BREWER, Maine — The Winslow High School Black Raiders did it again.
For the second straight season, the Black Raiders came out of the eight spot in the Class B North Heal Points standings to win the Class B North championship as they shut out No. 6 Hermon 3-0 behind junior pitcher Emma Michaud’s one-hitter.
Winslow, now 13-7, will face 18-2 Gardiner in Saturday’s 12:30 p.m. state championship game at the University of Southern Maine. Gardiner nipped York 3-2 in the B South final.
Hermon concluded a 12-8 campaign.
The 5-foot-3 Michaud took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, but Hermon senior catcher-infielder Faith Coombs broke up the bid with a sharp opposite-field-line drive single to left field with one out.
That loaded the bases following an error and a hit batsman, but the hard-throwing Michaud induced two grounders back to her to work out of the jam.
Michaud struck out 11, walked three and threw 121 pitches, 78 of which were strikes.
Coombs’ hit was the only ball hit out of the infield against Michaud.
“The first inning was really good for me,” Michaud said. “I threw fastballs and I hit my spots. I never try to overpower anybody. That’s what works for me.”
“She pitched real well,” said Hermon junior shortstop-pitcher Lyndsee Reed, a Penobscot Valley Conference Class B second team all-star. “She was ready to play. She was very good with her location. She really kept us on our toes throughout the whole game.”
Michaud said that she was a little nervous when Hermon loaded the bases with one out in the sixth. The Raiders were holding a 3-0 lead thanks to two runs in the top of the sixth.
There had been a 15-minute period of rain so she wasn’t as concerned about her location.
“I figured I would just throw it in there and hope for the best. They were having a hard time catching up to me anyway so I wasn’t that worried about hitting my spots,” Michaud said. “I just tried to get it over the plate so they could hit it.”
“She did a good job,” Hermon coach Steph Biberstein said. “Every time we needed a big hit, we struggled. You can’t leave the bases loaded. You have to execute with the bat.”
Hermon had two on and two outs in the fourth, but Michaud got out of it with a strikeout.
She also aided her own cause by bunting home an insurance run in the sixth.
Leah Knight lined a single to left to start the sixth-inning rally and Kate Nichols blooped a base hit just beyond the infield into left field.
Hermon starter Katie Fowler was replaced in the circle by Reed, who uncorked a pair of wild pitches that produced the first run. One out later, Michaud executed a well-placed bunt to deliver Nichols with the second run.
“Coach [Larsen] called the bunt. I don’t usually bunt but I’ll do whatever helps the team out,” Michaud said.
Fowler, a freshman, turned in an impressive performance. She allowed just three hits and two earned runs in five-plus innings with seven strikeouts and one walk.
“She did a very good job,” Winslow senior catcher Harly Pomerleau said. “She is going to do some good things as she gets older and gets more experience.”
Pivotal play: Pomerleau delivered what proved to be the game-winning run with a two-out single in the fourth.
Knight reached on an infield error and, two outs and a walk later, Pomerleau ripped a sharp single to left to deliver Knight.
“I knew I had to get Leah home,” Pomerleau said.
Big takeaway: Winslow continues to be a team that peaks in the playoffs. Michaud has allowed only seven runs in four playoff games this season and her teammates make plays behind her. The Raiders have also been able to come up with timely hits which is always a key in playoff games since scoring chances can be few and far between due to the high quality of the pitching.
Don’t be surprised if Hermon is back in the B North title game next season as the Hawks started five freshmen on Tuesday. Coombs and designated player Ainsley Carr were the only seniors in the starting lineup.
Correction: A previous version of this story misidentified Emma Michaud on second reference. It has been corrected.