BREWER, Maine — If the opposing coaches had been told Deer Isle-Stonington would score 12 runs in Saturday’s early afternoon Class D state championship softball game, neither would have believed it.
Imagine if they’d been told the Mariners would score 12 and still lose.
Perhaps it was the pressure and unfamiliarity of playing in a state final for the first time in program history, maybe it was the heat and blinding sunshine at Coffin Field, or maybe a mix of all those things. Whatever it was, the Mariners committed an uncharacteristic seven errors and the Richmond made them pay for all of them with 12 unearned runs.
Even a 17-hit attack by Deer Isle-Stonington couldn’t offset the miscues as the Bobcats outslugged the Mariners 14-12 for their fourth state title overall and first since 2005.
“We don’t normally commit this many errors and we usually have good, solid pitching,” said head coach Terry Siebert, whose Mariners wind up their first regional title season with a 17-3 record. “I think being in uncharted territory for these guys, they just let their nerves get the best of them a little. The defense just wasn’t there today.”
Things started off well enough as the Mariners’ Britnie Jones hit her fifth home run of the season, a two-run shot 210 feet out to dead center in the first inning.
“The first inning, when they hit the two-run home run, I was already scared because that was already more runs than most teams score against us,” said Richmond leadoff hitter and shortstop Danica Hurley.
The Mariners’ momentum wouldn’t last long.
The Bobcats pounced on DI-S ace starter Sydney Ouzts (16-3) for seven unearned runs in the second via four hits, three errors and two walks. Lindsy Hoopingarner and Ciarra Lancaster each hit two-run singles in the inning.
“In the two playoff games in Eastern Maine, she didn’t walk anyone,” Siebert said. “I don’t know if it was the heat or the nerves, but her riseball wasn’t working as well as it normally does and she had too many walks.”
Ouzts would allow 11 hits and five walks while striking out 10 batters in seven innings.
Richmond wouldn’t have long to savor its big lead as the Mariners tied the game at 7 after a two-run second and three-run fourth, but another big inning in the sixth would put the Bobcats up for good, although the Mariners would make them sweat things out til the last play.
Again, miscues cost the Mariners as Richmond had another four-hit inning aided by two errors. The big hit was Payton Johnson’s two-run single with two outs.
“We were able to use the short game to our advantage,” Richmond coach Rick Coughlin said of his team’s four bunt singles. “They were struggling with the bunt, so I’m going to bunt until you stop me.”
Tara Hurley hit what seemed like an inconsequential RBI single in the seventh, but it would loom large as the Mariners scored twice more with four hits in the sixth.
The seventh started meekly with two outs sandwiched around a single, but back-to-back singles by Janelle Ciomei and Jones scored a run before Erika Hutchins belted a two-run single to center to make it a two-run game. Richmond starter Leandra Martin then got the third out via a flyout to left with a runner at first to end the threat.
Martin had four strikeouts and two walks while gutting out the game and giving up seven earned runs.
“When we got ahead, that kind of helped her confidence,” said Coughlin. “She said she wasn’t getting the corners like she liked, so we just told her to throw it and blend in a dropball and changeup.”
Hutchins led the Mariners’ attack with two doubles, two singles and five RBIs in five at-bats. Ciomei had a triple, two singles and two RBIs.