FARMINGDALE — Steve Acedo knows his team has little margin for error.

With nearly the entire roster returning from last year’s state championship-winning squad, Acedo, the head coach of the Hall-Dale softball team, has a situation any coach would envy. It’s not exactly typical that a team with 26 straight wins and a shiny gold trophy to its name would be on its toes at all times, especially during the regular season.

This Class C South field, though, is anything but your typical collection of teams. The division is loaded with a number of championship-caliber squads keeping the pressure on one another at all times.

“There are a lot of really good teams right now,” said Acedo, whose team sank Dirigo 10-0 in a six-inning game Monday. “One through five, you’ve got teams that all have good pitchers and can put the bat on the ball. “It’s exciting, but you really have to bring your A-game.”

Undefeated Hall-Dale (9-0) and Monmouth Academy (8-0), one-loss Madison (9-1) and two-loss Maranacook (11-2), and a Sacopee Valley team (8-3) with multiple key wins all thoroughly impressed in the first half of the season. The result is a Class C South that’s as strong as it’s ever been — and a stretch run and postseason looking to be full of juggernaut clashes.

For years, Class C South (or West from 2012-14) belonged to Madison. The Bulldogs established themselves as the premier program in the division as it won six regional championships in seven years and brought home state titles in 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019.


Madison’s winning tradition is still going strong in 2022. Yet, although the Bulldogs have an elite pitcher in Brooke McKenney as well as a potent lineup, they find themselves third in the Class C South standings after a 6-1 loss to Hall-Dale earlier this month.

“Hall-Dale really took it to us, but since then, I think we’ve responded pretty well,” said Madison head coach Chris LeBlanc, whose team has outscored opponents 63-1 in the five games since the loss. “We’re hitting the ball well, and we obviously have a great pitcher in Brooke.”

One of the two teams ahead of Madison in the Class C South standings is Monmouth. The No. 2 Mustangs sailed through the first half of the regular season unblemished with even the team’s closest game, a 5-0 win April 30 against Oak Hill, not exactly being a nailbiter.

All eight of Monmouth’s wins have been with Brooklyn Federico in the circle. The junior ace threw a one-hitter with 12 strikeouts in her first game as a varsity pitcher a year ago, and as evident in her two shutouts and four starts with only one or two runs allowed this year, she hasn’t slowed down since.

Hall-Dale softball players encourage a teammate at the plate during a game against Dirigo on Monday in Farmingdale. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

“I think all the top teams this year have that one really good pitcher, and for us, it’s Brooklyn,” Monmouth head coach Dave Kaplan said. “We’ve had a pretty good season so far, but we still have some of our biggest games ahead. Our schedule is very back-loaded this year.”

Ranked fourth is Sacopee Valley (8-3), which boasts a win over a Lake Region team that’s one of the better squads in Class B South. The Hawks also split a May 7 doubleheader with Maranacook, which, with only three regular season games remaining, will be more rested for the playoffs than anyone.


The path to the regional title, LeBlanc and Kaplan both agree, runs through the defending champs. Just as Madison used to be the team with a target on its back, Hall-Dale is now the team that’s gone from the hunter to the hunted. It’s a level of respect the Bulldogs deserve after winning 26 consecutive games.

“They’re in a tier above everyone else right now,” Kaplan said of Hall-Dale. “A lot of teams, they have a good pitcher and a few kids in the lineup who can really hit the ball and play great defense, but their whole lineup can do that. If someone wants to beat them, they’re going to have to play a perfect game.”

Hall-Dale, as Kaplan noted, prides itself on its defense. The Bulldogs have two reliable arms in pitchers Ashlynn Donahue and Rita Benoit as well as an outstanding offense at nearly 14 runs per game, but it’s the team’s prowess in the field that makes Hall-Dale stand out.

Pitcher Alexis Michaud of Maranacook Community High School throws during a softball game earlier this season at the David McPhedran Athletic Fields in Readfield. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“We’re all very proud of our defense,” Hall-Dale catcher Zoe Soule said. “Whether it’s our infielders or our infielders, we all work on it a lot. We know that it’s always there to back us up if, let’s say, we have a bad day hitting or something.”

Thus far, there’s only been one meeting between any of Class C South’s top-five teams. That came in Hall-Dale’s aforementioned May 6 win over Madison, which ended the latter’s streak of four straight Southern Maine titles.

That’s all about to change in the weeks to come. Madison and Monmouth will face each other twice, and the Mustangs will also meet Hall-Dale on Friday in a battle of the lone remaining unbeaten teams in Class C.

“We’re going to be seeing a lot of good softball, especially as we get toward the playoffs,” Acedo said. “I think those semis are going to be some really good games. No matter who you get, it’s going to be tough.”

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