By Kevin C. Mills, Sun Journal
PARIS — “Fearless and relentless” is their motto.
Those are the words the Bangor softball team tries to live by. And they’re not just some hollow motivational phrase the team tosses around. When push comes to shove, the Rams don’t just say those words, they enact them.
When Bangor watched Oxford Hills take the lead Saturday afternoon, the Rams barely blinked. They used a relentless offensive punch to break the game open for an 11-5 win in their Eastern A semifinal.
“We didn’t want to give up, Bangor first baseman Carly Cosgrove said. [Pitcher] Skylar [Cassum] has been working really hard on staying in the game and going after the lead. Having us back her up really gives her the confidence. As long as we stayed fearless, we weren’t going to let that lead get in our way.”
Seventh-ranked Bangor (12-6) advances to Wednesday’s Eastern A final at Cony. They’ll play fifth-ranked Skowhegan, which toppled top-seeded Brewer Saturday. The Rams were coming off a 6-4 upset of Cony in the quarterfinals.
“We were really pumped up from it because they’re the defending state champs,” said Cosgrove. “We knew beating them would pump us up, but we wanted more. Beating them wasn’t enough. So we came in here with momentum and energy and it paid off.”
The Rams belted out 16 hits. Cosgrove led the attack with four hits and three RBI’s. Emily Reilly had three hits and drove in a run. Sydni Cosgrove, Alexis Stanhope, Cordelia Stewart and Cassum all had a pair of hits.
“They hit the ball all game long,” said Oxford Hills coach Cindy Goddard, whose team finished at 12-6. “They had some great hits today. They just out hit us. We had some errors in there too, but even if we’d only had one error, I think they were going to score more than we did.”
Cassum allowed eight hits but held the sixth-seeded Vikings top hitters in check. Shannon Fillebrown had two hits and drove in three while Anna Winslow had a pair of hits. Out of the top five hitters in the Oxford Hills lineup, Winslow and Taylor Johnson were the only ones with hits. After scoring five in the third to take a 5-3 lead, Cassum shut out the Vikings the rest of the way. Oxford Hills had just one hit through the final four innings.
“It was one of those things where you start to get tired,” said Bangor coach Don Stanhope of Cassum and the third. “You get into the middle innings of the game and then they scored. To her credit, instead of getting in the backseat, she got in the front seat and took the wheel. That’s great to see in a sophomore.”
Bangor built an early 3-0 lead. Stewart had an RBI single in the first. Then Carly Cosgrove doubled in a pair in the second.
The Vikings produced a big inning in the third with four hits and took the 5-3 lead. Jordyn Sanborn singled in Winslow. Then Fillebrown delivered a double to clear the loaded bases. She scored on a Haleigh Robinson fielder’s choice.
The Vikings carried that momentum into the fourth and ended a Bangor threat with a nice double play in which Johnson at short caught a liner and tossed it to Sanborn at third to double up the runner and end the inning.
“All season long we’d get runs and give runs,” said Stanhope. “We’ve been shortening the giving runs part. We use the phrase fearless and relentless. The kids have been working really hard. They’re mostly sophomores and juniors and a couple of seniors.”
In the fifth, though, Bangor broke it open. The Rams got the bats going and the Vikings just couldn’t seem to stop them.
“It was kind of like us when we got going and scored those five runs,” said Goddard. “But then we didn’t get anything else the rest of the way.”
Reilly singled in the first run. A Carly Cosgrove infield hit tied the game. Stewart followed with a bloop single that scored two more. Kylie Cunningham added a double to left to make it 9-5, and Sydni Cosgrove followed with an RBI single.
“Connecting some hits together was certainly a huge difference,” said Stanhope. “You get the runners on and get a backside hit and move them over. There was no give. They just kept going forward.”
Bangor added a run in the sixth when Reilly scored on an Eve George fielder’s choice.
The Vikings got runners on in the sixth on an error and a Johnson hit in the seventh but couldn’t string together a rally.
“It felt like we could have battled at any point in time, even though we were down,” said Goddard. “We scored those five runs in one inning. I felt like we could have turned around and scored another five. The kids played hard. They battled right to the end. They didn’t give up.”