Avery Herrick got a second chance to swing the bat in the eighth inning of Dexter’s Class C North championship game against Narraguagus of Harrington after the catcher couldn’t snare her high, foul popup behind the plate.
The sophomore pitcher took full advantage.
Herrick blasted a long, run-scoring double off the left fielder’s glove and the fence to deliver the winning run as fourth seed Dexter collected a 3-2 victory over the second-seeded Knights at Coffin Field in Brewer.
Dexter (14-5) will take on defending state Class C champ Madison (18-1) in Saturday’s noon state title game in Brewer.
It is the Tigers’ first regional title since 2011 and only their third in program history. They won the B North championship in 1985.
Defending C North champ Narraguagus wound up 17-2.
The Tigers caught a break with one out in the eighth when Cheyenne Beem swung and missed at a high pitch for strike three but it sailed to the backstop and she reached safely.
“That one got me good but I heard it hit the backstop and I just went and ran through it,” Beem said.
Herrick followed with her shot to deep left field off a 1-2 pitch, scoring Beem.
“I had to make the best of it since I had a second chance,” Herrick said. “[The pitch] was kind of to the outside. It just felt like a normal hit. It hit the bat perfectly. It felt good.”
Narraguagus pitcher Lanie Perry said it was a curveball.
“[It] kind of hung over the plate. It didn’t move.”
In addition to her game-winning hit, Herrick pitched a three-hit gem. She struck out 12 and walked one while throwing 107 pitches, 72 for strikes. She featured an effective changeup to go with a fastball and an occasional drop.
“Her changeup was awesome,” Perry said. “It was probably her best pitch.”
“I knew we had never seen them before so they didn’t know I had a changeup. I had to use it,” Herrick said.
Herrick, who shut out Bucksport 2-0 in the semifinals, was backed by an errorless performance from her defense.
“Our defense was a little wonky during the season but it came through in the playoffs,” Herrick said.
The Tigers never trailed, but the Knights twice rallied from one-run deficits to tie it.
Dexter punched across a first-inning run on a walk, senior catcher Tory Asbury’s line-drive single off the first baseman’s glove and a wild pitch.
Narraguagus tied it in the second on Perry’s double down the left field line, a stolen base and Kylee Joyce’s sacrifice fly.
Dexter regained the lead in the third inning on a dropped fly ball and Beem’s RBI double to left-center off a Perry riseball.
Narraguagus answered in the fourth when Kirstin Kennedy singled, stole second, went to third on a passed ball and scored on Perry’s infield groundout.
Senior Perry capped her outstanding career in the circle by allowing six hits and four walks while striking out 12. She threw 132 pitches, 84 for strikes.
Asbury was the game’s lone repeat hitter with two singles.
In addition to Perry’s double and Kennedy’s single, the only other hit off Herrick was an infield single by Anna Taylor in the sixth inning.
“Avery did a great job keeping them off balance,” first-year Dexter coach Jason Hardy said. “She hit her spots and stayed within herself.”
“I feel like I pitched my heart out. I did the best I could, and I’m so happy the team got the win,” Herrick said.
The Knights did get the tying run on base in the bottom of the eighth when Madison Pray drew a leadoff walk. One out later, she stole second.
But Herrick struck out a pinch-hitter and induced a game-ending fly ball to center field.
“They put the ball in play and we didn’t make the plays,” said Narraguagus coach Tracie Martin, whose team committed three errors.
“We made some huge errors that affected us that we don’t usually make,” Perry said. “But it happens. You can’t do anything about it.”