Skowhegan celebrates after beating Biddeford 7-4 in the Class A softball state championship game on Saturday at St. Joseph’s College in Standish. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

STANDISH — The Skowhegan softball team had already been waiting seven years for a state championship, and the River Hawks had to wait even longer as a weather delay held up the start of the Class A championship game.

The players, however, were relaxed. While waiting, the River Hawks gathered and sang as Rihanna’s “We Found Love” thumped from inside the bus. Nearly two hours later, the Skowhegan players were celebrating again, this time after a 7-4 victory over Biddeford that made them state champions for the first time since 2014 and second time since 1993.

According to junior shortstop Jaycie Christopher, the two scenes weren’t unrelated.

“Our team’s gotten really close. … We’ve been playing together a long time,” she said. “I truly believe that our team chemistry is what has gotten us to this point. We have a lot of talent, but I think what puts us over the top is how close we all are.”

Skowhegan’s victory was a highlight on a big day for the central Maine area that saw five teams compete for state championships. Two, the Skowhegan and Hall-Dale softball teams, came home with hardware.

For Skowhegan, which had lost in the A final three times in the last five seasons, the victory was a roller coaster ride. The River Hawks took a 2-0 lead, lost it, trailed, took the lead again, and lost it once more on a Baylor Wilkinson home run in the sixth.

The Hall-Dale softball team mobs pitcher Rita Benoit, top right, after she threw the final strike during the Class C softball state championship on Saturday in Standish. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

“I think everybody should have been pretty happy with the entertainment they saw,” Skowhegan coach Lee Johnson said.

In the Skowhegan dugout, however, the River Hawks didn’t give in to the highs and lows of the game. Leads came and went, but their confidence didn’t waver.

“With this team, I believed that we were just going to come back from that,” Christopher said. “Yes, it stinks a little bit when it happens, but it’s ‘How can we bounce back?’ It’s always trying to be resilient, and that’s something we talked about all year.”

Skowhegan demonstrated that resilience with a three-run rally in the seventh, and then held in the bottom half for the victory. The River Hawks got contributions from all classes. Mariah Whittemore, a senior, had a key double in the seventh. Christopher, a junior, drove in the tying run in the fifth. Sophomore Sierra Carey got the win in the circle, and classmate Callaway LePage drove in the go-ahead run in the sixth. Freshman Annabelle Morris scored three runs, including the winner.

“Everybody did their part when it was needed,” Christopher said. “Everything just came together for us.”

It was a similar story at Hall-Dale, which saw underclassmen in sophomore Rita Benoit and freshmen Ashlynn Donahue and Zoe Soule play big roles as the Bulldogs polished off an undefeated season.

STANDISH, ME – JUNE 19: Skowhegan River Hawks celebrate after beating Biddeford 704 to win Class A softball state championship Saturday June 19, 2021 on Richard W. Bailey softball field in Standish. (Staff photo by Joe Phelan/Staff Photographer) Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

A favorite all season, Hall-Dale’s confidence matched its hype.

“We definitely saw that we would be here,” junior second baseman Emma Soule said. “I think after the first couple of games, we started to realize that we could do it. This was the year.”

With three runs in the first and two in the third en route to a 5-0 victory over Dexter in the final, Hall-Dale showed its balance and depth. Like Skowhegan, which has made a tradition of competing for regional titles, the Bulldogs could be back; Hall-Dale loses two seniors in Sarah Benner and Savannah Strout, but will return eight of nine players from Saturday’s lineup.

“I think it’s going to be another good season next year, I really do,” Hall-Dale coach Steve Acedo said. “We’re right back where we started.”

The Winslow softball team took its Cinderella run to the Class B championship, but ran into a Cape Elizabeth team that hadn’t lost a game all season and quickly showed why. The talent-rich Capers used a 10-run fifth inning to break open what became a 19-4 victory.

Winslow finished 8-12, having won as many games in the playoffs as it did in the regular season.

“We gave it a great run, and they gave it their very best,” Winslow coach Kasey Larsen said, “but we’re not equipped to deal with a team that can hit nine deep.”

Monmouth Academy pitcher Hayden Fletcher receives a pep talk from senior Cameron Armstrong after Fletcher was removed from the mound during Saturday’s Class C state championship at St. Joseph’s College in Standish. “I just said, ‘Hey, don’t hang your head, man … Listen, I think you’re going to be back here next year,'” Armstong said. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

The Monmouth baseball team also ran into a challenge too steep, falling to Orono 5-0. The Mustangs trailed only 2-0 going into the fifth, but allowed two in that inning and then one in the sixth.

“We couldn’t get things together,” said Monmouth coach Eric Palleschi, whose team returns all but one senior in Cam Armstrong. “…I thought our kids played well.”

Oak Hill/Monmouth/Lisbon boys lacrosse players watch as Waynflete players receive their medals after winning the Class C state championship Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald Buy this Photo

Away from St. Joseph’s College, the Oak Hill/Monmouth/Lisbon boys lacrosse team vied for a Class C championship against Waynflete in Portland, but fell 17-5 at Fitzpatrick Stadium to the defending champions.

“We’re not used to playing in a big game,” Oak Hill coach Joey Hinkley said. “Lot of people here. Big city. And it’s tough when you don’t get to see teams like this during the regular season.”

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