It was a matchup that seemed inevitable when the season began.
Bangor and Skowhegan were the Eastern Maine Class A softball favorites in March, and now, they’ll meet tonight for the right to play in Saturday’s state final in Standish.
Game time is at 7 p.m. at Cony High School in Augusta.
Both teams enter 17-1, with the losses coming to each other.
Top-ranked Skowhegan is the defending Eastern Maine champion while No. 2 Bangor has played in two regional title games in program history, losing to Medomak Valley in 1999 and Brewer in 2008.
Coach Don Stanhope’s seniors were sophomores in the 2008 contest, and this group of Rams is ready to make some history.
“[Monday] was very relaxed, we laughed and joked quite a bit, we had some fun in practice,” Stanhope said.
The Rams have displayed offensive power along with their strong pitching this postseason, scoring nine runs in each of their two playoff victories.
Bangor also had to fight back a bit in Saturday’s 9-5 win over Cony, after finding itself down 2-0 in the first inning.
“That game couldn’t have gone any better,” Stanhope said. “We knew they were going to be aggressive and they certainly improved a great deal from the first time we played them. It helped us get ready for this game.”
Not that the Rams and Indians have any secrets, since a lot of their players have competed together on summer teams. Bangor ace Sam Bedore (Rhode Island) and Skowhegan catcher Sam Gray (Massachusetts) will be playing college ball in the same conference (Atlantic 10) next season.
Bangor’s offense has been dynamite throughout the season. And the Rams’ catalysts in the playoffs have been junior outfielder Sadie Redman, who has three hits, four runs scored and four stolen bases, while classmate Hannah Lust has two doubles and five runs batted in.
“It’s been something they’ve been doing strong throughout the season,” said Stanhope, whose club is averaging 7.5 runs per game through 18 regular-season and playoff contests.
Bedore has also helped herself at the plate with six hits, including a triple, and two RBIs.
Aggressiveness on the basepaths and solid defense could be two key factors. Bangor is confident and relaxed heading into the game.
“They go with the flow. They’ve earned everything they’re going to earn. Tomorrow night they’ve just got to lay it out there and let it happen,” Stanhope said.
Skowhegan’s offense has also been solid this postseason, averaging 6 runs in wins over Mount Ararat of Topsham and Erskine Academy of South China.
Sophomore Anna Lorrette has two home runs for coach Lee Johnson’s club, with one coming in each game, including a three-run shot which put the Indians up for good in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Erskine.
Gray is another one of the region’s top offensive weapons while Whitney Jones is a slick fielder at the shortstop position.