Nokomis pitcher Mia Coots throws to a Hall-Dale batter during a softball game May 11 in Farmingdale. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The 2024 softball season may have been a new year for central Maine teams, but it ultimately ended with the same stalwarts standing near the end of it.

After falling just short a year before, Nokomis captured its first Class B title this season. The Warriors gained revenge on York — the team that won the Class B title last year — with a 2-1 win on June 15 at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham. The win snapped York’s 35-game win streak.

“It still feels kind of surreal, because it’s so difficult to get to that (championship win),” Nokomis head coach J.D. McLellan said. “Getting that monkey off the back is kind of a good thing. I’ve been doing this for 20 years at Nokomis. I’ve said, ‘Well, maybe I’ll (retire) in the next few years.’ But (now that we’ve won), maybe I can, and feel a little bit happier about it.”

Nokomis (17-2) was powered through the season by senior pitcher Mia Coots. A two-time Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B Player of the Year, Coots struck out 14 in the state final. In fact, Coots finished her career on top of her game, striking out 40 batters in her final three games.

“She controlled the ball extremely well,” McLellan said. “It wasn’t just trying to force it by (hitters), it was putting a little more spin on the ball… But her pitching was extremely good. She was dialed in, she put spin on the ball and controlled the game.”

Coots, a Miss Maine Softball finalist, will continue her career at USM.

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Despite the graduation of some key players from last year, Gardiner (12-7) reached the Class B South semifinals as a No. 5 seed before falling to eventual B South champion York. The Tigers were led by senior third baseman Taylor Takatsu, one of the most feared hitters in the state, let alone the KVAC. Takatsu, a Miss Maine Softball finalist, was named the KVAC B player of the year, and will join Coots next year at USM.

Hall-Dale players celebrate as catcher Zoe Soule jumps on home plate after hitting a two-run home run against Dirigo during a Class C South softball semifinal game June 8 in Farmingdale. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Thanks to late-inning heroics in both the regional and state finals, Hall-Dale (18-2) managed to win its fourth consecutive Class C title. The Bulldogs beat Bucksport 6-3 for the Gold Glove on June 15 at the University of Maine in Orono. It was the second consecutive season Hall-Dale beat Bucksport for the state title.

“I’ve just been so impressed with these kids over the last four years,” Hall-Dale head coach Steve Acedo said. “All the hard work that they’ve put in. It’s hard to imagine (winning) four. It doesn’t seem real to imagine winning four, especially the last two, they were close games that were down to the wire. This is why I coach. It’s fun to be in games like that. Everybody likes to win, but winning in a game like that is what you want, especially in a championship game.”

With the win, Hall-Dale became the first Class C team to win four straight state crowns since Madison accomplished the feat from 1994-1997. The Bulldogs were once again led offensively by senior catcher Zoe Soule. The Mountain Valley Conference Player of the Year hit .469 this season, with three home runs and 30 RBIs. She also scored 35 runs. Senior pitcher Ashlynn Donahue finished her career with a strong season in the circle, going 15-1 with 127 strikeouts and a 0.62 ERA. Soule, Donahue, Torie Tibbetts and Marie Benoit were all named MVC first-team all-stars.

Monmouth Academy graduated last year’s MVC player of the year Brooklyn Federico, but the Mustangs (13-5) still reached the C South semifinals. The Mustangs got strong pitching in the circle from Shannah Parsons, who was one of three MVC first-team all-stars, along with shortstop Rileigh Chase and third baseman Riley Smith.

Monmouth Academy pitcher Shannah Parsons winds up for a pitch during a playoff game against Lisbon on June 5 in Monmouth. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

In Class A, Skowhegan (17-2) reached the regional final for the eighth consecutive time (there was no 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic), but fell 2-0 to Oxford Hills in the Class A North final.

“We had a great year,” said Skowhegan head coach Lee Johnson. “It didn’t finish the way we would’ve liked to, of course, but the only way to be successful is to win the last game. Our past success has kind of put us in that position. (These days), it’s either you reach a state championship or you’re not happy, I guess you can say. It’s difficult for a group every year to deal with those expectations and this group did it extremely well. No. 1 seed, 15-1 (record) in the regular season. We just had one game where we didn’t hit the ball.”

Senior Lily Noyes was a force in the circle all season for the River Hawks, striking out 181 batters in 105 innings of work with a 0.73 ERA. She was also strong at the plate, hitting .444 with a home run and 14 RBIs. Noyes was named the KVAC A player of the year. She was one of four Skowhegan players named KVAC Class A first-team all-stars, including Natalie Gilman, Annabelle Morris and Maddie Morris. Annabelle Morris led the River Hawks with 27 runs scored, while hitting .419 with four home runs and 17 RBIs.

In Class D, former Carrabec standout Bailey Dunphy led the Cobras to a 12-6 record in her first season as head coach. The Cobras reached the D South semifinals before falling 12-2 to eventual Class D champion North Yarmouth Academy.

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