NEWPORT — As Sara Packard entered her sophomore year at Nokomis, no one minded telling her the dream was far-fetched. When you looked at the history, the Nokomis softball team hadn’t even made the playoffs in four years, and hadn’t made the regional finals in more than 25.

“At the beginning of the school year, me and Becky Orcutt were all like, ‘Oh yeah, we’re going to states. We’re going to Eastern Maines,’ ” Packard said. “And everyone would laugh at us. But we really wanted to get this far, and now we have.”

After jelling at the right time, and upsetting No. 3 Medomak Valley and No. 2 Hermon, Nokomis (14-5) will play No. 5 Old Town (15-4) in the Eastern B final at 3 p.m., today at Coffin Field in Brewer.

“I’ve been playing for four years, and we never even made it into the playoffs,” senior first baseman Becca Boyce said. “I knew we had the same team as last year, so I knew we had a lot of potential this year. Just making it to the playoffs is a great big deal, and making it this far is more than I ever could have asked for.”

It was a circuitous route to the regional final for the sixth-seeded Warriors. Very few people would have put them in the top two teams in Eastern B during the regular season. Hermon was 15-1 and Oceanside and Medomak each beat Nokomis and looked like the two best teams in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference.

“Having the season that we had, not winning every game, we learned so much more,” senior second baseman Megan Perry said. “If you watched us, we just had amazing growth during the season.

“In the beginning of the season, if the other team were to score first, we’d get a little flat or if we were to make an error, it would really get into our heads. Lately, we have very, very, very few mistakes, but when we make one, it doesn’t even faze us and we just keep moving forward.”

Packard and Orcutt, both sophomore pitchers, alternated every game in the circle until Orcutt pulled a quad muscle. In the playoffs, Packard and a solid defense have allowed six runs in 22 innings, two of those came in the one inning in the rain against Mt. Desert Island when Packard had trouble gripping the ball properly.

“The first (playoff game), I was really, really nervous,” Packard said. “But after we got past that first one, I calmed down more and I relied more on my team and I was able to pitch better.”

In the quarterfinals, Nokomis faced Medomak Valley, a team that had beaten the Warriors 8-3 a couple weeks earlier. Nokomis stayed a little nervous but also loose and won 3-2 in nine innings.

“We just came in with more confidence, like, ‘What have we got to lose?’ ” Packard said. “We’re the six seed. They’re the three. We’re supposed to lose. You go in like, ‘Hey, let’s win. If we don’t, great season. If we win, let’s keep going.’ That’s the attitude we come in with every game: If we play them 10 times, they might win nine, but not this game.”

Boyce played on a state championship field hockey team at Nokomis and Perry was on a Nokomis basketball team that went to two state finals and a regional final in the past three years. They both said what those teams have in common with this one is chemistry.

“Always through field hockey, we have great team chemistry,” Boyce said. “There’s a lot team bonding that we do. We started doing it with field hockey and the same success came. If you can rely on every person on your team, then that gives them confidence and that makes them play better and that’s what makes a great team.”

“This team especially, we are so close,” Perry said. “We don’t bicker. We pick each other up. And I think that those are so key into getting somewhere. You can have nine amazing, outstanding players, but if you don’t work together, then it doesn’t mean anything.”

Nokomis faces another test today, this time against another surprise team. But there’s no doubt they’re as ready for that challenge as they’ve ever been.

“Before, they were just a bunch of athletes playing the game,” McLellan said. “Now they’re a bunch of softball players playing the game.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

 


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