win this game. One run helped so much. That second one felt good. I knew I could give up one.”
“We knew it would be a struggle,” Griffin said. “We hoped we could open up the game, but it didn’t happen. (Thornton Academy’s) a great team. I’m pleased we worked hard to play this game on our field. A lot of times that’s what it comes down to.”
On May 24, South Portland beat visiting Scarborough, 3-1. The teams have quite a playoff history as the squads combined for five regional and three state championships dating back to 2005.
The Red Storm won the 2007 and 2009 state titles and the Red Riots dethroned them last spring with a stirring 5-2 win in the regional final en route to their first-ever championship, 1-0, over Bangor.
South Portland also beat Scarborough, 1-0, in the 2005 Western A Final. The Red Storm won the other five encounters, in the 2003 semifinals (3-0), 2004 quarterfinals (3-0), 2007 regional final (7-1), 2008 semis (1-0) and 2009 regional final (2-0).
Wednesday night, Scarborough rode Hannan to the finish line. The pitcher led off the game with a single, went to third on an error and scored the only run on a ground ball by Dominique Burnham. She did the rest on the mound, working out of occasional trouble en route to a four-hit, two-walk performance and a 1-0 triumph.
The Red Riots finished 16-1. The Red Storm (16-1) move on.
We’ll have more on both teams in next week’s edition.
Cape Elizabeth met its goal of returning to the postseason with a 10-6 record this spring. The Capers wound up sixth in the region and had to go to No. 3 Oak Hill for the quarterfinals. As it turned out, they had to make the trip to Wales twice.
Last Thursday, in the midst of a close game, the contest was postponed by bad weather necessitating a return trip Friday. There, Cape Elizabeth fell behind, 6-2, early and despite seven Oak Hill errors, three hits and an RBI from senior Ally Boyington and two hits apiece from senior Emily Donovan and junior Sage Hunt, couldn’t take advantage and wound up falling, 8-4, to finish 10-7.
“We hit their pitcher hard, but we hit it right at people,” lamented Capers coach Joe Henriksen. “We tried everything we could, but didn’t have timely hitting. We got back to the playoffs and I don’t think anybody really wanted to play us.”
Cape Elizabeth will be back in its familiar role as contender next spring.
“We had three freshmen on the field at Oak Hill, so I feel good about next year,” said Henriksen. “I’m losing four kids, but have quite a bit back. I think we’ll be a playoff contender for sure. Beyond that depends on the kids and how much they work in the offseason. I think the future’s bright.”
South Portland senior ace Alexis Bogdanovich fights off the elements and delivers a pitch during Saturday’s semifinal round romp over McAuley.