Bucksport’s Madysen Robichaud crosses home plate after hitting the go-ahead home run in the top of the seventh inning of the Class C North softball championship game against Mattanawcook Academy on June 14 in Brewer. The home run was her sixth of the season. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY MIKE MANDELL

Robichaud’s home run gives Bucksport softball team improbable Northern Maine title win

BREWER — When her team was given a lifeline, Madysen Robichaud made it count.

With the Bucksport softball team down to its last at-bat of the season in the Class C North title game against Mattanawcook Academy, Emily Hunt had hit a popup that looked to be the final out. Yet as the Lynx players started to celebrate, the ball popped out of the fielder’s glove and fell to the dirt.

With Hunt safe at first, the Golden Bucks were still alive. All they needed was a run to tie the game at 1, and Robichaud, the team’s leader in home runs and RBIs, was up next. Before she could step up to the plate, though, her head coach wanted to have a few words.

“That’s an omen,” Bucksport head coach Mike Carrier told Robichaud. “Don’t let it go to waste.”

The Bucksport senior then stepped up to the plate and took one pitch for a ball. Then another. After a third pitch outside the zone made the count 3-0, Robichaud took the bat off her shoulders and launched a two-run home run over the fence in left field.

Immediately, the Bucksport dugout exploded into celebrations. The team had been trailing most of the game, but in a matter of moments, the Golden Bucks had gone from elimination to the doorstep of the state championship game.

Bucksport’s MaKenzie Smith swings at a pitch during the fourth inning of the Class C North softball championship game against Mattanawcook on June 14 in Brewer. Smith reached second with a double in the at-bat. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY MIKE MANDELL

Robichaud’s two-run home run in the top of the seventh inning propelled No. 2 Bucksport to a 2-1 win over top-seeded Mattanawcook in the Class C North championship game Wednesday at Brewer High School. It was the third regional title in a row for the Golden Bucks.

“All game long, I told my team, ‘All we need is one chance,’” Carrier said. “With our pitching and our defense, we can keep every game close, and when we caught a break, we knew how to capitalize.”

Throughout the entire season, these two teams had been on a collision course to meet for the Northern Maine crown. Led by dominant pitchers Kate Saunders (Bucksport) and Haley McLaughin (Mattanawcook), both were undefeated and had been the top-two teams in Class C North the entire season.

As was to be expected, the game was a pitcher’s duel all night. With the exception of Mattanawcook’s three-hit third inning that made the score 1-0, the few hits to be had were accompanied by strikeouts and groundouts for the first six innings. For most of the night, it looked as if that one run would be enough for the Lynx to advance.

That was the case during the seventh inning, too. After McLaughin struck out the first Bucksport batter, Darian Jellison was called out after the umpire ruled she had been hit by a fair ball as she ran toward first base. As Hunt sent a pop fly high into the air in the next at-bat, everyone — Hunt included, as she would later concede — thought it was that end. Instead, the Golden Bucks had another shot.

When Robichaud came up to the plate, McLaughlin tried to pitch around her. She had done so effectively most of the night and had kept Bucksport’s senior standout out of the hit column in the process. This time, though, her fourth pitch hung a bit too much over the plate, and Robichaud sent it flying over the wall.

“It still doesn’t feel real,” Robichaud said after the game. “I saw it going and going, but I didn’t know it was a home run until I saw a fan near the scoreboard catch it when it went over the fence.”

For Carrier, there was no such suspense.

Members of the Bucksport softball team pose with the Class C North championship trophy after defeating Mattanawcook 2-1 on June 14 in Brewer. The Golden Bucks will be back at Brewer High School to play Madison for the state championship Saturday, June 17. RICK MCHALE PHOTO

“I knew it right off the bat,” Carrier said. “I’ve seen what a Mady home run looks like, and as soon as I saw it, I knew that was a Mady home run.”

With the way Saunders had been pitching since the fourth inning, the bottom of the seventh was a mere afterthought. The junior retired all three Mattanawcook batters in no more than two minutes, and the Golden Bucks (19-0) mobbed each other in celebration as Northern Maine champions once again.

As joyous as the win was for Bucksport, it was a heartbreaking defeat for Mattanawcook. The Lynx (18-1) had also lost the previous two regional championship games at the hands of the Golden Bucks, and just when it finally looked as if they would break through, fate had other plans.

“I feel so terrible for that third baseman,” Carrier said. “She did a really good job the whole night, but that one just had some bad spin.”

Saunders struck out eight and allowed four hits in the win. McLaughlin struck out 10 and allowed five hits in the loss.

Bucksport will return to Brewer to face South No. 1 seed Madison (18-1) in the state championship at noon Saturday, June 17. The game will be a rematch of last year’s title matchup, which Madison won 3-1.

As his players celebrated Wednesday, though, Carrier didn’t want to think about that. Not even aware that Madison had won its game earlier in the day, his mind was on the incredible victory his own squad had pulled out against all odds.

“We’ve got one more [to win], but I’m not going to forget the one we just had,” Carrier said. “That was a special game by a special team that never gave up.”

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at [email protected]

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