AUGUSTA, Maine — Scarborough High School softball coach Tom Griffin said he was “flabbergasted” when his second baseman, Marisa O’Toole, didn’t make the SMAA all-stars first team.
She still had a venue left to display her value.
“She got a chance right through the playoffs to really show what she is capable of doing,” said Griffin, who has coached the Red Storm for 25 years. “She’s a big-time player. Always has been, always will be.”
O’Toole made her presence felt quickly in Saturday’s Class A state championship game at Cony High School against Eastern Maine representative Skowhegan. She slammed a home run and a triple and knocked in three runs in the first two innings to lead Scarborough to a 9-3 victory over the Indians.
“She led the way through the playoffs for us offensively and played ridiculous defense,” said Griffin. “She was the key to our drive through the playoffs.”
Ace pitcher Alyssa Williamson of the Western Maine champion Red Storm (19-1) kept Skowhegan (14-6) off-balance throughout the game to back O’Toole’s offensive efforts.
“One of our big things is producing runs early so we don’t have to worry about being behind,” said Williamson. “When Marisa hit that bomb, it just gave us a huge feeling of relief. Those first two innings were huge for us and let us know we could do it.”
O’Toole put the Red Storm on the board quickly, leading off the game by pounding a 3-2 pitch over the left field fence.
“Once I [get] down 0-2, it sends me into a different mode where I’m even more aggressive,” said O’Toole. “It’s almost easier for me to take advantage of a pitch I like, and I guess I got lucky she threw one I liked, and I did the best I could to hit it hard.”
After Chloe Gorey ripped an RBI single for the first run of the second inning, O’Toole followed with a two-run triple deep down the right field line that gave Scarborough a 4-0 lead on the Indians.
“I just try to go with the pitch and she gave me a couple outside, so I figured, ‘Let’s see where it goes,’ and got lucky with that,” said O’Toole.
“When you’ve got nerves and a team jumps on you, those nerves don’t go away quite so fast,” said Skowhegan coach Lee Johnson. “They definitely punched us in the mouth quick and we were already nervous a little bit, I think. I take nothing away from those guys. They’re a very good team. They deserved to win today.”
Scarborough added three more in the fourth with one hit, three walks and an error before the Indians got on the board.
“If you get to the fourth or fifth inning and it’s only 3-0, then your mindset is a lot better,” said Johnson. “When it’s 7-0, your mindset is a whole lot different, especially against a pretty daunting pitcher such as they have.”
Skowhegan finally started catching up to Williamson’s deliveries in the sixth, getting the first run with a solo homer to left-center field from Andrea Quirion.
The Indians tried to rally again in the seventh, after Skowhegan had scored twice more to make it 9-1.
After the first two Skowhegan batters were set down on a groundout to second and a strikeout, Lyndsi Merrill singled and Shelby Obert doubled. Mikayla Toth delivered them both with a single to right field. She took second when the right fielder bobbled the ball.
But the next batter struck out to end the game.
“Their pitcher is a great pitcher. She did a nice job,” said Johnson. “Mixed things up just enough, threw hard enough where she could overpower some batters, and just didn’t give us anything.”
Williamson, a junior who already has verbally committed to play softball for Drexel University, struck out nine, walked two, hit one, and scattered seven hits.
“She spun the ball well, so we were off-balance a lot. You had to [hit] the first-pitch strike,” said Obert, who led Skowhegan with two doubles.
Megan Murrell added a double for Scarborough, and teammate Brittany Plowman singled in both runs in the seventh.
Skowhegan pitcher Kaitlyn Therriault allowed nine hits, struck out two and walked five.
“It feels phenomenal,” Williamson said. “We knew this year was going to be our year. We had a huge target on our back throughout the whole season, but we definitely pulled through. We didn’t give up, and that’s the biggest thing for this team.
“We worked our butts off to get here.”