The Gardiner and Winthrop softball teams will find out today if they play in regional finals, but five area teams are already there.

The Richmond softball and baseball teams are scheduled to play in Western Maine Class D regional finals Tuesday at St. Joseph’s College in Standish. Also in baseball, defending Class A champion Messalonskee is bidding for a second straight trip to the state game when it takes on Oxford Hills on Wednesday at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor.

In lacrosse, the top-seeded Gardiner boys host Yarmouth in an Eastern Maine Class B regional final while the Cony girls travel to Cheverus for the Eastern Maine Class A championship. Both games are Wednesday.

Softball championships are nothing new for Richmond. The Bobcats have played in the last three state title games, winning in 2010. They handed Tuesday’s opponent, Greenville, its only two losses this season, 7-0 and 4-2, but coach Rick Coughlin expects a tough game.

“No. 1 is us being focused,” Coughlin said.

In Friday’s semifinal win against Buckfield, the Bobcats played poorly over the first three innings before settling down.

“We didn’t catch balls we normally do,” Coughlin said. “We made a couple of errors that led to a couple of runs.”

Coughlin is also concerned that the Lakers are playing more small ball lately which will put pressure on his defense. The Bobcats and Coughlin have employed that same strategy for many years with sound results.

The Richmond baseball team faces top-seeded Buckfield in the regional final for the second year in a row. The Bobcats handed the Bucks their only loss this season, 5-4, and they’ll have the same winning pitcher on the mound Tuesday in senior Eddie Stewart.

“The formula for us is to limit our mistakes in the field,” Richmond coach Ryan Gardner said. “Once we do that, we can play with anybody.”

Stewart, who transferred to Richmond after three years at Wiscasset, is 4-2 on the mound and the team’s leading hitter at .459.

“The other day (against Valley) was the only playoff game he’s won in any sport,” Gardner said. “He’s pretty excited.”

Messalonskee coach Ray Bernier has pitched by committee with great results lately. He used four pitchers in Saturday’s 7-2 win against Hampden and may do the same against Oxford Hills, a team the Eagles didn’t face in the regular season.

“I believe we’re going with the same concept,” Bernier said.

The return of sophomore Jake Dexter to the mound late in the season has helped dictate the strategy.

Arm problems prevented him from pitching until the last game of the regular season, then he pitched a couple of three inning stints in the tournament.

“That worked out well for us,” Bernier said. “He’s come up huge in the last two playoff games.”

The Gardiner lacrosse team has faced Yarmouth in the postseason, beating them 7-6 in overtime two years ago and losing 10-0 last year. The Clippers benefit from a tougher schedule than Gardiner plays in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference.

“They’re battle tested,” Gardiner coach KC Johnson said. “They play at a pretty high level.”

Johnson doesn’t yet know the playing status of senior and leading scorer Keegan Smith, who sprained his ankle in Friday’s win over Maranacook/Winthrop.

“It was a pretty good sprain,” he said. “We’ll evaluate it in the pregame.

Midfielder Austin Moore filled in for Smith at attack on Friday and scored a couple of goals.

“He’s become very versatile for us,” Johnson said.

The Clippers have several top players, among them All-American Drew Grout.

The Cony girls are in their sixth varsity season and have reached a regional final for the first time.

They had to knock off unbeaten Messalonskee on Saturday to get here  after losing to them twice in the regular season, the last time 11-4.

“We knew that 11-4 loss a few weeks ago was just a bad day,” Cony coach Gretchen Livingston said. “We were hoping to play them in the playoffs. My girls were ready.”

The Rams lost by two goals to Cheverus in the playoffs two years ago, but don’t play the Stags in the regular season. Both teams beat a common opponent in Portland, although Cheverus plays a tougher schedule and southern Maine lacrosse is considered to be stronger.

“That is the general perception out there,” Livingston said. “We’re making huge gains in this area. I’ll be really curious to see what happens.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638
[email protected]

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