STANDISH — As Cassidy Harriman settled into her first at-bat in the Class D state softball championship, she heard the disembodied voice from the Richmond dugout, as did most of the throng at St. Joseph College’s Richard W. Bailey Field.

“Don’t be nervous or anxious, Cassidy,” the voice urged the Bobcats’ sophomore shortstop.

“I was, like, ‘Alright, I’ve got to do this, my team’s counting on me,'” said Harriman, who added she didn’t know the source of the pep talk. “I did it and I drove in two runs, and I didn’t even know I did it. Everybody was telling me and I was, like, ‘I did that?'”

Indeed she did, and so did the rest of the Bobcats. Harriman ripped the next pitch for a two-run single in the bottom of the first that gave Richmond a lead it would never relinquish and set the tone for the Bobcats to relentlessly answer whenever Stearns tried to mount a threat to that lead.

The Bobcats pounded out 10 hits to collect their third consecutive state championship, and 52nd straight win overall, with a 9-4 win Saturday.

Richmond became just the second Class D team to win three straight state titles, joining Jonesport-Beals, which pulled off the trifecta in 1992-94.

“There’s a lot of confidence, even when we’re down,” first baseman Kelsie Obi said. “On and off the field, we’re always talking each other up, saying we can do our best. If we do get down, we have to build ourselves up. If we let ourselves get down, then that means we’re already losing. We need to always be on our horse and ready to go again.”

Freshman catcher Sydney Tilton led Richmond with a single, double and triple, scoring two runs and driving in one. Obi, the only senior starter on the team, had an RBI single and RBI double, while Camryn Hurley reached base in all three of her plate appearances with two singles, a walk and a run scored.

“This team worked very hard,” said Richmond coach Rick Coughlin, who’s led the program to seven state titles in 29 seasons. “Of course, they were all back. They all wanted it again, and every practice they focused and worked hard.”

Richmond (18-0) made Stearns (14-7) pay for each of its five errors. The Bobcats made three errors themselves, including one that cost them in the second inning. But they made up for it by throwing out two runners on the bases, one at home plate and one at third base.

“Very, very big,” Coughlin said. “We played some good defense. We made a few errors, but those types of plays show that we can play the game.”

Stearns tried to make that same statement in the top of the first with two runs off Richmond sophomore pitcher Meranda Martin (seven innings, nine hits, three earned runs, four strikeouts, three walks). Jessicca Girsa and Lauren Jamo started the game with singles and eventually scored on a bases-loaded walk to Abby Russell and single by Madeline Morrison.

Morrison’s single helped swing momentum in the Bobcats’ favor, however, as Hurley took the relay from center fielder Autumn Acord and threw Grace Farrington out at the plate to end the inning.

Two Stearns errors in the bottom of the frame helped the Bobcats take the lead off Girsa, as did a rope to right field for a stand-up RBI triple by Tilton and Obie’s single to plate her with the tying run.

Harriman followed with her two-out single to make it 4-2.

“It was very important,” Martin said of the Bobcats’ first-inning answer. “They had the momentum going their way. We just turned the game around and starting hitting the ball.”

“Once the momentum goes our way, we just get into our game and we just feel comfortable,” she added.

The Minutemen got an unearned run back in the top of the second, but the Bobcats doubled that output again in their half of the inning When Kelsea Anair scored Hurley on a ground out and Tilton and Obi hit back-to-back doubles.

In the fourth, an alert Martin scored from third on an errant throw back to the pitcher on a pitch to Obi, and Anair followed her home when the catcher’s throw to third on the same play went into left field to make it 8-3.

“We made some crucial defensive mistakes that Richmond took advantage of,” Stearns coach Nick Cullen said. “That’s what they do. They put the ball in play. They put pressure on you to make plays, and we just had a couple of innings that we couldn’t make the big play when we needed it and that is the difference.”

The most unusual miscue came in the fifth. It didn’t go into the box score as an error but was another example of alert baserunning by the Bobcats.

Kalah Patterson led the inning off with a double, then went to third when shortstop Audrey Dunstan fielded Emily Douin’s grounder and pulled the first baseman off the bag with her throw. Harriman followed with a pop to short that Dunstan caught while Douin was breaking for second. Dunstan ran across the diamond to tag first base herself for the double play, but Patterson tagged up from third and scored the Bobcats’ ninth run.

Martin settled into the circle for the middle innings and retired nine of the 10 batters. She got a boost when Harriman took a relay from Acord on Hannah Brooker’s single to gun down Russell at third base.

Stearns scored its final run in the sixth on a wild pitch, but that was all they could muster off Martin, who set off yet another Bobcats victory celebration with a called strike three to end it.

“After last year, I was just hoping that this year was going to be even better,” Harriman said. “I knew that after we won Western Maine that this game was going to be the game that we needed. We won, and I couldn’t be any prouder of my team.”

“It feels so good,” Martin added. “And it never gets old, either.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

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Twitter: @RAWmaterial33