One of the biggest character traits a softball pitcher must possess is a short-term memory, and that’s one thing that Bucksport coach Mike Carrier likes about senior righthander Abby Yeo.
“The young lady is a rock (in) that (circle),” he said. “She is just so steady it’s unbelievable. She makes few bad pitches.”
Yeo has been locked in during postseason play, having allowed just one earned run in three games, and she’s a big reason the Golden Bucks will play for their first Class B state championship since 2006 on Saturday.
“This year she is really focused,” Carrier said.
Bucksport will take on Fryeburg Academy at St. Joseph’s College in Standish at 11 a.m.
Other softball games around the state feature Deer Isle-Stonington meeting Richmond in the Class D contest, also at St. Joe’s, at 3 p.m.; Telstar of Bethel faces Dexter in the Class C game in Brewer, slated for a 7 p.m. first pitch, and Messalonskee of Oakland will take on Scarborough in the Class A game in Augusta at noon.
Yeo, who is the Golden Bucks’ lone senior, came into this season with sheer focus after Bucksport had been ousted in the semifinals the last two years.
“Last year the loss to Lincoln in extra innings was devastating for us,” said Carrier. “She pitched a great game and we lost on an error.”
Carrier calls all of Yeo’s pitches from the dugout, and when Caribou was staying back on her changeup early in the Eastern Maine final, she made the proper adjustments, relying on curveballs, fastballs and riseballs, and the Bucks eventually won 2-1.
“I take her right out of that situation when I find that something isn’t working,” said Carrier. “She has so many pitches that we can change midstream.”
Bucksport has been consistent offensively during the playoffs, scoring 12 runs in wins over Mattananwcook and Winslow before running into Caribou righthander Emily Staples, who had compiled 31 strikeouts in the Vikings’ first two outings.
But again, the Bucks made the proper adjustments, taking advantage of their speed with small ball.
“Caribou wasn’t a number eight team, that was one of the best teams we’ve faced all year long,” said Carrier. “We had to go to the small ball and we did it very well.”
Carrier particularly pointed to Sadie and Jen Wight’s outstanding bunting, along with the slap-hitting abilities of Brianna Bires and Andie Lawford. Jen’s bunt enabled her sister to score the game-winning run on Wednesday.
Having junior first baseman Bailey Blair back in the fold has helped as well, as she missed a large portion of the regular season with a foot injury. She gives Carrier some pop in a bottom half of the order that is lethal.
“The bottom of my lineup has done almost as well as the top,” said Carrier. “That’s where the game’s going to be won, the bottom of the order.”
The Bucks will be facing Fryeburg freshman lefthander Sarah Harriman, who had 11 strikeouts in the Western Maine final, but Bucksport has plenty of experience against southpaws, with one of the best in the state in Hermon’s Deb Colpitts in its own backyard.
“For some reason we do hit lefties quite well,” Carrier said. “Hopefully we’ll continue that process.”
On paper, Carrier believes the teams match up really well.
“They are basically the mirror image of us,” he said. “The pitcher has the almost exact same stats as Abby does. They’re fast, we’re fast, and they hit good pitching and we hit good pitching. Something’s got to give somewhere.”
In Class C, Dexter is gunning for its program’s first state championship, and coach Galen Chapman’s Tigers showed heart and determination in their 5-4 win over Central in the regional final, playing in the wake of the murders of Dexter teacher Amy Lake and her two children.
Lake’s funeral is Saturday morning, and the Maine Principals’ Association agreed to let the game start at 7.
Dexter will be matched up against a Telstar club making its third straight appearance in the state final. The Rebels defeated George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill 5-1 to claim the gold last spring.
The Class D game is a rematch of the 2010 state final, won by Richmond in a 14-12 slugfest.
Deer Isle-Stonington junior righthander Sydney Ouzts has allowed only two runs in three playoff games, and the Bobcats feature their own talented ace in Leandra Martin.