DEER ISLE — A regional championship game is not uncharted territory for the Deer Isle-Stonington Mariners.
The school’s boys basketball and baseball teams have achieved considerable success, but the softball squad is sailing into new waters.
The Mariners have never played for an Eastern Maine Class D softball championship. The school’s last regional champion in a schoolgirl sport came in 1987, when the girls basketball team won the Class D state title.
The second-ranked Mariners have a chance to sail into the history books Wednesday as they battle top-ranked Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook for the Eastern Maine Class D softball title at Coffin Field in Brewer.
Game time is 7 p.m.
Also Wednesday, No. 1 Hermon and No. 2 Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln battle in the Class B contest at 3 p.m. in Brewer while No. 8 Woodland and No. 2 George Stevens of Blue Hill square off in the Class C game tonight at 7, also in Brewer.
Mariners’ junior pitcher Sydney Ouzts, who moved from Pittsburgh prior to the school year, has meshed in well with her teammates and has quickly emerged into one of the best pitchers in Class D.
But Ouzts, who has two no-hitters this spring, is as humble as they come.
“I don’t really think it’s just me, I look at it as it’s the whole team,” she said. “I just keep a good head on and know that it’s not all me.”
Ouzts is a key part of what is turning out to be a special team, which has its share of supporters, along with the baseball squad, which also plays for a regional title Wednesday.
“I think there are a lot of people that have supported us all the way through, whether we’re winning or not,” said senior Hannah Siebert, one of three seniors on coach Terry Siebert’s club.
The Mariners have been getting it done with pitching and offense so far this postseason, as Ouzts has allowed just one run and four hits in two games while DI-S is averaging a robust 14.5 runs per contest.
“We’ve done better hitting this year than we have in the past, especially against slow pitching. We’ve had trouble with [it] in the past,” said Siebert, the coach’s daughter. “I think to sum it all up, we have good bats, we have good gloves in the field and Sydney kind of brought everything together.”
It also helped that the Mariners played both of their postseason games on their home field, as opposed to the last two years when they had to take trips to Aroostook County.
“Last year we went to Hodgdon and it wasn’t that bad, it was just the ride,” senior Erika Hutchins said. “Six hours to go play softball is not too awesome.”
But finally exorcising some postseason demons is gratifying.
“The past three years, ever since I was a freshman, we’ve made it to playoffs and we’ve lost in the first round,” Hutchins said.
Wednesday’s game with Southern Aroostook is a rematch of sorts. The two schools met two years ago in the quarterfinals, with the Warriors winning, while Southern Aroostook beat DI-S in the basketball quarterfinals this winter.
Ouzts, whose grandmother lives in Deer Isle and was given the nickname “Syd Kid” by her teammates, throws a hard fastball and a several breaking pitches.
“With my other team in Pittsburgh, there were some days that were kind of shaky. You [didn’t] know if you had good defense to back you up or not during a game,” she explained. “Here, you come in knowing you’re going to have a good defense to back everything up.”
Senior catcher Goldie Garcia said Ouzts is an easy pitcher to catch, and is hoping the Mariners can keep their playoff run going beyond Wednesday.
“We want to take the whole thing,” she said. “[This is] probably our school’s dream softball team so we definitely want to go all the way.”
Siebert added, “It would be amazing because around here the boys usually get all the attention, so we need a little bit.”
The Warriors have had their fair share of postseason success, as a healthy number of their players had key roles on the school’s 2008 and 2009 state champion soccer teams.
SAHS has a powerful offense of its own, having scored more than 10 runs in both of its postseason outings.
Class B: This is a battle of two teams who have taken their share of postseason lumps the last two seasons.
Hermon and Mattanawcook have reached the regional title game after falling in the quarterfinals as top or No. 2 seeds each of the last two years.
Coach Stephanie Biberstein’s Hawks swept the Lynx during the regular season by 2-0 and 6-3 scores and Hermon is in a regional final for the first time since 1994.
Coach Dean Libbey’s MA club hasn’t been on this stage since winning consecutive EM Class C titles in 2000 and 2001, including a state title in 2000.
Both teams have outstanding pitching in Lynx junior righthander Tayla Trask and Hawks’ junior southpaw Debbie Colpitts.
Class C: George Stevens is making its first appearance in a regional championship game since 1999, when the Eagles won the EM Class B title, while Woodland is back in a regional final for the second time in as many years.
The Dragons won the Class D state crown last spring, and have defeated top-ranked and previously unbeaten Calais and Stearns of Millinocket on the title road.
Coach Jim Brown’s Dragons showcase a solid pitcher in righthander Shelby Bassett, while the Eagles counter with their own talented righty in Lydia Clapp.