First-year coaches guide Hermon, Limestone softball teams to state-title berths

Posted June 20, 2014, at 5:26 p.m.
Limestone's Melissa Cantafio sends a pitch to a Deer Isle-Stonington batter during the Eastern Maine Class D softball championship at Coffin Field in Brewer Wednesday evening. Limestone won 9-2.
Terry Farren | BDN
Limestone's Melissa Cantafio sends a pitch to a Deer Isle-Stonington batter during the Eastern Maine Class D softball championship at Coffin Field in Brewer Wednesday evening. Limestone won 9-2.
Hermon batter Shaniah Haskell shows her bunt Wednesday in the second inning of their Eastern Maine Class B championship game against Gardiner in Brewer.
Michael C. York | BDN
Hermon batter Shaniah Haskell shows her bunt Wednesday in the second inning of their Eastern Maine Class B championship game against Gardiner in Brewer. Buy Photo
Calais players cheer for Kaylee Johnson (2nd from left) after she dove for a ball, made the catch and ended the top of the sixth inning during their Eastern Maine Class C softball final against Bucksport Tuesday evening at Coffin Field in Brewer.
Brian Feulner| BDN
Calais players cheer for Kaylee Johnson (2nd from left) after she dove for a ball, made the catch and ended the top of the sixth inning during their Eastern Maine Class C softball final against Bucksport Tuesday evening at Coffin Field in Brewer. Buy Photo

When Andrew Kirby and Megan McCrum took over the softball jobs at Limestone Community School/Maine School for Science and Mathematics and Hermon High, respectively, they knew they inherited good teams.

So they didn’t have to change much.

And now they will be leading their teams into state championship games at Brewer’s Coffin Field on Saturday.

Limestone, 18-0, will be seeking its first state softball title at 11 a.m. in the Class D final when they take on defending state champ and perennial power Richmond, 16-0.

Richmond will be seeking its third state crown in five years and fifth in 11 years. Limestone last played in a state title game in 1990 in Class C.

Hermon, 17-2, won its last state championship in 2010 and will take on a 16-3 Wells team that has never played in one beginning at 4 p.m. in the Class B final.

In the Class A and C title games at St. Joseph’s College in Standish, 19-0 Calais will face 18-1 Madison at 12:30 p.m. with 15-4 Skowhegan taking on Thornton Academy of Saco, 16-3, in the 4 p.m. Class A game.

Calais is searching for its first state championship since 2009 against a Madison team that last hoisted a state-title plaque in 1997.

Skowhegan won the “A” crown in 1993 and has lost five other title games since then, including last year’s 9-3 setback to Scarborough.

Thornton Academy has never been in a state softball final.

CLASS D: Kirby’s Eagles from Limestone have knocked the cover off the ball this season.

They have scored 274 runs in their 18 games and eight players are hitting at least .400. They are hitting .460 as a team and have hit 18 homers.

Kirby had been coaching the junior varsity softball team at Caribou when the Limestone job came open.

“I knew the capability of this team so it made my decision [to apply for the job] easier,” said Kirby. “I didn’t have to change a whole lot. I talked to the captains early in the season and came up with a lineup that has worked out well for us. It was virtually the same one as last year with two minor changes.”

He said the girls were welcoming.

“He has done real well,” said senior pitcher Melissa Cantafio. “He knew he wouldn’t have to teach us much and he listened to what we told him about what we did last year. He didn’t change a lot. It was an easy transition.”

Cantafio said hitting is their favorite part of the game.

“Everybody can hit but we also have some players who can lay down bunts, too. We can play small ball,” she said.

They are also very aggressive on the basepaths as evidenced by their 10 stolen bases in the 9-2 victory over Deer Isle-Stonington in the EM final.

“Most of the girls have speed and we’re not shy about stealing bases,” said Kirby.

The Eagles were undefeated a year ago until losing to Penobscot Valley 7-0 in the EM final.

“We’re more confident this year,” said Cantafio.

Limestone has been led by Chelsey Pelkey (.531, 29 RBIs), Cantafio (.525 and a team-high 7 homers and 35 RBIs), Ellyzabeth Bencivenga (.493-5-27), Madeline Williams (.492, 33 RBIs) and Kelsee Albert (.491). Cantafio is 14-0 in the circle with 110 strikeouts in 84 innings.

“We’re a better all-around team this year,” said Pelkey.

Freshman Meranda Martin tossed a two-hitter in Richmond’s 7-2 win over Greenville in the WM title game and Emily Drouin had three hits.

CLASS B: Hermon’s McCrum is no stranger to state games. She was an assistant at Hermon for five seasons, including the 2010 state championship season.

McCrum said she won’t be nervous “because if the kids see that I’m nervous, they’ll get nervous. The team plays better if we’re all relaxed.

“I knew we were going to have a really strong team. We set team goals at the outset of the season and the girls said winning the state title was the goal,” said McCrum who added that two regular-season losses to Old Town were beneficial.

“We learned and grew from those losses,” said McCrum whose team avenged those losses with a 6-4 win over Old Town in the semifinals before they upended previously undefeated Gardiner 6-1 in the final.

Sophomores Karli Theberge, a .609 hitter with 30 RBIs during the regular season, Allessa Oakes (.491, 20 RBIs) and Sydney Addessi (.429, 15 RBIs) and senior Shaniah Haskell (.440, 20 RBIs) have paced the attack and lefty Theberge, 10-1, has won all three playoff games in the circle.

Wells received a three-homer, six-RBI output from Jordan Agger in its 8-3 win over Cape Elizabeth in the WM final and Lauren Bame went the distance for the win.

CLASS C: Junior pitcher Olivia Smith has had a tremendous playoff run in leading the Blue Devils to their berth in the state final.

She has allowed just nine hits in three playoff wins with 34 strikeouts including 15 in the 4-2 win over Bucksport in the final. Offensively, she has eight hits including a homer, triple and two doubles.

Kate Cundiff had two doubles against Bucksport.

The Blue Devils will have to solve Madison pitcher Emily McKenney, who has tossed back-to-back two-hit shutouts.

CLASS A: The Skowhegan-Thornton Academy matchup could feature a pitcher’s duel between TA’s Bailey Tremblay and Skowhegan’s Kaitlyn Therriault.

Trembley three-hit defending state champ Scarborough 2-1 in the WM final while Therriault two-hit Cony 3-2. Morgan Buker homered and singled for Skowhegan and Mikayla Toth hit two doubles.

TA’s Maizee Lee had two singles for TA, which has won 14 straight.

 

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