RICHMOND — Big game experience doesn’t just happen overnight. But it seems to come awfully quickly in Richmond.

Both the Richmond baseball and softball teams have been in their share of big moments, although they’ve come about it in different ways. Both will be playing in their biggest games of the season on the campus of St. Joseph’s College on Tuesday.

The top-seeded Bobcats baseball team (15-3) takes on No. 2 Searsport (14-4) for the Western Class D championship at 6:30 p.m. Three hours earlier, on the softball field that abuts the baseball diamond, the top-seeded softball team (16-0) will also meet No. 2 Searsport (13-5) for the Western Class D title at 3:30 p.m.

Richmond softball takes a 50-game winning streak and a string of five straight regional titles into Tuesday’s matinee. Coach Rick Coughlin noted not only will his players be familiar with their surroundings, but Searsport, by contrast, will be in very unfamiliar territory. The Vikings played in Eastern Maine until realignment moved them to Western D before last year.

“We hope we have the advantage having played there whereas Searsport hasn’t,” Coughlin said.

Sophomore Meranda Martin returns to the St. Joe’s circle where she pitched the Bobcats to last year’s regional championship and boasts a 10-0 record in 2015 with 71 strikeouts and six walks in 63 innings pitched. If anything, Martin should be stronger for her start than she was at this time last year because freshman Sydney Tilton has helped take some of the pitching workload off her this season.

Martin and Tilton also lead a potent offense that outscored opponents, 220-28. That includes an 11-1 win at Searsport on May 26. The Bobcats have tough outs throughout the lineup. Autumn Acord had a big single in their 14-2 semifinal win over Vinalhaven/North Haven, while Kelsi Anair homered and Camryn Hurley had two timely hits.

“Right down the line, we have people that can hit the ball,” Coughlin said. “When someone doesn’t have a good day at the plate, the others seem to pick it up.”

The unenviable task of trying to make sure everyone has a bad day for the Bobcats falls on Vikings senior pitcher Brittany Ward, who took the loss in the first meeting.

“She throws well,” Coughlin said. “She throws hard. At the time, she threw the hardest of anyone we had faced. I think she’s a quality pitcher.”

“I told the kids, she’s going to throw it so you can hit it. You have to hit your pitch and not hers,” he added. “I told them (Searsport) can beat you if you don’t come out and play the way you’re capable of playing.”

Searsport’s baseball team showed it was more than capable of beating Richmond in a 3-0 win in Richmond, also on May 26. Searsport’s Troy Reynolds and Richmond’s Mike Stewart locked in a pitcher’s duel where they combined for 26 strikeouts.

“(Reynolds) can bring it,” said Richmond coach Ryan Gardner, who estimated Reynolds fastball to be around 80 miles per hour. “He’s always around the plate. He and Mike went at it. It was a 1-0 game and then we made a couple of errors in the sixth that made it a 3-0 game.”

Gardner had to call on Stewart for four scoreless innings of relief Saturday in Richmond’s 4-3 semifinal win over Valley, so sophomore Brendan Emmons will get the start. Emmons pitched more last year than he did this year, taking a 2-0 record into Tuesday’s game. But Gardner is confident he and the rest of his young team, which includes 10 freshmen, won’t wilt in the heat of the moment

“A lot of these kids haven’t been (to St. Joseph’s) before. But they’ve had success in other sports. They’ve won a state championship in soccer and played at the Augusta Civic Center in basketball, and I think nothing really fazes them,” Gardner said.

One of the keys to Emmons’ and the Bobcats’ success will be not giving the Vikings extra outs.

“We’ve been playing really well defensively,” Gardner said. “I think we’ve had two errors (in two games) in the playoffs.”

Emmons, Stewart and outfielder Tyler Soucy lead an offense that will try to solve Reynolds. Gardner was encouraged with the approach they had against Valley’s Cody Laweryson — who he said throws a little harder than Reynolds — and thinks the Bobcats can have success Tuesday based on that approach.

“The kids really attacked him and made him pitch,” he said. “A lot of our at-bats were eight or 10 pitches.”

A win will give the Bobcats their ninth regional title in school history and first since 2010. Searsport has never won a regional title in Class D but did win seven in Class C before moving down to D.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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