STANDISH —  If there’s a lesson to be drawn from Richmond’s performance in the Class D softball state championship game, it’s this: Don’t sell this group of senior athletes short.

The Bobcats entered Saturday’s state title game against Eastern Maine champion Penobscot Valley as decided underdogs, a year after losing to the Howlers and pitcher Kayla Dube. This day, though, belonged to the Bobcats and senior pitcher Jamie Plummer.

Plummer, who struck out 13, escaped jams in each of the final four innings to lead Richmond to a 3-0 victory. Even Richmond coach Rick Coughlin didn’t expect this type of performance from his lanky senior, and he watched her pitch a perfect game Thursday against Greenville.

“I didn’t,” Coughlin said. “I was surprised she shut them out. But every time they had something going, she’d come up with a strikeout or some big play.”

The championship is the fifth for this group of seniors, who in four years have played for nine state titles, winning three in soccer and two in softball. The win completes an unbeaten season for Plummer and the Bobcats, both of whom are 17-0. Penobscot Valley, which beat Richmond 4-2 for the title last year, finishes at 18-2.

“It just completes our run,” senior catcher Bri Snedeker said. “We feel like our time in school is complete. Obviously there’s always nerves but you get used to it after awhile.”

Both Plummer and Dube allowed four hits, but Plummer didn’t walk a batter while Dube walked seven and struck out 10.

“I expected them to hit the ball more than they did,” Plummer said. “This just doesn’t seem real, it’s amazing.”

Howlers coach Thomas Coyle expected the Bobcats to play small ball and stationed third baseman Shaelyn Jones 30 feet from home plate. It didn’t matter as Noell Acord and Payton Johnson opened the game with bunts and both scored, Acord on a passed ball  and Johnson on an error.

“Small ball is small ball,” Coyle said. “It either works or it doesn’t.”

Acord actually bunted on her way own and took third when the throw on Johnson’s bunt went wide of first.

“(Coughlin) didn’t tell me to bunt,” Acord said. “But I figured my chances were better and I knew the pitcher couldn’t get off the mound and I’m pretty quick. I knew I could make it and I sort of stuck with it throughout the game.”

Dube wore a brace on her left knee from an injury incurred in midseason and it limited her effectiveness in the field and on the mound.

“Her leg was killing her,” Coyle said. “The one bright spot was she got her 10th strikeout and that was her 700th (of her career).”

Acord bunted for a hit in the fourth inning and in the sixth she drew a walk and moved to second on a base hit from Johnson. Acord stole third, with Johnson taking second, and scored on a wild pitch.
“Running bases, that’s my thing,” Acord said. “I like stealing bases.”

Plummer breezed through the first three innings but ran into trouble in the fourth when a hit by Meghan Howey and an error put runners on first and second with no one out. Kelsi Obi made a nice catch of a popup behind the bag at first, Molly McGinn grounded out and Plummer fanned Dube to end the threat. Plummer wasn’t overpowering but worked the strike zone well and hit corners.

Bethany Heald led the fifth inning with a triple to center, but was stranded at third after a popup and two strikeouts. Plummer ended the sixth on a strikeout with a runner at third base. And in the seventh, with runners at first and second, shortstop Kalah Patterson stabbed a ground ball in the hole and threw to Ciarra Lancaster at third to end the game.

“I would never have thought they would go undefeated,” Coughlin said. “They want to win in every sport, I don’t care what it is.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638
[email protected]

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