ORONO — In a span of seconds, a game that could have been penciled in as a championship win for the Oxford Hills softball team was suddenly up in the air.

Just as quickly, the Vikings took the game back — and with it, they also took the regional title, defeating Skowhegan 4-3 in the Class A North championship game at the University of Maine.

Maddy Miller hit a walk-off single for Oxford Hills in the bottom of the seventh after a dropped fly ball that would have sealed the win in the top half scored two runs that allowed Skowhegan to tie the game. The Vikings advanced to play Class A South champ Windham (17-2) in Saturday’s state title game.

“We knew that, no matter what happened, we still had an opportunity to finish it,” said Oxford Hills head coach Cindy Goddard. “We started the game strong, and we knew we could finish the game strong. We wanted the finishing say, and we got the finishing say.”

No. 1 Oxford Hills (18-1) did, indeed, start fast. The Vikings used a double from Miah Gallan, a walk from Maddy Miller and some aggressive baserunning on passed balls to take a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Morse then clubbed a solo home run to left for the Vikings’ third run of the inning.

Oxford Hills put runners on in the second and third innings but failed to score on both occasions. No. 3 Skowhegan (16-3) then pulled a run back in the fourth as a single by Jackie Dodge went all the way to the wall on an error to allow Callaway LePage to score from third base.


Although Oxford Hills put runners in scoring position in the fifth and sixth innings, the Vikings again failed to add to the lead. Then, with two outs and runners on second and third, a soft fly ball by Skowhegan’s Lydia Jones was dropped to allow Jasmine Merrill-Stetson and Ari Linkletter to score and tie the game.

Oxford Hills pitcher Kyeria Morse pitched into the seventh inning of the Class A North final Wednesday night at the University of Maine in Orono. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“We found a way to battle it out and keep grinding it out and play good defense to give ourselves a chance, and we gave ourselves a chance and tied it up,” said Skowhegan head coach Lee Johnson. “It was 3-0, and we were behind the whole game. We could have hung our heads, but we didn’t; we fought back.”

Yet Oxford Hills had a response of its own left, and it didn’t take long for the Vikings to issue it. After Attie Campbell singled to begin the inning, she advanced to third on an error that left Miah Gallan safe at first. An intentional walk then sent Miller to the plate, and the senior won it with a gapper to right-center.

“We’ve been practicing hitting that outside corner over to right field,” Miller said. “We kept saying, ‘She’s going to pitch this; we know she’s going to pitch this,’ so we’ve been putting the machine out there. I just took my step out and was able to hit it out there, and it felt really good.”

Morse struck out four batters and issued two walks and zero earned runs in 6 2/3 innings of work for Oxford Hills before Cam Mayhan came on for the final out of the seventh. Lily Noyes pitched six innings for Skowhegan, striking out two batters and walking one in the loss.

Coming back from a 180 of emotions could have been a challenge for a young Oxford Hills team that starts four freshmen and two sophomores. Instead, the Vikings rose to the challenge, starting with the key hit by the freshman Campbell, and with the bases loaded, one of their veterans took it upon herself to end it.


Skowhegan pitcher Lillian Noyes (23) makes a tough catch against Oxford Hills during the Class A North final Wednesday night at the University of Maine in Orono. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“I was just like, ‘I’ve got to do this for my team; I’m older, I’m a leader on the team, and they need this from me right now,’” Miller said. “I knew that, if I stay up, the rest of the team stays up. It was important for us that we couldn’t let ourselves get down in a game like this.”

The loss brought about a tough conclusion to an otherwise solid year for Skowhegan. After loss of key personnel, including 2022 Miss Maine Softball winner Jaycie Christopher, a River Hawks team with only two seniors made a seventh straight regional final in a season Johnson called “a huge accomplishment.”

Classic games between Skowhegan and Oxford Hills have become the norm, both this season and over the past few. The River Hawks eliminated the Vikings by scores of 3-2 and 4-3 in the 2021 and 2022 semifinals, respectively. Oxford Hills topped Skowhegan 2-1 in this year’s regular season finale.

“We hoped it was going to be another one of those grind-it-out games where we could find a way, but they pulled it out in the end,” Johnson said. “We’ve had some good battles with them; we had a great battle with them in that last (regular season game). They’re a good team, and so are we.”

Now, Oxford Hills will get the chance to win the program’s first state title since 1999. A win over Windham would cap off a remarkable year in athletics at the school, which also won state championships in football, girls basketball and cheerleading.

“It would be so amazing (to win one more),” Miller said. “I was part of the basketball team, and that was just surreal. Now that we’re past this hurdle, I’m so excited to see what we can do.”

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