AUGUSTA — A month ago, the Skowhegan softball team began a stretch of games against the iron in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference’s Class A division and wound up losing three straight. A lot has transpired since.
Thursday night, the Indians rode the one-hit pitching of junior Kaitlyn Therriault to a 2-0 win against Bangor in the Eastern Maine Class A championship game.
“It’s unreal,” senior Shelby Obert said. “At the beginning of this season I would never have guessed it.”
The fourth-seeded Indians (14-5) will face Western Maine champion Scarborough for the state title Saturday at noon at Cony Family Field. No. 7 Bangor finishes at 12-7.
Obert scored a run and collected two of the Indians’ five hits, but it was Therriault who made the difference. She didn’t allow a hit until Cordelia Stewart’s two-out single up the middle in the seventh inning. Therriault struck out Kelsey Pendergast to end the game, fittingly on a changeup.
“That’s the difference maker for her,” Skowhegan coach Lee Johnson said. “That’s what she’s had the last three weeks. The changeup has started to come back around.”
Therriault struck out six batters, four on changeups, walked one and hit a batter. The Indians played sound defense but committed two errors that put Therriault in a bind in the third inning. Pendergast tried to score on a tapper back to the mound and was thrown out by Therriault for the second out. She followed by getting No. 2 batter Alexis Stanhope on a changeup to end the threat.
“I think toward the middle of the season we knew we could do it,” Therriault said. “We just started playing better as a whole. It still hasn’t set in yet.”
The Indians, who defeated the Rams twice during the regular season, jumped on starter Skylar Cassum for three hits and both their runs in the first inning.
“It’s always the game plan to jump on them early, but I didn’t know that two runs was going to be quite enough,” Johnson said. “But we played pretty good defense and Kaitlyn just kept them guessing for most of the game.”
Obert opened the game with a solid single to right field and moved to second on Mikayla Toth’s single to left. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch and Obert came home on Taylor Johnson’s base hit to left. When the throw went to second base, Toth came in. Cassum escaped the inning and allowed just a base hit to Therriault in the fourth and Obert’s double to the fence in left-center in the fifth the rest of the way. The Bangor sophomore Skyler Cassum struck out eight and walked one.
“Once she settled down, she got us to swing at pitches up (in the strike zone) which is in her favor,” Johnson said.
Skowhegan squared off against Scarborough in 2007 and 2009, losing both games, but this season has been special so far.
“We had a couple of tough games against Cony and Brewer,” Johnson said. “And to rebound the way they have and come together the way they have, I’m very proud of them.”
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638