Much has been written about Richmond’s fantastic crop of underclassmen and rightfully so.

When you start five freshmen and three sophomores you are not supposed to be winning state titles.

That obviously did not stop the Bobcats though, who won their second Class D championship in a row Saturday with an 11-5 victory over Limestone.

The youngsters were clearly a big part of that — particularly the first two hitters in Richmond’s lineup, freshmen catcher Camryn Hurley and pitcher Meranda Martin — but the Bobcats lone upperclassmen starter, Kelsie Obi, also played a key role in their undefeated season.

“(She meant) everything,” Richmond coach Rick Coughlin said of Obi. “She has developed into a leader. She has a great personality and the kids just love her. We didn’t have a senior leader and she just took over.”

Like a number of her current teammates Obi, a junior, was a starter from day one at first base for the Bobcats. Over the past three years, though, Coughlin said she has grown most as a leader — all the while hitting cleanup and playing well defensively.

“She took the other kids under her wing to make sure they became one family,” Coughlin said. “She was really responsible for that.

“. . . I kept telling her, ‘you’re the leader. You’re the oldest, you’ve been there before. You’re the one that they’re going to look up to.’ She just took it and went with it.”

The best part about it for the Bobcats is it will be quite sometime until they are short on leadership again.

Obi — and the entire roster — will be back next season and by the time she does graduate, there will be plenty of upperclassmen ready to take her place.

•••

Championships are rarely forgotten.

Whether it is the physical trophy itself or plays in the game tattooed into one’s memory, winning a state championship is something that lasts a lifetime.

This is true for Madison High School senior Kirsten Wood, although Saturday’s 1-0 victory for the Bulldogs over Calais in the Class C softball state final will always have a little extra meaning for Wood for one particular reason — she got to share it with her sister.

“It’s a real special moment to share because you only get that moment once in a lifetime,” Wood said. “I’m really proud of her and what she accomplished.”

Wood has good reason to proud of her sister Madeline, a freshman, as her inside-the-park home run in the bottom of the fifth inning provided the game’s only run in the Bulldogs’ victory Saturday.

“It was amazing. I was so proud of her and what she did for us,” Kirsten Wood said. “She has speed and I knew she was going to make it once she started wheeling around third.”

This past school year Madeline and Kirsten were teammates on the girls soccer and basketball teams at Madison, but this was the first time they had played on the same softball team — officially.

“We’ve never really played softball together just because of the way the age difference is,” Madeline said. “It was definitely nice having my sister there to rely on because I know she’s a very good player.”

The age difference did not completely stop Madeline from playing with her older sister, though.

“When we were little,” Kirsten said, “she used to come and try to play on our travel team.”

A then eight-year old Madeline was still too little to play all the time with Kirsten — who is three years her sister’s senior — and her friends, but the team still found ways to work her into the game.

“We used to run Madeline as a courtesy runner,” explained their father Floyd — an assistant coach at Madison who coached that travel team along with current Bulldogs head coach Chris LeBlanc — with a smile. “Chris used to send her and I used to say, ‘oh my god, what are you doing she’s only eight years old.”

The limited opportunity was certainly appreciated by the younger Wood.

“It was just good to tag along and play in those games,” Madeline said. “It was a good experience and I guess it prepared me for this time.”

If there was ever a question whether or not Madeline Wood was ready to play with and against her elders, she answered it resoundingly with one swing of the bat Saturday.

•••

Bad teams don’t win state titles.

The further you get in the playoffs, the slimmer the difference in talent becomes until ultimately the narrowest margin can decide the outcome of a game.

Often times though, it is the immeasurable attributes in a sport like softball that can give a team the edge it needs.

If there was one thing the Skowhegan softball team was not short on in its march to the Class A championship it was confidence, perfectly exemplified by their free-swinging, hard-hitting approach to the plate.

“Once we got into the playoffs we knew that we could get to the state game and we could win,” said sophomore Eliza Bedard, who had three hits in the 7-3 win over Thornton Academy Saturday. “We believed that we could, but we didn’t actually know we could.

“We have really good skills as a team and we work really well together.”

The Indians flashed those skills, particularly at the plate, throughout the tournament to the tune of 42 hits in four games, but at some point in just about every championship run a team has to get a little lucky.

“You’ve got to be good to have a chance,” Skowhegan coach Lee Johnson said. “You’ve got to have a little luck to get it done.”

A strong amount of that good fortune enjoyed by the Indians came in the quarterfinals against Edward Little.

Skowhegan escaped with a 4-3 win in a game that saw two Red Eddie runners get thrown out at the plate in the top of the seventh, the first on a heads up play from catcher Andrea Quirion.

“Kory Norcross dove and I didn’t have the ball and I had to tag her,” Quirion said. “I thought she was safe and that would have changed the game.”

Fortunately Quirion had blocked the plate with her thigh, giving her enough time to pick the ball up and tag Norcross for the first out of the inning. After a walk, the Indians then proceeded to get out of a bases-leaded, one-out situation with a force out at home and a strikeout.

“EL gave us everything we wanted. You’ve got to have some things go your way,” Johnson said. “It woke us up a little bit.

“It definitely told us that we had to work in practice and come prepared to the games because twice we had beaten EL pretty handily. That let them know in playoff time you have to bring your game.”

Skowhegan certainly did bring its game from there, but it was by no means an easy run. The Indians survived a Bangor comeback for a 7-6 win in the semis and followed that up by edging Cony. who had already beaten Skowhegan three times during the season. 3-2 in the Eastern A finals.

“We cut them a little close sometimes,” Skowhegan first baseman Taylor Johnson said. “Everyone says, ‘oh you only beat them by one,’ but we always say, ‘it only takes one run to beat someone.'”

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: Evan_Crawley


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