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History repeated itself Tuesday afternoon at St. Joseph’s College in Standish.
For the third year in a row, the lower-seeded team upset the No. 1 squad in the Western Class A softball final and this time, it was South Portland celebrating while rival Scarborough looked on in disappointment.
The top two teams in Class A over the past several seasons put on a show after each advanced with relative ease to the regional final.
Scarborough, ranked first after a 16-0 regular season, had no trouble with No. 8 Biddeford in the quarterfinals (5-0) or fifth-ranked Kennebunk in the semis (12-0, in six innings). Mary Redmond drove in two runs, Marisa O’Toole had a pair of hits and Erin Giles and Mo Hannan combined to shut out the Tigers. Against the Rams, the Red Storm took advantage of nine errors, Hannan earned the victory and had a walkoff hit and Alyssa Williamson had three hits.
South Portland, which overcame a 1-2 start to finish 14-2 and third in Western A, blanked No. 6 Sanford, 6-0, in the quarterfinals behind a two-hitter, 10 strikeouts and two hits from Erin Bogdanovich and two RBI from Olivia Indorf. In the semis, the Red Riots pulled a stunner, routing host No. 2 Thornton Academy and Gatorade Player of the Year Julia Geaumont, 8-1. Freshman Laurine German’s five hits sparked a 15-hit uprising. Bogdanovich threw a three-hitter.
The rivalry had been quite one-sided in the Red Storm’s favor (14-3), but if Scarborough’s been the best team in the state since the teams started playing regularly in 2004, the Red Riots have been a close second.
The Red Storm had won eight meetings in a row by a combined 23-4 margin before a Red Riots’ regional final upset win, 5-2, two years ago as South Portland went on to take its first Class A state title.
A year ago, the Red Riots appeared to have no peer and beat Scarborough, 3-1, in the regular season, but in the rematch, at the Western A Final, the Red Storm had the last laugh, 1-0, and went on to defeat Messalonskee, 5-0, to win the championship.
Scarborough also took this year’s regular season meeting, by the aberrant score of 14-6.
The Red Storm appeared primed to win against Tuesday as a Bogdanovich scoring error in the fourth allowed Scarborough to score the game’s first run. Hannan took a 1-0 lead into the sixth where South Portland erupted and turned the tide.
German led the inning off with a single to left. Danica Gleason then ripped a single to center.
“I knew (Hannan) was throwing first pitch strikes,” Gleason said. “I knew it would be my pitch.”
Indorf followed and grounded the first pitch she saw up the middle, scoring German with the tying run.
“I just had confidence,” Indorf said. “I was really relaxed and knew I could do it. I was looking for anything. I didn’t have to get a huge hit, just a base hit. Laurine’s really fast. I knew I just had to get it through.”
“I just got done telling the girls, ‘This has got to be it,'” Red Riots coach Ralph Aceto said. “I said, ‘We have 2, 3, and 4 coming up. Start looking for a first pitch strike.’ They did.”
That was it for Hannan and Williamson took over on the hill.
The lefty made her presence felt initially in the clutch, striking out Sam DiBiase, but with an 0-2 count on Lindsay Cannon, her off-speed pitch was short of the plate, eluded catcher Megan Murrell and Gleason sped home with the go-ahead run.
“I was taking a bigger lead because if someone grounded out, I needed a better jump,” Gleason said. “As soon as it went by, I just went. It felt so good.”
Cannon then grounded the next pitch into right field scoring Indorf to make it 3-1.
One batter later, freshman Michelle Moreau pinch-hit and ripped the first pitch she saw over the rightfielder’s head to push the lead to 5-1.
“I was nervous,” said Moreau. “It was my second at-bat all season. I was just looking for a base hit. It went off the bat and I just ran. I wasn’t really paying attention. I just kept running. It felt awesome. We just kept our spirits high and kept playing. “
“You can tell she’s a hitter,” Aceto added. “She spent all year on JV as a pitcher. Great kid. She can swing the bat.”
Bogdanovich did the rest, slamming the door in the sixth and seventh and South Portland celebrated its 5-1 triumph.
“We came out here and did what we know how to do,” said Gleason. “We know we can hit. Hitting’s contagious. When we start, we all hit. We weren’t supposed to be here. We knew we had nothing to lose.”
“I knew we’d be a playoff team,” Aceto said. “I thought with a little luck we could get to St. Joe’s for the Western Maine Final. These kids came together. It was a work in progress. I was juggling lineups up until game seven or eight. I still get kids in and out when I have the need. It’s been a great group. These kids enjoy being around each other. They really do. In my experience you don’t find that. These girls truthfully enjoy being together.”
Bogdanovich caught the final out of the 2010 regional final win as her older sister, Alexis, earned the win. Tuesday, she went the distance and improved to 12-1, allowing one unearned run on a mere two hits and no walks in seven innings. Bogdanovich struck out four and threw a wild pitch.
“I felt confident,” said Bogdanovich. “It’s so exciting. We really deserve it. We’re a good softball program. I didn’t want to go home today. I was a little worried, but I had confidence in my team behind me. We always get the big hits.”
“Erin’s everything Alexis was,” Aceto said. “She still shows too much emotion on the mound, but that will come.”
The offense was sparked by Indorf’s three hits. Moreau drove in two runs and had the lone extra base in the game, the triple that broke it open.
For Scarborough, Hannan ended her stellar high school career by taking the loss and falling to 3-1 after allowing three runs on five hits in five-plus innings. Hannan didn’t walk a batter, but hit one and threw a wild pitch. She fanned five.
“I don’t think I’ve been at my best all year,” said Hannan, who missed time earlier in the season with mono. “This game wasn’t my best. They came up with the hits. It is bittersweet. I had a great year. It was nice. It was a great four years. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Burnham and O’Toole had the team’s lone hits and O’Toole scored the only Red Storm run.
“(South Portland) deserved it.,” said Scarborough coach Tom Griffin. “They’re not a Cinderella team. They have quality athletes at every position. My hat’s off to them. I’m not convinced they’re the better team, but they played one solid offensive game and deserved to win and we didn’t. They hit the ball. We thought the defense was going to win the game for us. They came up with a string of hits. They weren’t cheap. (Bogdanovich) pitched really well. She was tough. I’m looking forward to someday when there’s not a Bogdanovich on that mound. I have to wait another year. “
Scarborough goes home heartbroken at 18-1, but once again, produced a sensational season.
“It was a great season,” Griffin said. “I have no complaints. We laid it on the line. The kids are fantastic young ladies. They gave it everything they had.”
Expect the 2013 Red Storm to make another deep run and perhaps finish the job.
“We lose two four-year starters (Burnham and Hannan),” said Griffin. “We’ll move on. I have nice looking JV and freshmen coming in next year. I have two strong pitchers coming back. Maybe next year will be our turn.”
South Portland has played twice before in the state final, losing to Messalonskee, 7-4, in 2005 and beating Bangor, 1-0, two years ago.
Saturday, the Red Riots will take on 19-0 Cony, a team they haven’t faced.
They’ll go into one final game loose and full of confidence, hoping to add a final chapter to their fairy tale run.
“We’re ready,” Moreau said. “We’re very confident with (Erin pitching). She’s dominant.”
“We’re not getting too ahead of ourselves,” said Gleason. “We need to make sure our bats get going from the start.”
“If we stay focused and play the way we know we can play, we can do it,” Indorf said.
Cape Elizabeth, the No. 7 seed in Western Class B, won its preliminary round game, 7-1, over No. 10 Oak Hill, but met its match in the quarterfinals last Thursday at second-ranked Greely, losing, 6-0, to finish a solid season at 14-4. The Capers had a 10-game win streak snapped with the setback.
Scarborough junior second baseman Marisa O’Toole struggles, but manages to catch a pop-up during Tuesday’s Western Class A Final versus South Portland.
The South Portland softball team exults after winning the Western Class A title, 5-1, over Scarborough Tuesday afternoon.