The game had all but been decided.
But for the Dexter High School softball team and their enthusiastic fans, it wasn’t over until the final out was made in their 7-0 loss to Telstar of Bethel in Monday night’s state Class C championship game in Brewer..
They kept echoing their support for one another and the large throng of fans were right there with them.
The fans wanted to see their girls try to win a state championship — Dexter’s first appearance in a state softball game since 1985 — and also thank them for helping the community survive a horrific crime.
Popular Dexter kindergarten teacher Amy Lake and her children, Coty and Monica, were shot to death by her estranged husband Steven, who then killed himself.
It was exactly one week between the murders and the state game.
Just two days after the crime, the Dexter girls tabled their grief long enough to post a memorable win over rival Central of Corinth 5-4 in the Eastern Maine Class C final.
They jump-started the healing process.
Telstar coach Jim Lunney praised the attitude of the Tigers and their fans.
“They stayed up the whole game. Listening to them in the last inning, they were still pumping up. They had a great attitude. They had great spirit,” observed Lunney who, like his players, were sympathetic to the plight of the Dexter players, coaches and community.
“We felt really bad for them,” said Telstar senior pitcher Kayla Merrill.
The game had been originally scheduled for Saturday at noon but was moved back until 7 so the Dexter coaches and players could attend the Lakes’ funeral. Thunderstorms pushed the game back to Monday night.
“I thought it was good to play tonight rather than Saturday to give them time to relax,” said Telstar catcher Lyndsay Merrill, Kayla’s sister.
It has been an impressive but challenging year for the Dexter girls.
Their top-seeded field hockey team lost a heart-breaker in overtime to archrival Foxcroft Academy 1-0 in the EM Class C championship game when the interpretation of a vague rule went against them.
A foul was called on Dexter that would have resulted in a penalty corner but when it was discovered by the referees that Dexter had an extra player on the field, a penalty stroke was awarded.
Foxcroft’s Monica Miles converted for the triumph.
The Tigers still finished with a 15-2 record but lost the chance to play for their second state championship in three years.
“This is a great group of girls,” said Dexter High School principal Steve Bell. “I’m really proud of them. They have been resilient. They have learned to come together with all the ups and downs. And it’s a young team.”
If he sounds like a proud father, he rightfully is. His daughters, senior Devyn and sophomore Jordyn, played field hockey, basketball and softball and helped Dexter post an overall record of 45-13.
Like their teammates, they learned valuable life lessons on how to handle adversity.
“The girls understand. They get it, especially the seniors,” said Bell. “The only difference (between an EM title and state championship) is what it says on the banner and your jacket. A state championship is the icing on the cake.
“Our girls have no complaints. They won a state in field hockey a few years ago; they beat (top seed and defending state champ) Calais in the (basketball) tournament this season. They’ve had a great year.”