May 10 was not that long ago. On that day, Skowhegan lost a softball game to Cony by the mercy rule. Since Cony plays baseball and softball at different locations, the Skowhegan players had to sit in the bleachers and wait for the bus. It was the perfect kick-in-your-teeth ending to a bad afternoon.
“If you told me back when we lost 12-0 to Cony in five innings that we’d be playing in a state championship game, I’d have thought you were crazy,” Skowhegan coach Lee Johnson said.
And yet, the Class A state final is exactly where Skowhegan will be Saturday. The Indians (14-5) face Western A champion Scarborough (18-1) at noon at Cony High School.
Although Skowhegan’s next game after the 12-0 loss to Cony was a loss to Messalonskee, Johnson said the Cony game was the season’s turning point.
“I think the kids, after that game, took a pretty deep look at themselves, and realized they wanted to be a lot better,” Johnson said.
Pitcher Kaitlyn Therriault has taken over full-time duty in the circle during Skowhegan’s run, and has allowed a total of two runs in three playoff games. After blanking Edward Little, 1-0, Therriault defeated Brewer 5-2 then came within an out of a no-hitter in a 2-0 victory over Bangor.
The defense has also been solid, led by third baseman Shelby Obert, a finalist for the Miss Maine Softball Award. Obert has delivered average, speed, and power from the leadoff spot, as well as playing third base well enough to teach a class on it.
Obert is the most dangerous hitter in the lineup, but up and down the order — from Mikayla Toth, Taylor Johnson, and Andrea Quirion at the 2-3-4 spots to No. 9 batter Lyndsi Merrill — everyone has the potential to start a rally or work a great at-bat with runners on base.
Scarborough counters with an explosive offense led by pitcher Alyssa Williamson, a junior who has already verbally committed to Drexel. Third baseman Erin Giles is heading to Middlebury, and the defense, led by second baseman Marisa O’Toole and shortstop Grace Farnkoff, is top-notch.
While the Red Storm have been superb all year — they had one stretch of six straight wins by a total of 71 runs — Skowhegan has evolved into a confident team. Coach Johnson said two losses, by 6-5 to Brewer and 1-0 to Cony, were important for that, because it proved to the Indians that they could play with the top teams.
“It’s all part of what we try to do as coaches, is to instill that confidence in them, let them know that we believe in them,” Johnson said. “We know what our strengths are, and we need to play our game the way we’ve been playing right along.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243