BUCKSPORT, Maine — The Bucksport Golden Bucks will seek to defend their Class C state crown Saturday behind the same strong right arm of senior pitcher Cassidy Adams, a finalist for the Miss Maine Softball award.
The Eastern Maine champion Bucks will take on West titlist Madison at noon at Coffin Field in Brewer, the only matchup of perfect teams. Both squads are 19-0.
But pitching is always a key component of a high school softball team’s success, and pitchers’ sharpness becomes critical at this stage of play.
East winner Penobscot Valley (18-1) of Howland, with senior ace Kayla Dube, will face the West’s Richmond Bobcats (16-0) at 3 p.m. at St. Joseph’s College in Standish in a rematch of last year’s Class D final won by the Howlers.
Meanwhile, EM Class B victor Oceanside (18-1) of Rockland/Thomaston, led by senior pitcher Rachel Frye, will take on WM winner Greely (15-4) of Cumberland Center at 11 a.m. at St. Joseph’s and East Class A champ Skowhegan (14-5), with junior Kaitlyn Therriault, faces West champ Scarborough (18-1) at noon at Cony High School in Augusta as the East tries to grab all four titles for a second straight year.
In Class C, Adams is the starting point for anyone wanting to beat the Bucks.
“She’s definitely one of the best in the state,” said coach Mike Carrier.
“She has never lost a game in school play,” he said. “Not junior high or JV or varsity.”
Adams has struck out 200 opponents this year and walked only four, according to Carrier’s statistics. She has held opponents to a .125 batting average and posted a 0.51 ERA.
The Bucks have some offensive punch, too.
Andie Lawford and Bri Bires are the top hitters for average.
“Before the last game [the EM final win over Calais], they were both over .600 [in batting],” said Carrier. “Now Andie is hitting .589 and Bri is at .594.”
Carrier has scouted Madison, once last year and twice this year.
“I’ve done my homework,” he said. “They have a very good defense. Their pitcher throws strikes but isn’t overpowering. But you don’t have to be if you’re hitting the corners.
“But I haven’t seen many teams that can handle Cassidy.”
In Class A, Skowhegan coach Lee Johnson alternated Therriault with Taylor Johnson, his daughter, a lot during the regular season, but he has settled on Therriault for the playoffs.
“We’re a much better team with her on the mound,” said Lee Johnson of Therriault, particularly because of the way she can change speeds. Therriault kept Bangor off-balance in the East final with her changeup and curve.
“And Taylor is better at first base,” he added.
On the offensive side, Johnson has his best and probably strongest hitter, Shelby Obert, batting leadoff. Obert is also a Miss Maine Softball finalist.
“Shelby is such a dynamic baserunner, we like to get her on base with people coming up behind her,” he said. “If somebody gets a hit, [Obert] is likely to take two bases instead of one.”
This will be coach Johnson’s fourth trip to the state championships with the others coming in 2001, 2007 and 2009. The Indians came up short in all three and lost the last two to Scarborough. Their last state title came in 1993.
“They do a great job with their program,” said Johnson, “but I’m hoping [Saturday] is our day.”
In Class B, Rockland never won a state title, but Georges Valley did so in 2007 and 2008 in Class C. Now, as Oceanside, the Mariners are seeking their first state softball title since the merger.
Frye’s pitching will be backed by the power hitting of Kennadi Grover.
Greely has never won a softball state championship.
In Class D, Dube is on track to reach 700 strikeouts for her career, a possibility that has Howlers coach Thom Coyle shaking his head.
Where getting 500 in a career is a milestone, he said after PVHS’s East semifinal win over Woodland, reaching 700 is amazing.
She needed 20 in her last two games to do it, and added 10 in Penobscot Valley’s victory over top-seeded Limestone Community School/Maine School of Science and Mathematics on Thursday.
She needs to get 10 against Richmond.
They’re likely to be more intent on getting the title again since the school has reached the state-championship game only two previous times, the win last year in Class D and a loss in 1981 in Class C.