BREWER — Well, that didn’t take long.

A year after graduating nine seniors from a state championship softball team, the Richmond Bobcats hoisted the Class D trophy again Saturday following their 11-5 win against Limestone.

They did it with five freshmen in the starting lineup and those who said they saw this one coming probably predicted Buster Douglas’ win over Mike Tyson and the U.S. hockey team to knock off the Soviets at Lake Placid. It’s not so much that the Bobcats pulled off an upset Saturday — freshman pitcher Meranda Martin is as good as there is in Class D — it’s just the way the whole season unfolded. The team finished 17-0 and was scarcely tested. No team scored more than five runs against it all season.

“I figured we’d maybe lose a couple along the way,” Richmond coach Rick Coughlin said.

Junior Kelsi Obi is the veteran on a team without a senior.

“I was surprised, not that I didn’t think it was going to happen, that we came together so well and we made it happen,” she said. “I’m proud of my girls and everybody on my team.”

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Several of the sophomores on the team stepped into prominent roles this season and are part of Richmond’s next female sports dynasty. The one that graduated last year won three soccer state championships, two in softball and four regional basketball crowns. And there was a group before that. The continuity is no coincidence.

“They just keep coming through,” Richmond athletic director Molly Bishop said. “Look at a lot of these kids, how many of them have an older brother or sister who have played for championship teams in the last couple of years.”

There were Hurleys, Martins, Acords and Anairs scattered throughout the crowd at Coffin Field, all of whom had a relative on the field. And there were cousins, uncles, mothers and fathers who contributed in one way or another to the high school juggernaut that is Richmond sports, both boys and girls. There are approximately 145 students in the school and 3,400 residents in the town and those who don’t know one another haven’t lived there long enough and soon will.

“They’ve been to all these games watching their brothers and sisters play,” Coughlin said. “They all want to be part of it.”

Coughlin sensed a far more nervous group a year ago in the final than he did on Saturday. Perhaps expectations weren’t as high, but no one played with a we’re-glad-to-be-here attitude.

“We worked tremendously hard,” Martin said. “We worked so hard over the winter. We kept with it and we wanted to get this far. Nobody was really expecting it but us.”

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The soccer season set the tone for the incoming athletes last fall. The girls and the boys both reached state finals, the girls falling by a goal to heavily-favored Washburn.

“We were already close in soccer season,” Obi said. “And about half of the girls from soccer came to the softball team.” Martin and Hurley are headed to Vermont Sunday to play in an AAU softball team. Playing in big games is nothing new for Martin, nor is playing against top competition.

“Travel ball really helps me out a lot in the close games we have,” she said.

Nothing, though, compares with winning a state title for your school, home town and teammates.

“We all hang out at school together,” Martin said. “We’re really close friends.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @GaryHawkinsKJ


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