The Erskine Academy softball team’s prospects of reaching the postseason appeared dim as recently as two weeks ago when the Eagles were riding a four-game losing streak and stood 2-9.

But coach Holly Tripp believed her team had another gear it hadn’t yet attained and told it the playoffs were still within reach.

“We hadn’t played our best softball,” Tripp said. “I said ‘this is a plausible goal’ and it happened.”

The Eagles won their last five games of the regular season to finish 7-9. The tournament standings in Eastern Maine Class B have yet to be finalized but as of Wednesday, Erskine stood ninth. The top 13 qualify for the postseason.

Tripp attributes the turnaround to a couple of factors. First, the Eagles weren’t at full strength for the first four games. Once they had a full roster, they hit the meat of their schedule and faced several tournament-bound teams. Second, they had a tough time scoring runs.

“After the second Gardiner game, I told them we had stranded over 100 runners and scored 29 runs,” Tripp said. “That’s all we focused on for a really long time.”

Tripp shuffled her batting order a bit and the Eagles began to come up with clutch hits. Leadoff hitters Taylor Boucher “just lit it up,” Tripp said, while Avery Bond, Emma Robertson and Kaitlyn Sutter have all been key contributors down the stretch. Sophomore pitcher Mallory Chamberlain has come up with key strikeouts.

“I think we’re really lucky that everybody’s season starts over with the playoffs,” Tripp said.

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Richmond finished unbeaten for the second year in a row and has a bye until the Western Maine Class D semifinal round on June 14. Coach Rick Coughlin has lined up a couple of scrimmages and isn’t taking anything for granted despite the fact the Bobcats have rarely been pushed this season.

“In tournament time anything can happen,” he said. “We’ve played well all year; now you’ve got to play even better in the tournament.”

The Bobcats went unbeaten last year en route to the Class D state championship. With six freshmen and four sophomores on the team, this squad is much younger.

“A lot of these kids haven’t been in the softball tournament so it will be interesting,” Coughlin said. “I think this team is a better hitting team.”

Richmond has the East/West Conference Player of the Year in Meranda Martin, whom Coughlin believes is the first freshman to win the award. Martin’s pitching and hitting stats were hard to ignore.

She hit .667 with 29 RBIs and five home run, and on the mound she went 14-0 with 104 strikeouts and 10 walks in 88 innings. And she can run, too.

“I’ve never had a kid as fast as she is,” said Coughlin, in his 28th year as head coach. “She is just lightning-quick.”

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Gardiner coach Ginger Shaw will have a couple of extra days to prepare for next week’s tournament since there will be no Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B championship game this year. The Tigers were scheduled to play Nokomis for the title today at Thomas College, but rain and graduation activities this week forced the cancellation.

“There are so many pieces to this we can’t find a common time to do it,” Gardiner athletic director Steve Ouellette said.

The Tigers are coming off a 10-3 extra-inning win at Nokomis that capped their unbeaten regular-season at 16-0. A loss would have dropped them to fourth place in the Eastern B.

“That was absolutely huge,” Shaw said of the win. “It meant we weren’t having a prelim game.”

Last year’s team went 15-1 and reached the Eastern Maine final but the similarities between the two squads ended there.

“It is like a night-and-day difference,” Shaw said. “Last year was a first time of everything, This year I noticed a huge difference in the confidence level. They’re more mature.”

• • •

Cony lost two of its last three games, but still finished 13-3 and in first place in Eastern Maine Class A. The Rams lost 5-4 to Messalonskee on Friday when they gave up four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Cony finished the regular season Monday with a 12-10 upset loss to Lawrence. In between, the knocked off Skowhegan 3-2.

Gaslin decided not to pitch junior Arika Brochu against Lawrence because she had a sore shoulder. And he also thought his team let up a little.

“We already knew we had it wrapped up going in, but they didn’t take it as seriously as they should have.”

One bright note in the game was the three home runs the Rams hit.

“Against Messalonskee and Skowhegan we were swinging too hard,” Gaslin said. “That game finally we were taking some easy swings.”

Cony will host the KVAC Class A championship Saturday. At 10 a.m., No. 2 Skowhegan plays No. 4 Oxford Hills followed by a noontime matchup between No. 1 Cony and No. 3 Bangor. The winner of each game plays for the championship at 2.

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Madison and Winthrop had their Mountain Valley Conference championship game rained out Wednesday, but the schools are going to give it another go today — and another couple of attempts after that if necessary.

The game Wednesday was scheduled for Thomas College, but if the teams play today, it will be at 3:30 p.m. at Madison, because Madison’s field drains well. If that’s a no-go, the teams will look to play the game Saturday or even Tuesday at a site to be determined.

“I think it’s a fair statement to say that both teams are very excited to be in the game, and are doing everything possible to play the game,” said Madison coach Chris LeBlanc, who is also the school’s athletic director.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638 |

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Twitter: @GaryHawkinsKJ