STANDISH — Before the rally, before the second rally, and before the celebration, Mariah Whittemore had a feeling this time was going to be different.

The Skowhegan softball team had lost the last three Class A championship games it had played. But hours before the River Hawks took the field Saturday, their senior third baseman got a hunch this ending wouldn’t be like the others.

“We went to practice at 10:30 this morning … and we were ready,” she said. “Everything went perfect for us. We were absolutely ready for this.”

Skowhegan then went out and proved it, rallying for three runs in the top of the seventh to break a late tie and win the Class A championship with a 7-4 victory over Biddeford at Richard W. Bailey Field at Saint Joseph’s College.

“It’s outstanding. It’s such an amazing feeling,” Whittemore said. “I didn’t want it to end any other way. We worked hard, we deserved this.”

“It feels so good. We’ve been here a couple of times, and it feels good to actually win it,” right fielder Logan Wing said. “And being a senior, it’s a great way to end.”

Skowhegan’s first state title since 2014, and third since 1993, wrapped its season up at 19-1, while Biddeford finished at 17-4. En route to the title, Skowhegan erased a 3-2 deficit, and then had to rally back after Biddeford’s Baylor Wilkinson slammed a game-tying home run to left field in the bottom of the sixth.

Skowhegans Annabelle Morris, (1) left, and Jaycie Christopher (7) celebrate at home plate after they both scored on a double by teammate Emily Dunbar that put the River Hawks up 2-0 in the first inning of the Class A softball state championship game Saturday at Bailey Field in Standish. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

“Both teams were fighting, competing, and momentum kept going back and forth,” Skowhegan coach Lee Johnson said. “And fortunately for us, we were able to get the momentum at the end.”

Regaining momentum after a gut punch like Wilkinson’s home run isn’t easy. Shaking off setbacks, however, has been a Skowhegan strength.

“They do a great job of having a short memory. We talk about it all the time,” Johnson said. “You can’t dwell on negative things.”

Freshman Annabelle Morris (three runs) led off the seventh with a single, and after Jaycie Christopher lined out to center, Whittemore slammed a double to deep right field. Johnson held Morris at third, then frantically tried to send her home after the throw to the plate went to the backstop, to no avail.

“I was like ‘Oh, Annabelle, go!'” Whittemore said. “But I knew it was going to happen. Other people on the team were going to (come through) too.”

Johnson knew Skowhegan had missed a chance, but was confident it would get another.

“You’ve got to think positive,” he said. “Can’t think negative.”

Sure enough, a pitch soon after went to the backstop, and Morris took off without hesitation to score the go-ahead run.

“As soon as that ball got past, I was going to go,” she said. “It felt amazing. I don’t know if I can explain it, it felt so great, especially as a freshman.”

Skowhegan wasn’t finished, as Biddeford’s reliable defense began to crack. Sierra Carey grounded to short, but an error allowed Whittemore to score. Madalynne Morris followed with another grounder to short, and another error allowed Emma Smith, pinch-running for Emily Dunbar, to come home and make it 7-4.

Skowhegan shortstop Jaycie Christopher waves a box of Frosted Flakes as the River Hawk dugout celebrates another run during a 3-run rally on the way to beating Biddeford 7-4 in the Class A softball state championship game Saturday in Standish. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

In the bottom half, an error put the leadoff hitter on, but Carey got a lineout to Christopher, and then a pop-up to the mound turned into a double play to end the game.

“Put pressure on the defense, make them make plays, absolutely,” Johnson said. “And that inning there, we hit some balls hard early in the game that were caught, that should be in gaps. It’s a funny game how everything works out sometimes.”

Carey, a sophomore, allowed three earned runs and four hits while striking out six in seven nervy innings.

“First year as a varsity pitcher, and that kid goes out and competes like that,” Johnson said. “That says a lot about that kid.”

Skowhegan took a 2-0 lead in the first when Annabelle Morris singled, Christopher walked and both scored on an error on Dunbar’s grounder. Biddeford answered in the bottom of the first on Wilkinson’s RBI single, and then scored twice in the fourth on Hannah Gosselin’s single up the middle.

Skowhegan responded in the fifth with an RBI single from Christopher, and then took the lead in the sixth on an RBI single from Callaway LePage.

Biddeford wasn’t finished, as Wilkinson, who homered in the A South victory over Marshwood, homered off a shed in left field to tie the game.

“That’s Baylor. She loves the limelight, she loves big games,” said Tigers coach Mike Fecteau, who got four strikeouts from Charlotte Donovan. “It’s heartbreaking for the girls. All season long, and especially in the playoffs, they fought hard, they battled. … With Baylor hitting that home run, that brought a lot of energy to us. And then for them to come back and answer, it was heartbreaking.”

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