STANDISH — When the Fryeburg Academy softball team took its annual preseason trip to Connecticut in April, head coach Fred Apt never envisioned what took place Saturday afternoon.
“Preseason when we talked, I was looking at a 10-6 season and I thought we’d get in the playoffs,” he said.
The Raiders not only got there, but did so with an unbeaten record en route to their fourth straight Class B state championship game, and it didn’t exactly get off to a good start, with freshman lefthander Sarah Harriman throwing five straight balls to open the game as Bucksport loaded the bases.
Harriman eventually got out of that mess, her offense got her three runs in the bottom of the inning and Harriman did the rest, keeping the Golden Bucks in check as the Raiders earned a 5-2 victory at Bailey Field.
So, how does 20-0 sound, coach?
“I never planned on 20-0, that’s for sure,” Apt admitted.
With Bucksport poised to pounce early and a jittery Harriman struggling to find the strike zone, this one could’ve gotten away early.
“I don’t really get nervous during games, but is this the first game I’ve gotten nervous in a long time,” said Harriman. “Coach Apt had to talk to me and told me that ‘you need to calm down, it’s just a game, you’ve played a million of them.’”
Harriman certainly felt better after her Raiders capped off their third state-championship season in four years, erasing the memory of last spring’s loss to Hermon.
Bucksport, in its first state final since 2006, finished 17-3.
After Harriman extinguished Bucksport’s threat in the top of the first, Carla Tripp started the bottom half by reaching on an error. Then Maddie Pearson ripped the first Abby Yeo offering she saw to the center field fence, and Tripp never stopped running.
Pearson would later score on a wild pitch, and Maggie McConkey was later hit by a 2-2 fastball, stole second and scored on an error.
“That’s the nature of the game,” said Bucksport coach Mike Carrier, whose club committed three errors. “In most of these games it’s the mistakes that win the game.”
Bucksport got two runs back in the third as Mindy Pye doubled and scored when Yeo reached on an error, and courtesy runner Deb Wight came home on Andie Lawford’s slap-bunt single.
Fryeburg would answer with two runs of its own in the fourth, with Bri Pelkie driving in one with a single while Harriman walked and scored on an error.
The lefty settled in from there, retiring the last 10 Golden Bucks and finishing with five strikeouts.
Bucksport’s Yeo pitched very well, too, compiling seven strikeouts while allowing only four hits.
“Abby pitched great, she was spotting the ball well, she was keeping them off-balance,” Carrier said. “If it wasn’t for the first-inning jitters, who knows?”
Harriman displayed a solid changeup, and once the Raiders opened the game up, she was able to spot more of her pitches on the corner as the Golden Bucks grew more aggressive at the plate.
“I just felt more comfortable and I knew that if they got at least two runs it wouldn’t be a big deal,” Harriman said. “I wasn’t too worried because I know that we’re a really good hitting team.”
Lawford was the day’s only repeat hitter with a pair of singles for Bucksport.