The Skowhegan softball team finished 16-0 for the first time in coach Lee Johnson’s 18 years at the helm.

While it’s a cause for celebration for the Indians, it’s also a small step of what they hope will be a long journey back to the Class A state title game.

The Indians have appeared in four of the past five Class A state games, winning in 2014. They brought everyone back from a team that last year lost 3-0 to Scarborough in the state final and has been a target ever since.

“They’re prepared for it,” Johnson said of his team. “That’s what you get when you win back-to-back Northern Maine championships.”

In Thursday’s quarterfinal, Skowhegan will face Bangor, a team it beat 4-1 in the regular season. The Indians have relied on pitching and defense, while the offense has been up and down. Ashley Alward (9-0) and Sydney Ames (7-0) have combined for seven shutouts and haven’t allowed more than three runs in any game.

“We’ve got two kids that really challenge the opposition,” Johnson said. “We rely on pitching and defense and hopefully we hit.”

In another Class A North rematch, No. 4 Messalonskee hosts No. 5 Edward Little at 4 p.m., Wednesday. Both teams finished 9-7, with Messalonskee winning the regular-season meeting 4-2.

Gardiner coach Don Brochu hopes his team can replicate their regular-season finale, a 15-0 win against Cony, in the Class B North playoffs. The shutout was the third of the season for junior Jillian Bisson.

“It was one of the better games she pitched all season,” Brochu said. “We came out hitting finally. That’s what we have to do in the playoffs.”

The eighth-seeded Tigers (10-6) host No. 9 Lawrence (8-8) in a prelim game Tuesday. Last Friday, Lawrence beat Gardiner on its home field 3-1 behind the pitching of Samantha Marshall and a home run from Haley Holt.

“We didn’t hit with them,” Brochu said. “They played well.”

The Tigers are juggling their lineup due to injuries to outfielders Maggie Bell and Kylie Sirois, and Brochu said performance in practice will dictate who plays where.

In another Class B North prelim, No. 7 Winslow (11-5) hosts No. 10 Nokomis (9-7) on Tuesday. Winslow won the regular-season meeting 8-3. In a Class B South quarterfinal game Thursday, No. 5 Oak Hill (13-3) travels to Bath to take on No. 4 Morse (12-4). The teams didn’t play in the regular season.

In the competitive Class C South tournament, defending champion Madison finished 16-0 and drew the top seed. The Bulldogs are a favorite, if not a prohibitive one.

“Two teams had them on the ropes,” said Winthrop coach Chuck Gurney, whose Ramblers lost 1-0 to Madison. “I would not be shocked to see any of the top six seeds end up in the regional final.”

Winthrop (12-4) finished fourth and will host No. 5 Monmouth (11-5) in quarterfinal game at 4 p.m., Thursday. The Ramblers won the regular-season meeting 4-3.

“It should be a pretty good pitching matchup between (Winthrop’s Layne) Audet and (Monmouth’s Emily) Chasse,” Gurney said.

Madison (16-0) hosts the winner of Monday’s prelim between No. 8 Hall-Dale (8-8) and No. 9 Maranacook (8-8). The teams didn’t play in the regular season.

In another intriguing Class C South game, No. 3 Lisbon (12-4) hosts No. 6 Carrabec (10-6). Lisbon won the regular-season meeting 7-2.

For the first time in a few years, Richmond didn’t finish first in the Class D South standings. The Bobcats (14-1) finished second to Greenville, a team they didn’t play in the regular season. Richmond saw its 88-game win streak and four straight Class D state championships come to an end in the state final a year ago. The Bobcats’ only loss this season came to Class C Sacopee Valley. In the quarterfinals they’ll host No. 7 Rangeley (4-9), a team they defeated twice in the regular season. In another Class D South game No. 3 Buckfield (12-4) hosts No. 6 Temple (6-9), a team the Bucks beat twice this season.

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