GORHAM — After a subpar offensive performance in the regional championship game, Searsport softball coach Christin Obrey preached aggression to her Vikings heading into the state Class D title contest on Saturday, June 18 at the University of Southern Maine.

And she got it.

That aggression was on display on the bases early and often against Hodgdon as the Vikings showed they are in a class of their own as they swung to their second straight state high school diamond championship with a 7-3 victory over the Hawks.

“I don’t really have words,” Obrey said of winning back-to-back state titles. “It’s kind of crazy.”

Searsport District High School is the 2022 state Class D softball champions. Photo by Mark Haskell

Searsport finished the 2022 campaign at 15-5, while Hodgdon ended 16-3.

It was the fourth state softball title for the Vikings, who won Class D in 2021 and 2022, and Class C in 1978 and 1998. Searsport also was Class C runners-up in 1997 and 1993.

Team members for Searsport, coached by Obrey, Sharon Keach and Greg Keach, included MyKenzie Tripp, Kiara Krumbholz, Hunter Kronholm, Bailey Bagley, Laura Warman, Ellie Cahill, Ana Lang, Lily Nadeau, Jordan Greeley, Kyla Perkins and Abby Astbury.

Team members for Hodgdon, coached by Mark Faulkingham, included Meghan Peters, Marissa Dow, Ava Wells, Sadie Thompson, Aleyah Matheson, Delaney Little, Sydney Rockwell, Chloe Polchies, Paige Fitzpatrick, Gracie Little, Sarah Matheson, Monique Polchies, Sydney Harvey and Kaelyn Lawlor.

Searsport’s Ana Lang, front. Photo by Mark Haskell

Searsport, the top-ranked team in Class D South, defeated No. 8 Forest Hills of Jackman 10-0 in five innings in the quarterfinals, bested No. 5 Buckfield 5-3 in the semifinals and earned the regional title with a 1-0, eight-inning win over St. Dominic Academy of Auburn.

Hodgdon, the third seed in Class D North, defeated No. 14 Central Aroostook of Mars Hill 15-1 in the prelims, No. 6 Southern Aroostrook of Dyer Brook 14-9 in the quarterfinals, No. 2 Woodland 3-2 in the semifinals and No. 6 Machias 2-0 in the regional final.

Searsport’s Jordan Greeley. Photo by Mark Haskell

In the state championship game, the Vikings were led at the plate by Lang (double, run, 3 stolen bases), Greeley (single, run, 4 steals, RBI), Kronholm (2 singles, run), Astbury (run), Bagley (run, steal), Tripp (double, run, 3 RBIs), Nadeau (run, steal) and Perkins (single, steal).

For the Hawks, Peters (single, run, 3 stolen bases), Matheson (single, run, 2 steals), Dow (double, 2 steals) and Monique Polchies (run, steal) paced the offense.

Lang pitched for Searsport and was masterful, with a variety of pitches, including a hard, rising fastball. She allowed three hits and three walks, to go with a whopping 19 strikeouts. Lang fanned the side in the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings and struck out a pair in the first and second frames.

Searsport’s Baileigh Bagley. Photo by Mark Haskell

Lang struck out 64 batters in the postseason, including getting the final 17 outs of Saturday’s game via strikeout.

“It feels amazing to be back at this place in the playoffs and pull off a big win,” said Lang. “It means a lot and it feels simply amazing.”

“Ana is great and she throws hard,” said Obrey. “We do our best and she pitches her game.”

Dow pitched for Hodgdon and allowed six hits and 12 walks, with seven strikeouts.

Searsport’s MyKenzie Tripp. Photo by Mark Haskell

Searsport plated a pair of runs in the first inning, one in the second, two in the third and two in the sixth, while Hodgdon, fresh off winning its first regional title in school history, scored one in the third and two more in the sixth.

Dow battled control problems in the first inning as she walked five of the game’s first seven batters as Searsport took a 2-0 lead without the benefit of a hit.

Greeley reached on a one-out walk, stole second base and scampered to third as Warman made her way to first base after Dow issued the inning’s second walk.

Searsport’s Laura Warman. Photo by Mark Haskell

Warman then broke for second base and as she drew the attention of the Hawk infield, Greeley broke for the plate and scored the game’s first run. Later in the frame, a bases-loaded walk to Tripp plated Kronholm to put the defending champs up 2-0.

“The plan was to be aggressive overall,” said Obrey. “Attacking the ball in the field, being aggressive on the base paths and looking for the pitches we could get a hold of.”

And Lang, who has been nothing short of sensational in the pitching circle for years, did the rest.

Searsport’s Ana Lang, right, and teammates celebrate. Photo by Mark Haskell

“Pitching-wise, everything was working,” said Lang. “Especially my rise ball. My rise ball has been my friend all season and is my go-to pitch when we need to get batters swinging. Overall, I felt like I had good control and once I get fired up, I get on a roll and it’s a great feeling to go out, pitch well and then come to the dugout and hit.”

In the third, Perkins slapped a single through the left side of the infield, followed by Lang, who gapped a double to right-center, which put two runners in scoring position.

Then, during Warman’s at-bat, Perkins got caught between third and home and was tagged out at the plate, though Lang moved up to third on the play.

Moments later, Lang bolted for the plate as the Hodgdon catcher threw the ball back to the pitcher and Lang scored Searsport’s third run of the game.

Searsport’s Abby Astbury, right, and Ana Lang. Photo by Mark Haskell

The Hawks were not kept off the board in their first state final, however, as they broke through in the third. Monique Polchies drew a walk, moved to second on a passed ball, stole third base and came in on a bunt single by Peters.

In the bottom of the frame, Searsport added two more, which began when Tripp reached on a fielder’s choice, moved to second on a passed ball and came around to score when Nadeau reached after the Hodgdon shortstop overthrew the first baseman.

Nadeau ended up at second on the play, was bunted over on a sacrifice by Perkins and then came in on a single through the left side of the infield by Greeley to give the Vikings a 5-1 edge.

The Hawks cut their deficit to 5-3 in the sixth after Peters reached on a walk and came around on three stolen bases. Matheson took a page out of Peters’ book as well as she singled, stole to third and eventually scored on an error.

Lang said the top of the sixth “just happened to be Hodgdon’s inning.”

“We’ve seen all year long that most teams come alive in one inning and we need to shut it down,” she said. “It was frustrating overall and we got very tense and needed to calm down and reset. That’s what coach told us when she came out and I agreed.”

Searsport’s Ana Lang. Photo by Mark Haskell; photo illustration by Holly Vanorse Spicer

“There’s runners on base and things are kind of happening and plays unfold,” said Obrey. “For her to acknowledge that frustration [was good]. We had a talk and it calmed us down and they all settled back in. That’s a great quality for a pitcher.”

And in the bottom of the frame, it was a two-run single by Tripp to shallow left-center — which plated Astbury and Bagley — that put the game out of reach for the Hawks.

In short, every time the Hawks closed the gap, the Vikings had an answer.

“That was exciting,” said Obrey. “I was just watching the ball and when the one runner came around third I was like, ‘Go go go!,’ and I just kept sending them.”

And now, the Vikings, again, sit atop the Class D mountain. Searsport graduates four players — Greeley, Kronholm, Perkins and Astbury — all of whom were instrumental members of the team’s success this year and last.

“I think it’s definitely our time to shine,” said Obrey. “I think the girls feel pretty good about that. We’re excited and we’re going to keep moving forward.”