The Telstar and Calais softball teams mirror each other in many ways.
Like the Eastern Maine champion Blue Devils, the Western Maine champs from Bethel have solid pitching, stingy defense and enough clutch hitting to go around.
Those three factors helped lead coach Jim Lunney’s club to its first regional championship since 2006, and they’ll be pivotal in Saturday’s noon Class C state championship game against the Blue Devils at Coffin Field in Brewer.
Defending Class B state champ Fryeburg Academy battles Medomak Valley in a 2008 rematch at 11 a.m. at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish, followed by Western D winner Buckfield facing Woodland at 4 p.m.
Scarborough meets Skowhegan in the Class A game at noon at Cony High School in Augusta.
Class C: Telstar finally got over a big hump by beating two-time defending state champion Georges Valley 4-2 in Tuesday’s regional championship game.
The Rebels rely on two talented pitchers in senior Candace Hall, who had an 0.46 earned run average while averaging 12 strikeouts per game, and sophomore Kayla Merrill, who averaged 10 strikeouts per outing while posting a 0.65 ERA.
“I told our girls, they look like a good version of us,” said Lunney. “We like to play defense, we’ve got a good pitcher, we like to put the ball on the ground.”
Hall and Merrill, like Calais ace Tessa Clark, paint the corners well and like to keep the ball down.
Hall is also a productive hitter, boasting a .440 batting average while leadoff hitter Whitney Mills, the only other senior on the team, has solid speed and has hit at a .380 clip.
This game could easily come down to the little things.
“They’re a good team, we’re going to have to play well,” said Lunney. “I do think its going to be two teams trying to do the same thing: put pressure on the defense. The pitchers aren’t going to walk many; it could [come down to] one run.”
Telstar pushed across four sixth-inning runs against Georges Valley ace Danielle Frye in the WM title game.
Class B: Fryeburg boasts arguably the state’s top pitcher in Hannah Hill, and the Gatorade Player of the Year has the statistics to prove it.
Hill, who has a scholarship to attend Seton Hall University in the fall, struck out 197 batters in 107 regular-season innings while posting a 15-1 record and 0.26 ERA.
She also batted .491 with three homers and 25 RBIs during the regular season.
In the Western Maine final, a 6-2 victory over Gray-New Gloucester, the Raiders broke open a 1-1 game with a five-run sixth inning, with Heather Tripp snapping the deadlock with a two-run single.
Hill scattered two runs and four hits while fanning eight in that victory.
Class A: Scarborough features three key elements needed in a championship-caliber team in a healthy lineup, pitching and defense.
Coach Tom Griffin’s club has gotten outstanding production in the circle from freshman Mo Hannan, who struck out 11 in tossing a one-hitter in the Red Storm’s 2-0 victory over South Portland in the WM final.
Hannan has started all three games in the postseason.
Scarborough, which defeated Skowhegan in the 2007 state title game, also played at Cony, also fields one of the state’s top hitters in senior Catie Funk.
Class D: Buckfield won its fourth consecutive Western Maine crown in dramatic fashion, defeating Richmond 9-8.
Coach Ken Farrington’s club, the two-time reigning state champ, was victorious as LeAnn Abbott laid a bunt down the first-base line, scoring Alicia Patrie from third base.