RICHMOND — Richmond softball coach Tony Martin was on hand as a spectator the last time the Bobcats lost a game. That was in 2012 and his daughter, Leandra, was a pitcher on the team that fell 4-2 in the Class D state championship game.

The Bobcats have since reeled off 88 straight wins and four consecutive state titles. They’ll go for a fifth Saturday at St. Joseph’s College when they square off against North champ Penobscot Valley.

Coincidentally, the Howlers were the last team to beat Richmond, that day behind Kayla Dube, who fanned 14 batters. The Bobcats face a similar strikeout pitcher Saturday in Penobscot freshman Leine McKechnie, who struck out 19 batters in eight innings against Southern Aroostook in the regional championship game this week.

Martin knows McKechnie by reputation only and has not scouted the Howlers.

“Sometimes you’re better off not to,” he said. “I know she has some speed and some offspeed.”

During the regular season, McKechnie struck out 203 batters in 101 innings while allowing 31 hits and walking 48. She sports a 0.90 ERA.

“She’s a very strong young lady,” Penobscot Valley coach Pat Leonard said. “She has a resource of weapons that she throws. The fastball is pretty good.”

Martin was undecided Friday whom he start in the circle Saturday: Senior daughter Meranda or junior Sydney Tilton. Martin has been the team’s primary pitcher while Tilton has mainly caught while pitching a few games. Tilton relieved Martin in the regional championship win against Greenville and threw effectively. When she went to the mound, Martin took over behind the plate.

Leonard hasn’t seen Richmond play, either, but is aware of Martin, whom he calls “one of the fastest players in the state.”

The Bobcats have rarely faced a pitcher of McKechnie’s speed and caliber. They fanned 14 times against Class C Traip Academy pitcher Reilly Eddy. They managed to pull out a 2-1 win in the seventh inning to keep their streak alive. As he did in that game, Martin doesn’t anticipate going to any particular small ball strategy against McKechnie, at least not early in the game.

“I’ll stay with what I’ve been doing,” he said. “It’s working for us. We’re going to have to see the ball and hit it. Once the girls get through the lineup once ”

Both teams have hit and scored runs. Leonard was reluctant to release any statistics less they give the Bobcats too much information, but said his team averaged 10 hits a game during the regular season. During the playoffs, key batters for the Howlers have been junior catcher Kortney McKechnie and Elizabeth McKinnon and Miranda Brown, the team’s only seniors.

Richmond’s defense and batting order is a mixture of youth and experience. Sophomore Caitlin Kendrick and freshman Bri Lancaster have taken over at short and second, respectively, while seniors Camryn Hurley and Cassidy Harriman play third and first. Senior center fielder Mackenzie Abbott has solidified the outfield.

According to the National Federation of High School sports, only four teams have had more consecutive wins than the Bobcats. But Martin said his team is mainly focused on getting the next one.

“They don’t talk about it much which is good,” he said of the streak. I just want the kids to relax and have fun.”

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