No top-seeded teams remain in the North regional high school softball finals
By Larry Mahoney, Bangor Daily News Staff
When the North regional softball championships are decided on Tuesday, there won’t be a number one seed left standing.
Instead, a ninth seed, two eighth seeds, a sixth seed and a fifth seed will be vying for a regional championship, along with two second seeds and a third seed.
The four top seeds in the North — Class A’s Brunswick, Class B’s Nokomis of Newport, Class C’s Bucksport and Class D’s Wisdom/St. Agatha — had a combined regular season record of 57-3 but were upset in the playoffs.
The action begins at 3 p.m. on Wednesday with the first of three games at Brewer’s Coffin Field.
It will be the Class C matchup between No. 2 Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln, 18-1, and No. 5 Orono, 10-9.
The D final will follow at 5:30 p.m. between 15-2 Hodgdon, the third seed, and eighth seed Machias, 12-5.
The B final at Coffin, slated for an 8 p.m. first pitch, will feature No. 6 Hermon, 11-8, and defending regional champ and eighth seed Winslow, 12-7.
The Class A final between defending state champ and second seed Skowhegan 16-2, and No. 9 Messalonskee of Oakland, 8-11, will be played at Cony High School in Augusta at 6:30 p.m.
Hermon was 6-8 at one point this season and in the midst of a five-game losing streak.
But the Hawks won their last two regular season games and beat No. 11 Oceanside of Rockland 4-1, No. 3 Mount Desert Island 2-1 in eight innings and No. 2 Ellsworth 4-3 to advance to the final against a Winslow team that beat No. 9 Presque Isle 9-2, No. 1 Nokomis 6-3 and No. 5 Lawrence of Fairfield 3-2.
Steph Biberstein had coached the Hawks from 2003-13 but took the ’07 and ’08 seasons off to give birth to her second son, Jacob.
She returned this season and was able to lead the youthful Hawks to the B North final.
Hermon had gone 0-3 vs. Ellsworth and MDI during the regular season.
“I told them all year that it was going to be a process,” said Biberstein, who guided the Hawks to a state championship in 2010.
“We had a lot of things we needed to work on and we were going to face some very talented teams. We had our struggles early on but the girls worked hard. Our goal was to peak at the end of the season and the kids have done that,” she said.
The Hawks start five freshmen and they have played a prominent role in the team’s success.
But Biberstein said it was the leadership and positive environment created by players like senior catcher-infielder Faith Coombs, senior first baseman Charlotte Caron, senior outfielder Ahrya Jelks and junior shortstop Lyndsee Reed that enabled the freshmen to develop quickly.
Caron has been lost for the season due to an illness.
Reed and freshman Katie Fowler have shared the pitching in the playoffs.
They split the Oceanside game; Reed beat MDI and Fowler picked up the win over Ellsworth.
“They’re totally different pitchers. Lyndsee is a power pitcher with a good changeup and Katie is more of a spin pitcher,” said Biberstein, who didn’t know which one will start against Winslow.
The other freshman starters are catcher-third baseman Molly Simcox, left fielder-second baseman Braeylynn Wilcox, second baseman-third baseman Olivia Johnston and outfielder-infielder Norra Idano.
Fowler plays in the outfield when she’s not pitching.
In Class C, Orono will be looking for its first ever regional championship against a Mattanawcook Academy team that thumped the Riots 10-0 and 16-6 during the regular season behind standout pitcher Jennie Whitten, a first-team all PVAC Class C selection. Shortstop Lauren House and catcher Ava Sutherland were also first teamers while third baseman Ereka LaDuke was a second teamer.
Mattanawcook enters the game with a 14-game winning streak.
Orono, which has won nine of its last 11, features All-PVAC selections Laura Cost-Fitzpatrick, the Riots’ pitcher; shortstop Lauren Brown; second baseman Emma LaBelle; and first baseman Chloe LaBree.
Like Orono, Hodgdon and Machias will also be gunning for their first regional softball championship.
Machias has allowed only two runs in its three playoff wins while Hodgdon scored 32 runs in its three victories.
The Skowhegan-Messalonskee game will feature two of the state’s best pitchers in Skowhegan’s Sierra Carey and Messalonskee’s Morgan Wills, who struck out 16 Bangor Rams in the 4-2 semifinal win.
Skowhegan shortstop Jaycie Christopher was the KVAC Class A Player of the Year.
In the South, all four top seeds reached the regional championship games, which will have a pair of 3:30 p.m. games and two more at 7 p.m.
No. 1 Hall-Dale (17-0) and No. 2 Madison (18-1) will square off in the Class C final at 3:30 p.m. at St. Joseph’s College in Standish and the other contest will have top seed Searsport (12-5) and No. 2 St. Dom’s of Auburn (15-1) squaring off at the University of Southern Maine.
Hall-Dale and Searsport are the defending state champs.
At 7 p.m., the A final pits No. 1 Windham (16-2) against defending regional champ and No. 2 seed Biddeford (16-2) at St. Joseph’s College and the B game at USM will have No. 1 York (18-1) vs. No. 2 Gardiner (17-2).