GORHAM — Members of the Hall-Dale softball team wear a variety of headgear in the dugout during their games in a modern-day version of the rally cap of yore. Cowboy hats. Construction helmets. Party hats.

The latter might be most appropriate, as there are plenty of reason for the Bulldogs to celebrate these days.

Hall-Dale hurler Rita Benoit struck out 12 batters and Monmouth’s defense committed seven errors as the undefeated and second-seeded Bulldogs handled the top-ranked Mustangs 15-3 in the Class C South softball final Wednesday night at the University of Southern Maine’s Husky Softball Field.

Hall-Dale (19-0), which ran its winning streak to 55 games, is scheduled to face Bucksport (19-0) for the state title on Saturday back at Gorham. Bucksport defeated Mattanawcook 8-1 in the C North final Wednesday.The Bulldogs are looking to be the first team to win three straight state softball crowns since Madison won four in a row from 1994-97.

“It feels amazing. My voice is dead from all the yelling,” said Benoit, who allowed only three hits — all doubles to Shannah Parsons — and walked one batter. “It was just such a fun game and such a fun atmosphere. It was a blast.”

Torie Tibbetts had three hits and scored three runs for Hall-Dale, which broke open a 1-1 game in the third with nine runs on four hits, three walks and five errors. No. 9 hitter Karalyn Coro had three hits and scored twice, while teammate Zoe Soule walked three times and scored twice for the Bulldogs.


The game was supposed to be a showcase between two of Maine’s elite pitchers, Hall-Dale’s Benoit and Monmouth’s Brooklyn Federico, a Miss Maine Softball finalist. But the Bulldogs had other ideas in the third, when the first seven Bulldogs reached base before Federico could record an out.

Coro and Tibbetts led off with singles, Benoit reached on a throwing error and Soule and Ashlynn Donahue walked. Jade Graham reached on a fielder’s choice and Lucy Gray reached on a two-base throwing error that scored Rita Benoit and Soule. After Marie Benoit grounded out for the first out of the inning, Mira Skehan’s groundout scored Gray.

Hall-Dale players celebrate Wednesday’s victory over Monmouth Academy at USM in Gorham, where they will play for the state championship on Saturday. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Singles by Coro, Tibbetts and Rita Benoit, with a couple more errors sprinkled in, completed the rally.

Hall-Dale coach Steve Acedo credited the big inning to aggressiveness: Attack the strike zone at the plate and run the bases with no fear, all while forcing Monmouth to handle the ball more frequently.

“It was probably one of our better-hitting games this season,” Acedo said. “It was a good time to do it.”

Tibbetts and Coro each had two hits and two runs scored in the inning as 14 Bulldogs reached the plate.


“It was kinda of a nightmare defensive inning that set us back on our heels,” Monmouth coach Dave Kaplan said. “It’s tough to overcome. The kids were nervous; really nervous.”

Coro’s two-run single in the fourth boosted the Bulldogs’ lead to 12-1. Hall-Dale added three more in the fifth on Jade Graham’s two-run double and Marie Benoit’s RBI single.

Rita Benoit, meanwhile, was all business after the first. Her first seven outs came via strikeout, and she retried six straight batters after a walk to open the second.

“She’s been consistent on the mound for us all year,” Acedo said. “We were going to ride all the way through with her, no matter what the score was. She showed up, pitched a good game.”

Federico allowed all 15 runs on seven hits and four walks.

Hall-Dale pitcher Rita Benoit winds up for a pitch during Wednesday’s regional championship game against Monmouth Academy in Gorham. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

“Brooklyn’s been tough all year, I wouldn’t take away anything from her,” Kaplan said. “Defensively, we kind of let her down a bit. That’s what happens.”


Hall-Dale’s Tibbetts started the action in the top of the first inning when she tripled on the second pitch of the game and scored on a wild pitch, but Monmouth quickly tied the score in the bottom of the frame when Parsons doubled home Federico.

Parsons drove in two more runs in the fifth on her third two-bagger.

While Monmouth’s season ended on a sour note, Kaplan had plenty of reason to celebrate his team’s accomplishments. The Mustangs (17-2) won three games by one run, including Saturday’s 1-0 win over Spruce Mountain in the semifinals.

“It was an amazing season.” Kaplan said. “We had injuries, we were down to nine players at one time and kept bouncing back and winning close games and got here. I don’t think anybody at the start of the year gave us much of a chance to get this far. I’m really, really proud of these kids for the way they’ve come back all year, fought back, fought to get here.”

Hall-Dale defeated Monmouth 5-1 in their lone regular season meeting May 19.

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