AUGUSTA — Maybe it was the pressure of defending a state title with much of the same personnel. Maybe it was Sonja Morse’s injury. Maybe it was just Bangor’s day. Maybe it was nothing. Maybe it was everything.

Whatever the reason, Cony’s run toward its second consecutive Class A softball state championship ended in its first playoff game. No. 7 Bangor used the brilliant pitching of Skylar Cassum and hitting up and down the lineup to take a stunning 6-4 victory over second-seeded Cony in Wednesday afternoon’s Eastern A quarterfinal.

“We worked for a few days on laying off high pitches and hitting the pitches that we needed,” Bangor coach Don Stanhope said. “The girls were selective about their zone, and working on quick hands, and they were disciplined. It was fun to watch.”

Bangor (11-6) gave a glimpse of the day’s event on the first pitch of the game, which Sydni Cosgrove lined back through the middle for a single. Cosgrove came around to score on a single by Emily Reilly and an error, and Bangor led 1-0. That became 3-0 in the second inning when Kelsey Pendergast doubled to the base of the right field wall, Cosgrove got an RBI groundout on an 11-pitch at-bat, and Alexis Stanhope singled just inside the third base line with two out.

After getting through the third inning (two strikeouts and a groundout) in nine pitches, Morse was moved to shortstop and Arika Brochu came in to pitch. Cony coach Rocky Gaslin, who watched the game from beyond center field after being ejected in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship game, said Morse was not fully healthy.

“She hurt herself in warmups, pulled a muscle up in her shoulder area,” Gaslin said. “It got a lot worse after the first and second inning. We weren’t aware of it until the second inning.”


Morse’s injury also affected her as Cony’s No. 3 hitter, where she went 0-for-3 with a walk. Morse batted close to .600 during the regular season, with considerable power.

“You could see she was swinging with almost one arm,” Gaslin said.

Cony scored in the fourth when Brochu’s fly ball dropped between two Bangor outfielders for a triple, and she came home on a groundout. Cony lost a chance for another run in the inning when the umpires ruled interference on Molly Russell for crossing in front of Cosgrove at shortstop as Cosgrove tried to field the ball.

Cony scratched within 3-2 in the fifth when Alyssah Dennett’s two-out single brought home Kasidy Turgeon. Bangor led by only a run, but through five innings, Cassum had not given up one hard-hit ball. Though she struck out only three in the game, Cassum was usually in control.

“Amazing. Outstanding,” Stanhope said. “She’s been getting better every day. She comes to work every single day with a smile on her face. She really controlled the zone and threw her change-up when she needed to, and that made her fastball look even faster.”

Bangor won despite its 3-4-5 hitters going a combined 1 for 11, and the top of the sixth inning showed why. Cordelia Stewart led off by crushing a double to left-center field. With two out, No. 9 batter Kylie Cunningham singled up the middle on a 2-2 pitch to make it 4-2. After Cosgrove singled and stole second, Alexis Stanhope dumped a two-run double into short left-center, and it was 6-2.


“We’ve worked all season long on getting the second half of that order just to believe and be fearless,” Stanhope said. “They had some great at bats. They had some great takes, where they didn’t swing, and then got the pitch they were looking for.”

Cony did not go quietly in the seventh. Sydney Cheever singled with one out, and Brochu hit a two-out homer over the right-field fence. Morse walked on seven pitches, and then Russell (2 for 2, two walks) walked on 11 pitches. Olivia Deeves stepped in and ripped the ball to right field, but it was caught for the final out.

“I knew my outfielders had my back,” Cassum said.

Morse and Russell are the only seniors for Cony, which is 35-2 over the past two seasons.

“It’s a good team,” Gaslin said. “We were 15-1 during the season. With playoffs, you have to play your best, and you also have to have some luck on your side. If you don’t, then one and done and you’re out. That’s how it works.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243
[email protected]

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