STANDISH, Maine — Coach Rocky Gaslin gave serious thought to tweaking the Cony High School lineup for Saturday’s state championship softball game against South Portland.
Instead of moving a couple of hitters up in the order, the Rams’ staff left senior Cecilia Fuller in her familiar No. 9 position.
Fuller hit a two-run single with two outs in the fourth inning, accounting for the game’s only runs as the Rams from Augusta captured the Class A title with a 2-0 victory over the Red Riots at Bailey Field on the Saint Joseph’s College campus.
Cony wrapped up a perfect season at 20-0 to earn the gold glove.
“It’s crazy,” Fuller said. “That’s what every team wants and the fact that we got to do it is pretty amazing.”
Cony rode the dominating pitching of Sonja Morse. The junior righthander no-hit South Portland (17-3) for 6 2/3 innings and finished with 10 strikeouts and one walk.
“She was lights out. She kept us off-balance,” said Red Riots coach Ralph Aceto, whose team had its 16-game winning streak snapped.
“The better team did win today,” he added.
Morse mixed her pitches well and often got the Red Riots to chase her high fastball. She lost the no-hitter when Danica Gleason singled over the head of the shortstop in the bottom of the seventh.
“That was fine,” said Morse, who pitched two no-hitters during the regular season. “She had a good hit. I left it in the middle and then she just rocketed it back at me.”
Cony scratched out only three hits against hard-throwing South Portland pitcher Erin Bogdanovich.
The junior lefty was overpowering at times and mowed down 13 Cony batters, but she issued three of her four walks during the fourth inning to help fuel the Rams’ winning rally.
“She’s the best one we’ve faced this year,” Gaslin said. “She throws hard, she had some good movement. The kids were patient at the plate.”
Cony, which left two runners on base in the third, capitalized in the fourth.
Morse drew a leadoff walk, moved up on a Maggie Russell sacrifice bunt and took third on a wild pitch. Bogdanovich then sandwiched walks to Alyssa Brochu and Olivia Deeves around another strikeout.
Deeves walked after a close 2-2 pitch was called a ball. That brought up Fuller at the perfect time and she punched an opposite-field single over the head of the first baseman.
The relay throw to the plate from Bogdanovich got away as Morse slid home with the first run, also allowing Brochu to score.
“I was just thinking, I have to make contact,” Fuller said. “Her speed definitely made it easier for it [the ball] to go.”
Alyssah Dennett singled and Nicole Rugan tripled for the Rams’ other hits. Morse didn’t mind having to pitch in a tight ballgame, despite Cony having cruised during the regular season, outscoring its opponents 195-11.
“I like it because I’m used to pitching against tough teams,” Morse said. “I play in the summer, so it’s like playing with college people, basically. I just came in having to throw the game that I need to throw and focus on one batter at a time.”
After Gleason broke up Morse’s no-hit bid in the seventh, she later wound up falling down near first base and was picked off for the final out.
South Portland’s only other baserunner came in the fifth when Sam DiBiase worked a one-out walk and took second on a wild pitch. However, she was caught off second after Morse struck out Lindsey Cannon.
Cony had put runners in scoring position in the second and third innings, only to have Bogdanovich pitch her way out of trouble. She also worked around Rugan’s one-out triple to right field in the fifth.
“These kids all stayed together,” Gaslin said. “They like each other. They’ve got each other’s back. It’s a combination of everything. We have dominant pitching, the defense is tough and we can hit 1 through 9.”