STANDISH, Maine — It’s not always how many hits a team gets, rather when they get them that matters most.
Hall-Dale High School of Farmingdale came up with a handful of timely hits on Saturday, scoring three first-inning runs en route to a 5-0 victory over Dexter in the Class C softball state championship game at Bailey Field on the campus of Saint Joseph’s College in Standish.
Coach Steve Aceto’s Bulldogs capped a perfect season at 17-0, claiming the first softball title in program history.
The North champion Dexter Tigers, coached by Jason Hardy, had their 14-game winning streak halted and finished at 15-3.
“We came into the season confident with ourselves, but not a lot of us have really played together and just the bond we’ve had and being here is just a crazy feeling,” junior Tanley Tibbetts said.
A youthful Hall-Dale ballclub, which featured four underclassmen in its starting lineup, took some of the big-game pressure off with their early offensive exploits.
The Bulldogs were both opportunistic and clutch as Sarah Benner, the only senior starter, was hit by a pitch with one out by Dexter senior Avery Herrick. Rita Benoit then ripped a single inside the bag at third and Tanley Tibbetts reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases.
Lily Platt plated the first run with a fielder’s choice grounder to third base, then Emma Soule stroked a sharp RBI single to center field. The third run scored on a wild pitch.
“It lets the kids relax a little bit more, the pitcher settles down on the mound and they take it down a notch and they can settle in,” Aceto said.
Hall-Dale scored two more runs in the third when Benoit reached on a fielding error and scored on Tibbetts’ triple over the left fielder’s head. One out later, Emma Soule laid down a squeeze-bunt single to make it 5-0.
“They came out and they had the bats going early, they put us on our heels and we made a couple uncharacteristic mistakes in the field that they were able to capitalize on,” Hardy said.
Freshman Ashlynn Donahue earned the victory in the circle, teaming up with Benoit. Donahue spaced five singles with three strikeouts and a walk through five innings.
Benoit, a sophomore, closed out the win with four strikeouts and pitched around Liz Kinney’s two-out triple to center field.
“We just weren’t getting the hits we needed to,” Kinney said. “We just weren’t making the contact we usually do.”
Emma Soule singled twice among only four hits for the Bulldogs off Herrick. She fanned six,walked two and hit a batter while going the distance.
Kinney added two singles to go with her triple, while Herrick, Cheyenne Beem and Hannah Dean chipped in a single apiece.
The Tigers were not able to come up with hits to cash in on potential scoring chances. Dexter went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
“We were just waiting for it to happen,” Hardy said. “We thought on our third time through after seeing them that we’d come up with some more hits and string them together and we just weren’t able to do that.”