The Scarborough High softball team gathers as friends, family and fans take photographs after the Red Storm won the Class A softball state championship game in June. Michael G. Seamans photos/Morning Sentinel

It is the last practice before the state championship game and the Scarborough High softball players are excited for what’s to come. A kickball game.

This is how Tom Griffin always ends the final practice before a state game. It’s a clash of upperclassmen versus underclassmen. Those sides were battled-tested during practices all season, playing a series of games, mostly batting, with points kept throughout the spring to determine an overall winner. This year, it was the underclassmen. They won the kickball game, too.

“We do a lot of things that have a purpose, but are fun,” said Griffin, who just finished his 30th year at Scarborough. “We have three or four different hitting games, and we play one of them every day at the end of practice. It’s fun, but there’s also a purpose – they’re in a competition and they need to focus so their team can win.

“The idea is, the more pressure we can make in practice, the easier it’s going to be in a pressure situation in a game.”

And it showed this spring. Scarborough softball is our choice as the Varsity Maine Girls’ Team of the Year. The Red Storm completed their third consecutive undefeated season by beating Skowhegan 11-1 for their third Class A state title in a row. They extended their winning streak to 60 games.

Even with Scarborough’s annual success – it has won seven state championships since 2007 – this was unexpected. Scarborough had graduated seven starters from the 2018 title team and started three freshmen and two sophomores. But their level of play seldom faltered.

Why? Preparation and chemistry.

Griffin and his staff, which includes long-time assistants Charlie Andreson and Liz Winslow as well as Paul Murrell and Mike Bogart, go over every possible situation during practices so that their players are prepared for anything in a game.

“Our coaches don’t allow us to go through the motions,” said senior second baseman Courtney Brochu. “We do a lot of situational stuff that I don’t think a lot of teams do. We do a lot of stuff that probably won’t happen in a game, but if does, we’re prepared.”

“We stress fundamentals,” said Griffin. “You don’t want to over-coach them, but you need to make sure they understand how to handle themselves and react accordingly.”

This was also a very close team, a bond forged in their preseason trip to Florida. Star junior pitcher Bella Dickinson said the players became more than just teammates during that week. During the season, they would get together at a player’s home on weekends, maybe to watch a movie, or have a bonfire and play cornhole.

“We got to know one another,” said Dickinson. “I think the friendships we made and the trust that we had with each other to get it done on the field was definitely a key factor in the season. We got stronger as the season went on, we learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses and learned everyone’s style of play.”

And once again they were unbeatable.

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