BREWER, Maine —- Richmond High School freshman righthander Meranda Martin did something no pitcher has been able to do this season during Saturday’s state Class D softball final: hold Limestone Community School/Maine School of Science and Mathematics to fewer than seven runs.
She held the Eagles to five runs on nine hits and the Bobcats used a five-run first inning to take a lead they would never relinquish en route to an 11-5 triumph at Coffin Field.
It was Richmond’s second consecutive state championship and third in five years. They lost in the state final the other two years.
Richmond finished at 17-0 while the Eagles lost for the first time after compiling 18 wins. Limestone, playing in its first state softball final since 1990 in Class C, scored at least nine runs in 17 of its 18 wins and had averaged 15.2 runs per game.
“My drop worked very well today and so did my rise ball, especially on third strikes. And my knuckle ball worked great,” said the impressive 5-foot-3, 115-pound Martin, who struck out 11.
Even though she gave up a season-high nine hits, the 15-year-old Martin walked just two.
“They hit the ball pretty well,” added Martin, who threw 115 pitches of which 78 were strikes.
“For a Class D pitcher, she is as close as you can get to phenomenal,” said Limestone sophomore first baseman Madeline Williams. “She threw multiple pitches and they broke real well for her. She’s really good.”
“She’s definitely the best pitcher we’ve seen,” said Limestone senior pitcher Melissa Cantafio. “She threw a lot of pitches we hadn’t seen before.”
Martin also helped herself by making a sparkling backhanded stab of Williams’ one-hop shot in the third inning that probably saved two runs.
In addition, Martin belted a two-run triple in the third inning, walked three times, scored three runs and stole two bases.
“That girl is something else,” said Richmond coach Rick Coughlin.
Cantafio pitched a seven-hit complete game and just five of the runs off her were earned as her mates committed four errors. She struck out four but walked nine and seven of the Bobcats who walked wound up scoring. She threw 147 pitches of which 78 were strikes.
“I was a little bit fatigued after Wednesday night,” said Cantafio, who threw 115 pitches in Wednesday night’s 9-2 win over Deer Isle-Stonington in the EM final.
“I felt stronger on Wednesday night. I struggled a little bit today. I needed to keep the ball down and I did toward the end.”
“She was definitely one of the best pitchers we’ve faced this year,” said Richmond junior first baseman Kelsie Obi. “She threw hard. She was better than I thought she was going to be.”
Camryn Hurley triggered the first-inning uprising with a leadoff bunt single. Martin walked and Kelsea Anair reached on a little infield roller that went for a single.
Limestone coach Andrew Kirby elected to bring his infield in to try to nail runners at the plate but Obi and Kalah Patterson took advantage of the drawn-in infield when their little pop fly RBI singles dropped into very short right field.
Cassidy Harriman bounced to second but the second baseman’s throw to the plate sailed up the third base line for an error; a bases-loaded walk to Emily Douin plated the fourth run and the fifth run scored on a catcher’s throwing error as she threw wildly to first to try to complete a 1-2-3 double play.
Two walks and a catcher’s throwing error on a steal of second made it 6-0 in the second and Martin’s long opposite-field triple to left capped a three-run third inning that expanded the lead to 9-0. Martin had received a second life when the third baseman dropped her foul pop-up.
“That [triple] felt so good. It just went with the pitch and used my body,” said Martin.
But the resilient Eagles didn’t quit and made things interesting by scoring the next five runs to pull within 9-5.
Kelsee Albert singled in a third-inning run, sister Kassee Albert tripled and scored on Jackie Peers’ sacrifice in the fourth and Ellyzabeth Bencivenga’s double, a walk, Cantafio’s RBI single and Williams’ ringing two-run double to left center accounted for three more runs in the fifth.
But the Bobcats got two valuable insurance runs in the sixth on two walks, a wild pitch, two stolen bases and Obi’s sharp two-run single off Cantafio’s glove into center field.
Obi had three hits and three RBIs to pace Richmond, which doesn’t have a senior on the roster.
Kassee Albert tripled and singled for Limestone; Williams doubled and singled and knocked in a pair of runs and Cantafio singled twice and had an RBI.