2017-06-16 / Sports

Bobcats back for one more

Richmond softball faces Penobscot Valley Saturday in Class D Final
BY CHRISTIAN SANDLER
Times Record Staff


SENIORS OF THE Richmond High School softball team pose at practice on Thursday. The Bobcats will take on Penobscot Valley in Saturday’s Class D Championship game at St. Joseph’s College in Standish (4 p.m.), and will be looking to win their fourth straight title as a group. Richmond is currently on an 88-game winning streak dating back to 2012. 
CHRISTIAN SANDLER / THE TIMES RECORD SENIORS OF THE Richmond High School softball team pose at practice on Thursday. The Bobcats will take on Penobscot Valley in Saturday’s Class D Championship game at St. Joseph’s College in Standish (4 p.m.), and will be looking to win their fourth straight title as a group. Richmond is currently on an 88-game winning streak dating back to 2012. CHRISTIAN SANDLER / THE TIMES RECORD RICHMOND

For most high school softball players, playing in the state championship game is a dream. For softball players at Richmond, it’s the norm. That’s especially true for the current group of seniors.

Meranda Martin, Camryn Hurley, Jenn Snedeker, Mackenzie Abbott, Cassidy Harriman, Kaylee Williams, Basyirah Rosian and Emily Douin have been to, and won, the past three State Class D Championship games. In fact, they’ve never lost a game — Richmond is currently riding an 88-game winning streak dating back to the 2012 final.


MERANDA MARTIN releases a pitch during the Class D South Regional Final at St. Joseph’s College this past Tuesday. 
CHRISTIAN SANDLER / THE TIMES RECORD MERANDA MARTIN releases a pitch during the Class D South Regional Final at St. Joseph’s College this past Tuesday. CHRISTIAN SANDLER / THE TIMES RECORD After defeating Greenville, 14-6, earlier this week in the Class D South regional final, the group will look to complete the sweep.

But as the Bobcats prepare to take on Penobscot Valley on Saturday (4 p.m.) at St. Joseph’s College in Standish, don’t expect much to change.

Going in blind

Penobscot Valley, which was the last team to defeat Richmond almost five years ago, is also coming in at a perfect 19-0 after winning the Class D North regional final over Southern Aroostook on Tuesday. The Howlers breezed through the regular season and only played in one game where they didn’t win by at least five runs.

Richmond coach Tony Martin, in his second season, hasn’t looked too deeply into it.

“Read a few articles, and that’s basically what I’ve seen,” coach Martin said. “I haven’t really paid that much attention. I’ve looked a little bit through the year, just to see who was in the top five and keep track of them that way, and they seem to be right there.”

“We check in every once in a while, to see who’s up there and who’s not, but, honestly, we really just pay attention to what we need to work on,” Meranda Martin said. “Going into this game, we don’t really care if we know anything about them. We’ll go in blindfolded, that’s how we look at it. We’re better off going in blindfolded and not knowing anything.”

At practice on Thursday, the Bobcats were far from surprised when told about Penobscot Valley freshman Leine McKechnie, who fanned a whopping 19 batters in the North final. They may not have seen her before, but they’ve seen plenty on their own staff.

“Meranda and Sydney (Underhill-Tilton) have a lot of strikeouts too,” Hurley said. “We just need to go out there, we need to hit and play our game. We don’t know what the other team’s hitting skills are, we don’t know what the pitcher has. We just need to go in blindfolded, because we’re going to worry too much.”

“I’m telling the girls, ‘Just try to pick the ball up early,’” coach Martin said. “‘Get your hands through quick and recognize the off-speed stuff.’ We’re lucky we’ve got Syd and Meranda here to throw some batting practice so they can see the change-ups, rise balls and try to focus on the different spins.”

And that’s about as far as the preparation will go. Richmond, which scored at least eight runs in all but one regular-season game this year, has relied on the bats since opening day and will continue to do so on Saturday. In the South final, when Meranda Martin didn’t have her best stuff in the circle and Greenville brought the score within a run in the middle of the game, Hurley, Underhill- Tilton and others promptly responded with five runs in the next half-inning to distance themselves again.

If the long ball isn’t there, small ball is on deck.

“If we’re not hitting the ball, that’s what we turn to,” Meranda Martin said. “We do have muscle behind the bats, but we also can play the small-ball game. We do a little bit of both, just to stay in it and give them both looks, really.”

On top of that, the Bobcats have been here before. They’ve been here three times before. The opponent may be new (though, these seniors defeated Penobscot Valley in the title game as freshmen) and the pitcher may be new, but the occasion is anything but.

“Looking back at our freshman year, we weren’t nervous a bit and that definitely helped us,” Hurley said. “Looking back and telling the younger kids, ‘Don’t be nervous, it’s just like another game,’ that definitely helps us with the experience. We know how to feel and we know how to have a day.”

“It helps,” coach Martin said. “With the older kids that have been there, this is their fourth year there. They help the younger kids out, just try and keep them calm. And like I tell them, there’s just a few teams in the state left playing. Lets enjoy this and lets play the best game we can. Keep your heads in there and have fun. At the end of the day, just make sure you can tell yourself you had fun.”

Closing a chapter

Coach Martin, after taking over for longtime coach Rick Coughlin last year, has only been calling the shots for two years of his daughter Meranda’s softball run, but he was well aware of the history coming in. He knows that at Richmond, freshmen often start and go on to have long, successful careers on the diamond. Freshman Bryanne Lancaster, who stroked five RBIs in the win over Greenville, is no exception.

One thing he’ll miss is the coaching help he and the younger players get from the seniors.

“They’re fun,” coach Martin said. “Meranda’s a leader. She is in softball and all the sports. She’s just the leader out there and she always keeps the kids focused and helps them out through a hard time. She’s always there to help them out. She’s real good that way.”

A win on Saturday would be quite the way to pass the torch to players like Lancaster and sophomore shortstop Caitlin Kendrick. To make it five straight Class D Championships would continue the legacy of Coughlin, who won three straight before handing the program off to Martin.

It would also make for quite the story for the seniors to tell.

“Honestly, it would feel amazing,” Hurley said. “Not a lot of people can go out and say ‘I’ve never lost a softball game in my whole entire high school career,’ and not a lot of people can say ‘I’ve started every game and no one expected this from us,’ but we’ve done a great job. I’m going to be super proud of everyone on every team I’ve played with because it is truly amazing.”

“It would be huge for them,” coach Martin said. “They’re looking forward to going for it. They’re really looking forward to going out there and having fun. I think they really want it. They’ve been talking about this day all year, hoping they were going to get there. Hopefully the bats keep going like they are and the infield pulls through. I think the club’s ready.”

At the end of the day, though, the result may only be so important. After all, Richmond has plenty of plaques and even more memories.

“I would like to come out with a win, and it’d be great to win all four years that I’ve been in high school, but honestly, we’ve had an awesome four years,” Meranda Martin said. “This team has been doing awesome and no matter the outcome on Saturday, I will be as happy as happy could be. We’ve had a great run and that’s all you can ask for.”

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