Hall-Dale’s Marie Benoit high-fives first base coach Craig Donahue after a hit against Spruce Mountain during the Class C South softball final Tuesday at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

It’s taken a true team effort for the Hall-Dale softball team to reach its fourth consecutive Class C final.

While the Bulldogs (17-2) outscored opponents 19-0 in their first two playoff games, it was all-hands-on-deck for their biggest game of the season to date, an 8-4 victory over Spruce Mountain on Tuesday for their fourth consecutive Class C South championship. Down three runs after four innings, Hall-Dale received contributions from all over its lineup. In the sixth inning, an RBI single by No. 8 hitter KJ Greenhalgh tied the game 4-4. Moments later, No. 9 hitter Karalyn Coro hit a bloop RBI single to right field, putting the Bulldogs up 5-4.

“I think this might be the most important (regional title),” said Hall-Dale senior catcher Zoe Soule. “I was like, if this isn’t the one we get, I’m going to be really mad. This is definitely the one I’ve felt best (after the win).”

Hall-Dale will need a similar performance to Tuesday when it plays Class C North champion Bucksport (18-1) for the state championship at the University of Maine in Orono at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. It’s the second straight season the teams have met in the state final. The Bulldogs edged the Bucks 2-1 last year.

Depth has been an advantage for Hall-Dale. The Bulldogs have a lineup littered with talent. Soule, a four-year starter, was named the Mountain Valley Conference Player of the Year. Senior pitcher Ashlynn Donahue, junior infielder Torie Tibbetts and junior outfielder Marie Benoit were all MVC first-team selections. Junior third baseman Jade Graham and junior infielder Lucy Gray were MVC second-team picks.

The battery of Donahue and Soule, along with the slugging ability of Graham, quickly attract attention from fans and opposing teams. But on Tuesday, Tibbetts made not one, but two key defensive plays at second base for the Bulldogs, forcing both outs at home plate.


“I think Torie over at second base was just plain lights out (against Spruce Mountain),” Hall-Dale head coach Steve Acedo said. “I still don’t think she’s had an error at second base this season. To me, those were the biggest two plays (of the game), her throwing those two runners out. That’s a 6-1 game (if it’s missed) at that point, and you don’t know how many runs they would have scored after that. We could have been chasing the mercy (rule) right there if she didn’t make those plays. I’m just proud of her, she was awesome out there.”

Greenhalgh and Karalyn Coro had their key hits at the bottom of the order. The Bulldogs also had success off the bench, as both sophomore Maddie Coro and freshman Claire Kapinos scored key runs as courtesy runners.

“(The regional final) was the game that mattered,” Soule said. “I knew it was going to come down to (everyone being involved) eventually and all of us were going to hit. It’s a good time for all of us to hit right now.”

“Even the (courtesy) runners we used (Tuesday) were important,” Acedo said. “I don’t know if they even understand. It may not seem like a big role, but on this team, it’s a big role. Contributions, whether it’s running, or a pinch-hit at-bat, everybody has a role, and I think they filled it. They were good on the bases.”

Hall-Dale’s Ashlynn Donahue pitches to a Dirigo batter during a Class C South softball semifinal last Saturday in Farmingdale. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

All will be needed against Bucksport. Junior pitcher Natalie Simpson allowed just three hits and struck out 12 batters, as the Bucks beat Mattanawcook Academy 4-0 on Tuesday for the C North title. Simpson was named the Penobscot Valley Conference (PVC) Pitcher of the Year, while junior catcher Jetta Shook was named the PVC Player of the Year. Both were named PVC first-team all-stars, along with senior infielder Sam Cyr. Bucksport has six regional crowns in the past 11 years.

The Bulldogs got a look at this season’s version of the Bucks during a preseason tournament in Bucksport. Both teams are experienced in championship game situations. Acedo said the game will simply come down to who can make the least mistakes.

“It should be another good game,” Acedo said. “It’ll really come down to who executes. We just can’t make the mistakes, that’s all.”

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