Scarborough softball returns to Class A pinnacle

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Scarborough senior pitcher Lilly Volk and senior Hannah Ricker exult after the final out of the Red Storm’s 3-0 win over Skowhegan in Saturday’s Class A state softball final. Scarborough won the championship for the first time since 2013.

Adam Birt photos.

More photos below.

After four years of regular season dominance, followed by playoff agony, Scarborough’s softball team returned to what it believes is its rightful place, the top of the Class A mountain, last week.

And in typical Red Storm fashion, they received brilliant pitching and bashed their way to the top, capping a perfect season.

Scarborough, which lost to Messalonskee (1-0) in the 2015 state final, then was upset, 9-7, by eventual champion Biddeford in last year’s Class A South Final, oustcored the opposition, 228-15, en route to a 16-0 record in the regular season, extending its regular season win streak to 73 games over five years.

As the top seed yet again for the playoffs, the Red Storm blanked No. 8 Gorham (8-0) in the quarterfinals and fourth-seeded Windham (5-0) in the semifinals to set up a date with No. 2 Portland in last Wednesday’s regional final.

There, Scarborough shot to a 5-0 first inning lead and went on to an 8-3 victory.

That sent the Red Storm to Saturday to face Skowhegan in the state final for the fourth time. Scarborough previously beat Skowhegan in 2007, 2009 and 2013.

The Red Storm weren’t able to score in the first three innings, stranding runners each time, perhaps conjuring up painful memories from their loss to Messalonskee two years ago on the same field.

But in the fourth, Scarborough broke through and gave senior Lilly Volk, in her final start before taking her stellar right arm to the University of Maine, the only run she’d need. 

With two on and two out, Chloe Griffin delivered the key blow, a two-run single, which scored Sam Carreiro and Lindsey Kelley for a 2-0 lead.

“I had faith that someone would get the big hit,” Volk said. “It was definitely scary though since Skowhegan is such a great team. Once we scored, everyone took a deep breath.”

“We had our opportunities early in the game, but we couldn’t get a run across,” Red Storm coach Tom Griffin said. “We felt it was just a matter of time. Our defense was solid and Lilly pitched great. We settled down, got some runners on and things went our way.” 

Scarborough got an insurance run in the seventh, as Bella Dickinson tripled, then came home on a wild throw.

Volk then slammed the door in the bottom half, striking out two before ending it by inducing a ground ball, and the Red Storm got to celebrate their 3-0 victory.

“It’s incredible, the best feeling,” said Volk, who was the losing pitcher to Messalonskee in 2015 despite allowing just one hit. “I couldn’t ask for a better team or a better result. It’s like a 50-thousand-pound weight has been lifted off my shoulders. The seniors have felt pressure since sophomore year. Every day this season, someone asked me if we’d win states. We had to work so hard.

“Losing two years ago helped light the fire. To win it on the field that brought me such heartbreak gave me redemption. We’re a family. The majority of the girls were at least there watching two years ago. They felt the same pain we felt. To walk off as champions, there are no words for it.”

“It’s well deserved,” Tom Griffin said. “The kids worked so hard. We were focused, energized and we had fun. Once we got the lead, Lilly did her thing and the defense locked in. The seniors have been successful since Little League, through middle school and in high school. We were behind for one inning all year, against Westbrook. We lost our entire infield from last year, so we had to regroup. Bella, a freshman, and Courtney Brochu, a sophomore, came in and took over the middle infield. We were fortunate with them in the field and at the plate. We became even more athletic. This was the most depth I’ve ever had. Maybe the most talent too. To their credit, the kids found their roles and accepted them. They’re incredible kids who loved to play. They were best of friends too.”

Volk allowed just two hits and struck out 13 while walking one and hitting a batter during an 86-pitch effort that featured 68 strikes. Volk went to one three-ball count during the game and had just one other two-ball count. Volk recorded nine of her team’s last 11 outs by strikeout.

“I felt good in warmups and I could tell I was ready,” said Volk, who also had a pair of hits in the victory. “Everything was working. My focus was higher than ever. I felt very confident.”

“Lilly saved her best performance for her last game,” Tom Griffin said. “We have the best pitching in the state. She deserved the opportunity to pitch in the final. She’s a great kid who works hard and prepares well.” 

Ricker also finished with two hits.

“Hannah is probably the most underrated player in the league,” Tom Griffin said. “She came in as a freshman and we plucked her off the JV team to catch when our other catchers were hurt. She was fantastic then and has been all the way through. She’s a great kid.”

Encore

Scarborough’s program has long been the best around, but one thing the Red Storm have never accomplished is going back-to-back as champions.

Scarborough has that opportunity next spring, but saying goodbye to Volk, Abbie Murrell and Ricker will be tough.

“We’ll miss them greatly,” said Tom Griffin. 

The Red Storm have everyone else back, as well as the usual promise in the pipeline, and while they’ll wear the bulls-eye, they’ll have the pieces in place to ascend to the pinnacle again in 2018.

“The expectations will be high again next year,” Tom Griffin said. “We’ll be top-heavy with seniors. We’ll keep working hard. We also have a talented freshman class. We hope we can play well again.”

Bangor Daily News staff writer Ernie Clark contributed to this story.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Scarborough senior ace Lilly Volk fires a strike during Saturday’s win. Volk only allowed two hits and struck out 13 batters.

Scarborough junior Chloe Griffin comes up throwing.

Scarborough senior Hannah Ricker slides into second base.

Scarborough junior centerfielder Laura Powell catches a fly ball.

Scarborough freshman shortstop Bella Dickinson throws out a runner.

Scarborough junior Lindsey Kelley is congratulated after scoring a run.

Scarborough’s softball team raises the trophy to the heavens after the victory, the program’s first state title since 2013.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.