Hall-Dale shortstop Lucy Gray scoops up a grounder before throwing to first for the out against Dirigo during a Class C South softball semifinal June 8 in Farmingdale. Gray is expected to move to the circle next season to be the starting pitcher. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

It took some time for Steve Acedo to come around that he should return for another run at a Class C softball title.

But finally, not long before the start of the season for Hall-Dale, Acedo did it, making the drive from his new home in Texas back to Maine for the spring to coach the Bulldogs one more time.

The move paid off. Hall-Dale beat Bucksport 6-3 on Saturday at the University of Maine in Orono to capture its fourth consecutive Class C title.

“It was the best 35-hour drive I’ve ever had, right there,” Acedo laughed.

Acedo will soon make the drive back to Texas, and it remains to be seen if he will come back next spring, trying to lead the Bulldogs to what could be a historic season. With Saturday’s win, Hall-Dale became the third team in state history to win four straight state softball titles, the second in Class C. The Bulldogs join the 1994-1997 Madison teams (Class C), as well as the 2013-2016 Richmond teams (Class D). The Bulldogs have a 74-2 record over the last four years.

Hall-Dale’s Ashlynn Donahue pitches to a Dirigo batter during a Class C South softball semifinal June 8 in Farmingdale. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“It feels unreal,” Hall-Dale senior pitcher Ashlynn Donahue said after the win. “The first one, everybody said it was just luck. But then we just kept doing it and doing it and kept doing it.”


“To think, we started out as 8-year-olds (playing), and we’ve made it,” Hall-Dale junior second baseman Torie Tibbetts said. “We made it.”

If Hall-Dale were to win next year, it would become the first Maine softball program to win five consecutive state championships.

It’s not an impossible thought. Most of Hall-Dale’s lineup returns next season, led by Tibbetts, one of the team’s three captains, who made huge plays on defense and on the basepaths in the regional and state finals. Outfielder and cleanup hitter Marie Benoit returns, as does slugging third baseman Jade Graham. Lucy Gray, the team’s shortstop throughout the season, is expected to be the starting pitcher next spring.

“We’ve got a killer junior class coming up next year,” Acedo said. “They’re still going to be good. (Gray) will be doing most of the pitching, if not all of it. But I’ve got a lot of confidence in her that she’ll do just fine. Just have to move some people around and go for it again.”

But the Bulldogs are losing huge pieces with its senior class. Catcher Zoe Soule, the Mountain Valley Conference Player of the Year, was a four-year starter, feared as much at the plate as she was behind it. Donahue was a stalwart in the circle and at the plate and was an MVC first-team selection. Outfielder Karalyn Coro was a steady bat at the bottom of the order, coming through with an RBI single that tied Spruce Mountain in the regional final, setting the stage for an eventual win. KJ Greenhalgh was a flexible piece in the outfield and in the batting order. The group will be tough to replace, on and off the field, leaving a legacy of winning behind.

“It’s hard to see them go,” Acedo said. “They set the bar pretty high, for everybody that’s coming after them. As long as we keep building after that, I think we’re going to good places.”

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