The Disney and Odd Year Magic couldn’t quite deliver a state title to the Scarborough softball team this spring.
Not that the Red Storm didn’t come pretty darn close.
Last week, Scarborough, the top seed in Western Class A after a second straight undefeated regular season, beat last year’s nemesis Thornton Academy, in the regional final, but despite a one-hitter from sophomore pitcher Lilly Volk, fell in the state game to Messalonskee, 1-0.
The Red Storm won their 16 regular season games by an average of 15-2 and held off No. 8 Windham in the quarterfinals (12-8) and fourth-ranked Biddeford in the semifinals (6-5) to reach the regional final for the ninth year in a row.
There, Scarborough raced to an early lead over the second-ranked Golden Trojans, thanks to three runs in the first and single runs in the second and third. Thornton Academy got three back in the fourth, but Volk didn’t allow another and two runs in the bottom half were enough for the Red Storm to go on to a 7-3 victory. Chloe Griffin had three hits, Kaleigh Scoville tripled and singled and Abbie Murrell singled and doubled to pace the offense.
Saturday, in Augusta, Scarborough met Messalonskee in the state final for the second time. In 2011, the Red Storm won, 5-0, but this time, the Eagles got the job done for their first title since 2005.
Messalonskee got exactly one hit, but it was a huge one, Kristy Preglovisk’s first-inning home run, and the two-hit pitching of Kirsten Pelletier proved too move for Scarborough to overcome, as Red Storm batters fanned 12 times. Volk struck out nine and Scarborough had some baserunners, but the big hit the Red Storm had delivered so consistently this spring, abandoned them at the worst possible time as they finished the season 19-1.
“The Messalonskee pitcher did a tremendous job,” said Scarborough coach Tom Griffin. “That’s the best pitcher we saw all year. I thought we could make some adjustments, and we just weren’t able to do it. When you have a pitcher who’s throwing spot-on — she had her rise ball up in the zone where it needed to be and she kept us off balance with the changeup — a great pitcher can dominate a good offense.
“It was a taste of what softball use to be when the pitching mound was at 40 feet. Back then, 1-0 games were pretty common as the strong pitchers would routinely dominate games. This game was an outright pitchers’ duel from two very talented young ladies at the top of their game. Unfortunately for us, we ended up on the losing side. We just could not get anything going or deliver that one hit when we needed it. We had a runner on second base four times in the game, but failed to get a run across the plate. Sometimes you have to just tip your hat and recognize the brilliance of your opponent.”
Scarborough fell short of the championship, but once again had a fabulous season.
“I’m so very proud of my team,” Griffin said. “It was probably the most fun I have ever had because of the wonderful way they treated each other and how hard they worked every day. They were just amazing to watch how they truly enjoyed playing together. We had three wonderful senior captains, Sophia Burnham, Ashley Gleason and Brittany Plowman, who did a outstanding job. We will miss them greatly next year.”
Looking ahead to 2016, the Red Storm will be a powerhouse again and perhaps will finally break through in an even-numbered year.
“We feel that we can again be very competitive,’ Griffin said. “We have some very talented players waiting for their opportunity to contribute. I know my girls will work very hard in the offseason to prepare.
Bangor Daily News staff writer Ernie Clark contributed to this story.