Fans of George Stevens Academy athletics are accustomed to success on the baseball diamond, as that program has won three Class C state championships since 1997.
But today, fans of the Blue Hill school will have their focus on the softball diamond, as the Eagles will play for the first state championship in program history when they face Telstar of Bethel at St. Joseph’s College in Standish at 11 a.m.
The Eagles had previously won just one regional crown — the 1999 Class B title — while no GSA schoolgirl team has ever won a state championship.
However, a healthy number of players on coach Betsy Stevens’ club came close on the basketball hardwood in 2009, suffering a heartbreaking loss to Jay in that state final, so a little redemption could be in order.
“They’re a very hungry team right now who works well together, plays hard and is ready to win on Saturday,” said Stevens.
GSA’s three seniors, Lydia Clapp, Stevie Theoharidis and Amber Gray, all have state-championship game experience, whether in basketball or soccer. The Eagles played in the 2006 Class C state soccer final.
“Now to add softball onto it, its quite an accomplishment to be able to say they’ve played in a state game for every sport they play,” Stevens said.
The Eagles will be facing a Telstar squad that has no shortage of postseason experience, as the Rebels boast three WM crowns in five years, including a 2006 state championship.
Coach Jim Lunney’s club lost to Calais 8-6 in 2009 in tough fashion, as the Rebels left the tying run at first base after rallying from a six-run deficit to make it an interesting game.
Pitcher Kayla Merrill has been stout throughout postseason play, allowing only three runs in three games while posting one shutout.
Telstar comes in with a 17-0 record, the last remaining undefeated team in the state.
GSA’s Clapp has also been outstanding in playoff wins over Orono, Central of Corinth and Woodland, and she has solid velocity with a fastball in the mid-50 miles-per-hour range.
“She’s on the faster side for Class C right now, she’s got great ball placement and accurate pitches,” said Stevens.
Clapp and her teammates certainly didn’t panic Tuesday night when Woodland made the Eastern Class C final interesting, scoring five seventh-inning runs to turn a 9-1 blowout into a 9-6 nailbiter.
“The girls were the calmest I’ve seen them all season,” Stevens said. “They really came out to play, they knew what they needed to do.”
Clapp, the Penobscot Valley Conference Class C Player of the Year, is also solid at the plate as the Eagles’ leading hitter, while Theoharidis, Gray and Richelle Kane have also contributed in GSA’s balanced offense.
“Probably five, six girls are consistently strong hitters,” Stevens said.
Telstar won its second straight regional crown in dramatic fashion on Tuesday night, beating Georges Valley of Thomaston 3-2 with two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Hannah Morin supplied the game-winning hit with a line drive that landed right on the chalk of the right-field foul line, scoring Lyndsay Merrill.
With two teams that appear dead even on paper with solid pitching and timely offense, this game could come down to the intangibles.
“I think it’s going to be the girls showing up to play their best game, keeping their heads in it,” Stevens said.