FARMINGDALE — After winning the Class C championship last year, the Hall-Dale softball team not only gets to bask in the glory of the title this spring, but gets to do it with almost all of the players who won that title back in the fold.

So, easy, right? Defending champions, nearly everyone back? Nothing to worry about?

Not quite. Writing a good story is challenging enough, but as the conventional wisdom goes, making the sequel as good can be even more difficult. But the Bulldogs are eager to try.

“Oh yeah. You still want to make strides, and improve,” coach Steve Acedo said. “We have three or four freshmen this year that are pushing the kids that came back from last year, and they’re filling some holes right now and doing a good job for us. In the end, it’s going to make us a stronger team than we had last year.”

The Bulldogs are off to an encouraging start. After not playing its best in a victory over Telstar to start the season, Hall-Dale improved to 2-0 with a 22-0 victory over Spruce Mountain on Monday. The Bulldogs got a five-inning perfect game from junior Rita Benoit and made hard contact early and often at the plate.

“We had a great performance. We came together as a team and we hit, finally,” said Benoit, who struck out 12 of the 15 Phoenix batters she faced while also going 2-for-5 with three runs. “We had a game against Telstar, we were a little bit slow with our bats at the beginning of the game. But I think the big thing for us is just getting our bats going right away, and then of course starting strong in the field.”


This was more in line with what the Bulldogs have been expecting of themselves than the Telstar victory, which saw them held scoreless through four innings before they broke out in the fifth. There’s a sense of urgency this season, one that comes with being the team that won the championship last season and that everyone is eager to take down this time around.

“There’s a little more pressure. Teams know we’re good, teams know we’re going to come ready to play,” said senior shortstop Emma Soule, who went 1-for-2 with three RBIs and two runs. “And teams are ready for us this year.”

Hall-Dale’s Zoe Soule slides into second ahead of the tag by Spruce Mountain’s Leah Burgess during softball action Monday in Farmingdale. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

“We know people are on our backs,” said senior center fielder Tanley Tibbetts, who went 1-for-2 with three runs and two RBIs. “We’ve talked about it at pretty much every practice since the season has started. Even in preseason when we were just throwing inside, we talked about how people were going to come after us this year.”

There’s also urgency this time from a timing standpoint. As talented and ultimately championship-ready as the Bulldogs were last season, their title window was wide open with shortstop Sarah Benner the only one who wouldn’t be returning to the starting lineup. This year, with five seniors in Tibbetts, Soule, Sammy Thornton, Lily Platt and Faith Alexander, Hall-Dale has one final go at more hardware with a big part of their core.

“We’ve been playing since a young age, and we’ve been with each other for many years now,” Tibbetts said. “To think that this is our last year, there is more urgency to want to go out with a bang, and make sure we end on a good note.”

That’s the impression Acedo has as well.

“They’re pulling for each other this year, especially that senior group,” he said. “They want to get back where they were, the younger kids are pushing them, everyone’s working together and picking each other up.”

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