BANGOR — Character, poise and confidence are three important traits for a softball team in postseason.
The Bangor Rams displayed all three of those qualities Saturday, responding to an early 2-0 deficit with eight unanswered runs en route to a 9-5 victory over Cony of Augusta in an Eastern Maine Class A semifinal.
Coach Don Stanhope’s second-seeded Rams (17-1) play No. 1 Skowhegan (17-1) in Tuesday’s regional final in Augusta while No. 3 Cony finishes 14-4.
Skowhegan defeated No. 5 Erskine Academy of South China 4-1 on Saturday.
Bangor spotted Cony a 2-0 first-inning lead, thanks to an error, a walk and a two-run double by Emily Soule, but Bangor then showed off its offense, which had its second straight strong playoff outing.
Mariah Cassum and Sadie Redman led off the first inning with back-to-back singles, then Hannah Lust smacked a two-run double to left-center field and Eliza Estabrook gave Bangor the lead for good with an RBI base hit later in the inning.
“Once Mariah got that hit and Sadie got that hit, it just kept flowing,” said Lust, who had four RBIs. “Everyone was just slamming the ball.”
Two Bangor Rams — Redman and Sam Bedore — had three-hit games while Cassum, Lust and Estabrook had two hits each in Bangor’s 14-hit barrage.
“They hit the ball. Hats off to them, they hit the ball very well,” said Cony coach Rocky Gaslin.
Bangor padded its lead with three third-inning runs, with Bedore and Estabrook each singling one in. Courtesy runner Annie Guare scored the other on a wild pitch as the Rams charged to an 8-2 advantage with two more runs, including an RBI single by Cassum, in the fourth.
“I think our lineup is just really solid all the way through, and one person after another just fuels each other’s fire,” Lust said.
That was particularly true of Estabrook, as her run-scoring single in the first ignited Bangor’s confidence even more.
“I think the biggest hit of the game was Eliza’s,” Stanhope said. “She was deep in the count and got an RBI single in that inning. And that just really fueled them and said, we’re not here just to tie, we’re here to win this thing.”
Bangor continued to tack on runs to back Bedore, who gave up three earned runs on four hits while striking out 11 and walking two.
“We have to learn not to be complacent, we’ve got to keep scoring every inning,” Estabrook said.
It’s a good thing Bangor did, since Cony fought back with three sixth-inning runs to make it an 8-5 ballgame.
Once again, Bangor quickly responded, as Lust drove in her fourth run of the game with a single after Redman singled and stole second.
“We just kind of took it to them. We didn’t want to calm down too much [because] we didn’t want to lose our fire,” said Redman, who scored three runs and stole four bases.
As was the case in the quarterfinal, Bangor was hitting line drives and finding gaps.
Gaslin, whose club has just one senior, was pleased with his own offense, which struggled against Bedore in a 7-0 shutout loss earlier this spring.
“We fell behind, we fought back. We got behind by quite a bit, then we fought back a little bit,” he said. “The kids fought back the whole game, they didn’t quit.”
Kate Freudenberger tripled and scored in the fourth for Bangor while Alyssa Brochu drove in a run with a sixth-inning triple for Cony.