STANDISH, Maine — The Bucksport High School softball team cruised through most of its Class C competition like a buzzsaw this spring.
When the Golden Bucks were slowed a bit Saturday by Dirigo High of Dixfield, they weren’t rattled by the pressure of a tight game.
Cassidy Adams pitched a two-hitter and Bucksport scored two runs in the fifth inning to pull out a 2-0 victory over the Cougars to claim the Class C state championship on Bailey Field at Saint Joseph’s College.
“We really wanted it, especially with a perfect season this year,” said junior Kacie Hurd, who singled twice and knocked in the eventual winning run. “We wanted to finish strong.”
Coach Mike Carrier’s undefeated squad closed out the season at 20-0, winning its first state title since earning the Class B crown in 2006. It was the Bucks’ fifth softball championship in eight tries.
Bucksport had reached the Class B title game in 2011 but lost to Fryeburg Academy. This team was determined to take home the gold glove.
“This year it was, period, we’re going to win,” Carrier said of the players’ attitude.
“At our first practice we talked about it,” he added. “That’s our goal. And that’s our goal every year, to make it here.”
Dirigo, coached by former George Stevens Academy standout Sara (Haney) Thurston, finished at 13-7 while making the program’s first state championship appearance. The Cougars gave the Bucks a significant test.
“We just gave them the closest game of the entire year and that’s what a championship game should be,” said Thurston, who grew up in Orland, where Carrier lives.
She had hoped the tight game might help give her team an opportunity to get into the Bucks’ heads.
“I said, we’re going to have a little bit of an advantage because we’re used to the close games,” Thurston said. “If we could only keep the pressure on them in a close game, what are they going to do?”
Adams made sure the Bucks maintained their confidence. The junior right-hander dominated with her hard-throwing style and pinpoint control. She allowed only two singles to Mariah Larsen and struck out six without issuing a walk.
Carrier said Bucksport’s belief in Adams helped them shake off the low offensive output.
“Everybody knows she throws strikes and they still can’t hit her,” Carrier said. “With Cassidy on the mound, if we can get one run [we usually win].”
And Adams was certain her teammates would provide enough support, even though the offense took a while to step up.
“We knew it would be a tough game, so until we got those runs I was a little nervous, but I knew we’d pull through somehow,” Adams said.
Bucksport posted eight hits against Dirigo senior Alyssa Wade, but managed only a pair of two-out runs in the fifth inning. Hurd singled twice and knocked in a run to lead the Bucks’ offense.
Wade, who returned to the circle recently after missing several weeks with a biceps injury, struck out one and walked two.
Bucksport broke the scoreless tie when Shelby Redman stroked a one-out single to left, advanced on a groundout and took third on a wild pitch. Sadie Wight worked a walk and stole second.
That brought up Hurd, who hit a slow roller along the third-base line. She appeared to beat Gretchen Bradbury’s throw to first and the first baseman sailed her throw high and wide of home plate, allowing both runs to score.
“She [Wade] threw a lot inside and our team isn’t really known to do great against those [pitches],” said Hurd, “so we had to pay attention to those and try to get the first pitch, because she usually threw strikes and we didn’t want to get down in the count.”
Dirigo had only one baserunner until Larsen beat out a pretty bunt single down the first-base line with one out in the fifth. She reached second on a wild pitch, but was left stranded.
Bucksport had left the bases loaded in the first and also threatened in the fourth. Hurd lined a single to left and took second on an error, then moved to third on Deb Wight’s sacrifice bunt. However, Dirigo cut down Hurd at home on Jen Wight’s squeeze bunt.
“It’s quite a bit of pressure,” Hurd said. “The playoffs have all been fairly close. That’s when we needed to really buckle down.”