Longtime rivals Dexter and Central of East Corinth have had many memorable battles on the field hockey field and basketball court over the years, with championship hardware on the line in some instances.
That’ll be the case again Wednesday when the Tigers and Red Devils meet at Coffin Field in Brewer for the Eastern Maine Class C championship at 7 p.m.
Deer Isle-Stonington will take on Ashland for the Class D title on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. in Brewer.
Dexter hasn’t played for a regional title on the diamond since 2003, when the Tigers fell to Central, while the program hasn’t appeared in a state final since 1985, when the team was in Class B.
Dexter roared out of the gates to a 9-0 record, but was humbled in a 12-1 loss to Orono on May 23, and that coupled with a 9-7 defeat to Central on May 28 woke up coach Galen Chapman’s club a bit.
“Anybody can beat anybody on a given day,” he said. “I think those two losses kind of helped us out.”
The Tigers won the rematch with the Red Riots in the semifinals, and if Dexter and Central’s regular-season matchups are any indication, this should be a tight battle.
Dexter won the first meeting 10-9.
“They’ve got a very good program over there,” Chapman said. “It’s going to come down to who makes the plays and who makes the key hits.”
In victories over Orono and Piscataquis of Guilford, the Tigers have piled up 12 runs while pitcher Libby Kain has been solid.
“We’ve got nine players that can do the job,” said Chapman. “Anybody can step up and hit it. That’s what makes us dangerous is we’ve got nine good hitters on the team.”
Central is no stranger to postseason success on the diamond, as the Red Devils won consecutive Eastern Maine titles in 2005-06, with a state crown coming in 2005.
Coach Durice Washburn’s club hasn’t been back here since 2006, but the Red Devils caught fire at the end of the regular season, winning 10 of their last 11 games, including a victory over 2010 Class B state champion Hermon, which enabled Central to make a big move in the Heal point standings.
“It gave us some confidence knowing we could beat a very good team,” Washburn said.
Central features a solid pitcher in Alix Rudzinski, and the Red Devils have pushed across 20 runs in two games, including a 12-0 victory over No. 7 Penobscot Valley of Howland in the semifinals.
“It was kind of a big hurdle for us to get by that semifinal game,” said Washburn, whose club lost in that same round last spring.
“[On Wednesday] It’s going to be the team that plays the best defense on that day,” said Washburn. “Both teams hit the ball well, both teams have scored a lot of runs this year, both are aggressive on the bases.”
In Class D, Deer Isle-Stonington has looked everything like a defending regional champion this postseason, having dispatched East Grand of Danforth and Central Aroostook of Mars Hill by a combined 17-0.
Junior righthander Sydney Outzs has been strong for coach Terry Siebert’s Mariners, having yielded only five hits and compiling 30 strikeouts in the two games.
The Mariners have gotten production up and down the lineup throughout the playoffs, with Amber Jones collecting three hits and three runs batted in, while other catalysts have been Chelsea Brown, Janelle Ciomei, Julie Hutchins and Abby Grindle.
Deer Isle faces a fifth-ranked Ashland club which upset No. 4 Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook and top-seeded Limestone to reach its first regional final since 2008.
The Hornets have also been swinging the bats well, pushing across 31 runs in those contests.