SKOWHEGAN — When the Skowhegan softball team last faced Messalonskee pitcher Danielle Hall — who whiffed 12 on the final day of the regular season on May 30 — it needed late heroics to keep its unblemished record in tact.

That was nine days ago. It felt like nine years.

No. 1 Skowhegan kept the pressure on from start to finish Saturday, never giving in to Hall en route to a 9-0 victory over the fifth-seeded Eagles in a Class A North semifinal. Senior Mariah Dunbar was 4 for 4 with three runs batted in as part of a 14-hit attack for Skowhegan, while catcher Sydney Reed doubled as part of her three-RBI effort.

Skowhegan’s Mariah Dunbar makes a play at first base during a Class A North semifinal game against Messalonskee on Saturday afternoon in Skowhegan. Photo by Jennifer Bechard

The victory sent Skowhegan (18-0) — which beat Messalonskee (12-6) three times this season — off to a rematch of last year’s regional final on Wednesday against Oxford Hills. That regional title game, the fourth in a row for Skowhegan, will be at a place and time to be determined after athletic directors were notified that Cony High School’s field will not be ready for use.

“I want to take back what we lost last year,” said senior pitcher Sydney Ames, who pitched a two-hit shutout with four strikeouts against just one walk.

No. 2 Oxford Hills defeated Bangor 10-0 in the other regional semi on Saturday. A decision on the site for the Class A North final is expected Monday.

Skowhegan got the early jump on Messalonskee with two runs in the first inning. Ames scored on a Reed groundout following her leadoff triple and Dunbar did damage to score Jaycie Christopher (3 for 4).

In the fourth the lead grew to 5-0, as Reed roped a two-run double and Dunbar brought her in with a two-out single.

“I think we just came out more aggressive,” Dunbar said. “Coach is always telling us we have to be more aggressive at the plate and be ready to hit whatever comes at you. I think we did that a lot better today.”

Skowhegan swung early and often in counts against Hall, whose first strikeout didn’t come until the sixth inning.

“I think we came with a little bit different attitude today. I’m pretty proud of them,” Skowhegan coach Lee Johnson said. “Today was probably the best offensive approach we’ve had. … We’re going to have to play like that against (Oxford Hills). We know that. It’s one game at a time.”

The Skowhegan softball team celebrates after they defeated Messalonskee in a Class A North semifinal game Saturday afternoon in Skowhegan. Photo by Jennifer Bechard

Meanwhile, Ames was enjoying one of her best outings in the circle this season.

Messalonskee’s first hit came on Kate Douglass’ two-out single in the second. The next one didn’t come until the sixth, when Brooke Martin dropped a double into center field — ahead of center fielder Alyssa Everett, who’d lost the high fly ball in the sun.

From the second through fifth innings, Ames retired 10 straight batters. In the fifth, she induced three straight groundballs to Mariah Whittemore at third base to retire the Eagle side on just six pitches.

The Skowhegan defense gunned down two runners at third base, once by Amber Merry (2 for 3, RBI) from right field in the second and one by Ames after fielding a comebacker in the sixth.

“Overall, it was a better game for myself,” said Ames, who has yet to allow a run this postseason. “The game plan was just to focus on myself and my mechanics and not think about the pitch too much. If it goes good, it goes good. It ended up going good. Thank god for my teammates — they make me look good.”

“She threw very well today,” Johnson said. “She had command of a lot of different things. We made a few adjustments on how we went after them a little bit, but she commanded the strike zone quite a bit today.”

Skowhegan added four insurance runs in the sixth, with Dunbar again driving in a score and Everett bringing to more home on her single to left.

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