STANDISH, Maine — Even through the pain of defeat, the joy of the accomplishments of an outstanding season had the Bangor softball team smiling Saturday.
Sam Bedore pitched a strong game against a hard-hitting South Portland club, holding the Red Riots to just three hits.
But South Portland junior Alexis Bogdanovich was better, striking out 14 Rams while Katlin Norton once again supplied the offensive heroics as coach Ralph Aceto’s team won its first Class A state championship with a 1-0 win at Saint Joseph’s College.
With one out in the sixth, Danica Gleason hit a ball to shortstop that took a tricky hop on the Rams’ Mariah Cassum, and Gleason reached.
Three pitches later, Norton, whose three-run home run in the Western Maine championship propelled the Red Riots to the state final, looped an RBI double to left-center that supplied the game’s only run.
“Anytime Katlin’s up to bat, I’m confident. I know she’s going to put the ball in play,” said Aceto, whose club finishes 19-1. “She’s got the job done for me all year, she’s a great kid.”
Coach Don Stanhope’s Rams, which finished arguably the best season in program history 18-2, had trouble catching up to Bogdanovich’s fastball.
“She did throw pretty hard [but] she didn’t have a lot of movement on her ball,” said Cassum. “I don’t know why we struggled to hit, we just did.”
Bangor’s best opportunity came in the top of the sixth, when Cassum and Sadie Redman stroked back-to-back one-out singles, and the Rams had the meat of the order coming up.
But Bogdanovich kept her composure, getting Hannah Lust to strike out and Bedore to chop out to short.
The Rams got a one-out single in the seventh from Eliza Estabrook, who then stole second, but Jeri Cosgrove struck out and Bogdanovich gunned down speedy Jade Baumrind on a bang-bang play at first on a bunt to the right of the circle.
“I was just telling myself, this batter’s not getting on base,” said Bogdanovich, who walked one and hit a batter. “They’re an aggressive team, and we just came through. I knew it was going to come down to one inning.”
Bogdanovich and Bedore, who struck out eight and walked only three and didn’t surrender an earned run, stood out on Maine softball’s grandest stage.
“Both kids pitched very well,” Stanhope said. “It’s what you’d expect when two of the top teams in the state come together on a beautiful day.”
Even after the final out was recorded, Bangor, which made it here for the first time in program history, still had plenty of reasons to smile and not one Ram was hanging her head.
“This is honestly the best team I’ve ever been on,” senior second baseman Meagen Doucette said. “These are the best people I know. Win or lose, we knew going in we love each other and that it doesn’t take away from what we accom-plished this season.”
The Rams set a school record for victories in a season.
“We had a great season, we had a great run, I love this team to death, win or lose,” said Cassum.
Both teams certainly proved that they belonged, particularly after beating nemeses in Skowhegan and Scarborough in their respective regional finals.
“My hat’s off to Bangor. That’s one heck of a ballclub,” Aceto said. “Sam Bedore and Alexis [were] out there firing bullets left and right it could’ve gone either way.”
Bedore was proud of herself and her teammates.
“We’re at the state game. Win or lose we made it here. It’s a good feeling, it just didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to,” she said.
As great as Bogdanovich was, Bedore thought the Rams could’ve gotten more than three hits.
“Honestly I just think that we couldn’t get a bat on it,” she said. “She’s nothing we couldn’t handle, we just couldn’t get it together.”