Mo Hannan’s 95th pitch of Wednesday night’s Class A softball state championship game represented not only the final pitch of Scarborough High School’s run to the title, but was the final act in another year of interscholastic competition in Maine.
Such a milestone inevitably leads to reflection.
Consider the reaffirmation of such dynasties as Skowhegan field hockey, Greely of Cumberland Center volleyball, Bonny Eagle of Standish football, Deering of Portland baseball, Mount Desert Island boys swimming and John Bapst of Bangor girls indoor track.
Then there were the breakthrough moments, such as the John Bapst football team winning its first state crown in more than three decades.
High school sports also continued to serve medicinal purposes in 2009. At Woodland High, where girls have ruled the basketball court for more than a decade, the boys basketball team joined the girls in winning a state title, a double dip that helped the area cope with an otherwise miserable winter dominated by the uncertain status of its major employer, the Domtar Corp. mill.
Just down Route 1 from Baileyville came perhaps the best coaching job of the year from Ed Leeman of Calais.
The Blue Devils’ boys squad finally was supposed to be vulnerable after winning two state titles and three EM crowns in the three previous seasons. Key players had graduated, a vulnerability compounded by the loss of talented sophomore Cam Shorey to a knee injury.
But with Shorey’s brother, Cal, and the coach’s son, Jordan, providing the on-court link between the championship past and the proud present, the Blue Devils peaked in February, then upset Dirigo of Dixfield and 6-foot-9 Notre Dame-bound center Thomas Knight in the state championship game.
Cal Shorey’s 3-point shooting, including the game-winner with 17 seconds left, made him a player to remember long after graduation day, one of many seniors who stood out in ways both obvious and subtle.
There was the selflessness of Camden Hills of Rockport’s Gordon Fischer, who sacrificed individual statistics for the good of the team and still led the Windjammers to an unbeaten season and the Class B boys basketball state title.
There was the individual brilliance of Belfast wrestler Travis Spencer, who joined the elite ranks of four-time individual state champions while leading the Lions to their second straight state crown.
There was the perseverance of Easton’s Sean Daniels, who overcame the loss of his left hand and forearm in a farming accident as a junior to resume his athletic career and thrive away from the fields of play — as evidenced by his selection as a 2009 Mitchell scholar by the Sen. George J. Mitchell Research Institute.
And there was the overall achievement of another Mitchell scholar, Ryan Larochelle of Bangor.
He burst onto the scene as a sophomore, scoring the winning goal in overtime as the Rams won their first state title in boys soccer.
He also has starred for the Rams in baseball, basketball and pretty much anything else he’s tried — including the math team, which he helped win a state title of its own.
Throughout his career, Larochelle has been an articulate spokesman for his teams and a high-class representative for his school.
He and the rest of the Class of 2009 will be missed as they move on to the next phase of their lives.
But the memories of their contributions to the passionate world of high school sports in eastern Maine will remain.