It is days like Saturday that give creedance to cliches about counting chickens and judging books.

Few outside of Oakland expected the Messalonskee High softball team to beat previously undefeated Scarborough for the Class A championship Saturday at Cony High School. The opposite was true for the team from Richmond, who carried a 51-game winning streak into its Class D championship game against Stearns at Richard W. Bailey Field in Standish.

In the cases of both the Eagles and Bobcats, though, each overcame not only their opponents, but the expectations and pressure that comes with playing in a state championship game. Messalonskee earned a 1-0 win on a first-inning home run from Kristy Prelgovisk and strong outing from pitcher Kirsten Pelletier, while Richmond clubbed its way to a 9-4 victory.

“They’ve got a great support system around us. The parents, the administration, their schoolmates (and) classmates, they believed in our group,” Messalonskee coach Leo Bouchard said. “Outside of that, they really don’t listen to it. There’s the trash talking you get from other teams … (but) you just tone it out, do your business and let the scoreboard do the talking.”

Bouchard said he had plenty of people outside the community call to say good luck and wish his team well in the days leading up to the state title game, but he can recall only one person who definitively called the Eagles’ win.

“I had Rocky Gaslin, the coach down at Cony, call me and he said, ‘my money is on you.’ He said, ‘you’re going to win this game,'” Bouchard said. “Rocky was the only one that called it other than us.”

Gaslin said Sunday that he thought Pelletier would give Messalonskee an advantage over the Red Storm. He saw just how good she can be in a May 18 game in Oakland in which the Eagles’ junior right-hander stymied his Rams for nine innings in a 1-0 win for Messalonskee.

“She doesn’t throw really hard, but she has a lot of movement and doesn’t throw a lot of strikes,” Gaslin said. “They’re close enough to make you swing at them. She does a great job of keeping hitters off balance.”

Like Messalonskee, Richmond did its best to focus solely on the game itself, but it is hard to completely tune everything out when you have not lost a game in three years.

“Everybody does expect us to win. We have a lot of pressure on us, not only from our team or our families, but our whole community,” Richmond senior first baseman Kelsie Obi said. “The pressure is on, but we come to play for ourselves and our community. We want to show our community that we can do this, that we came for them and us because they have been a big support too for us.”

“We came here thinking we’ve got to win … because we’re on a 52-game winning streak,” added junior third baseman Kelsea Anair. “It’s something to live up to.

“Personally, I just go out and try to do my best for my team because I know a lot of people are counting on us to keep that streak going.”

For both Richmond and Messalonskee, that pressure will return next year as each team returns the majority of their rosters and will be in the mix to defend their titles.

If this spring was any indication, though, each will be well suited to manage those expectations.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.