High fliers: Redwings soar to second straight championship perchFree Press outlasts Knox County Benchwarmers in Camden Adult Coed Softball League
Camden — While many things in the future, from player departure to being knocked off by a more talented opponent, may conspire to keep them from matching the Misfits' amazing eight-year reign as Camden Adult Coed Softball League champions, the Free Press Redwings have made at least a small step toward that milestone after securing a second straight title on Thursday night, Aug. 22 at the Camden Snow Bowl.
A night after losing to No. 1 Knox County Benchwarmers, an outcome that forced a winner-take-all finale Thursday, the No. 2 Free Press Redwings rallied from an early deficit and then held on for an 8-6 victory and another special moment with the coveted championship cup.
Watch video of the championship game below.
Ultimately, the regular-season seeds held true in this summer's playoffs, with the two top-ranked squads advancing to the championship game.
Not only were those two squads the best in the league record-wise, the finale also was a rematch of last year's championship game, won by the Redwings, then sponsored by The Camden Herald newspaper.
On Thursday, Free Press took a 1-0 lead and then fell behind 3-1 after one inning. However, the Redwings rallied, behind the powerful bat of Lucas Brower, to take a 4-3 cushion. After the Benchwarmers knotted the game 4-4, Free Press slowly built a edge that Knox County could not overcome.
Free Press scored one run in the first inning, three in the third, three in the fifth and one in the seventh. Knox County tallied three in the first and one each in the fourth, fifth and seventh stanzas.
The Benchwarmers, the league runners-up for a second straight year, were knocked to the losers bracket early in the double-elimination tourney, only to fight back and push the Redwings to the limit.
The Redwings finished 14-5 overall, including 4-1 in the playoffs. The Benchwarmers finished 17-4 overall, including 5-2 in the postseason. The two teams split four games this season.
Team members for the Free Press Redwings include Lucas Brower, Isaac Brower, Reade Brower, Mark Merchant, Chris McLean, Fritz Burke, Doug Curtis, Mike Curtis, Gabe Blodgett, Christian Wincklhofer, Phil Curll, Noah Burke, Marie Lufkin, Katie Benedict, Juliette Laaka, Andrea Curtis, Jessica Fossett, Caroline Curtis, Allison Weaver, Jenn Shook and Bonnie Gallagher.
Team members for the Knox County Benchwarmers include Jay Young, Lee Smith, Daphne Ripley, Jason Yates, Chris Burns, Sara Cullity, Ryan McCarthy, Becca Smith, Brie Konitzky, Heath Smith, Andy Carter, Tim Jackson, Betsy Wedge, Walter Smith and Amy Johnson.
The Redwings advanced to the title game by defeating the No. 7 Schooners 13-1 Aug. 13, besting No. 3 Blue Sky Cantina 8-3 Aug. 15 and beating No. 4 Feeners Pride 18-2 Aug. 19.
The Benchwarmers defeated No. 8 Courier Publications 26-2 Aug. 12, lost to No. 4 Feeners Pride 12-10 Aug. 14, defeated No. 8 Courier Publications 33-0 Aug. 15, bested No. 3 Blue Sky Cantina Aug. 19 and No. 4 Feeners Pride 12-0 Aug. 20.
On Thursday, keying the Redwings were Curll (4 hits, 3 runs), Laaka (2 hits, 2 runs), Blodgett (3 singles, run), Lucas Brower (home run, single, run), Merchant (hit), Benedict (2 hits), McLean (hit), Burke (run) and Doug Curtis (hit).
Lucas Brower's three-run home run in the second inning, and his key defensive play late in the game, turned the tide for the Redwings.
Leading Benchwarmers were Young (3 hits, run), Mariner (hit, run), Lee Smith (2 hits, run), Carter (2 hits, run), Cullity (hit), McCarthy (single, double, home run, two runs), Konitzky (hit), Becca Smith (hit), Wedge (hit), Jackson (hit) and Burns (2 hits).
Jackson pitched for the Benchwarmers and Lufkin worked the circle for the Redwings.
For the Benchwarmers, shortstop Yates and second baseman Cullity made strong defensive plays.
On Wednesday night, the Benchwarmers scored one run in the first inning, five in the third, three in the fifth, one in the sixth and three in the seventh, while the Redwings tallied one in the second, two in the third and one in the fourth.
Among the hitters for the Benchwarmers were Yates (2 singles), Heath Smith (single), Burns (double, single), Lee Smith (double, 2 singles), Carter (2 singles), Ripley (single), McCarthy (single), Young (double, single) and Cullity (single).
For the Redwings, Mike Curtis (home run), Merchant (single), McLean (single), Curll (double), Laaka (single) and Wincklhofer (single) were among the team's top hitters.
Heath Smith pitched for the Benchwarmers, while Marie Lufkin pitched for the Redwings.
The Benchwarmers took a 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI-single by Yates, but the Redwings responded in the bottom of the second as McLean added an RBI-single to tie the game.
The higher seed then took a commanding 6-1 lead in the top of the third inning thanks to an RBI-double by Burns, an RBI-groundout by Ripley and a two-run single by Carter, who later scored after Cullity reached first base on a close play that saw Lucas Brower, the Redwings first baseman, make a diving attempt to tag the bag with his glove.
The Redwings cut into its deficit in the bottom of the third stanza when Laaka rapped an RBI-single and Blodgett plated a run on an RBI-groundout. The Redwings added another run in the bottom of the fourth when Mike Curtis homered to deep left field.
However, the Benchwarmers responded with a three-run frame in the top of the fifth to take the wind out of the Redwings' sails when Ripley and Lee Smith both scored on an error and McCarthy connected with an RBI-single.
The Benchwarmers added an insurance run in the sixth thanks to an RBI-double by Young and scored three more in the seventh on a two-run single by Cullity, followed by Carter coming home on an error.
The league's most recent previous champions were Front IX/Waterfront in 1994-96, North End in 1997, Front IX in 1998, Maine Cat 1999, Over The Fence in 2000, French & Brawn in 2001, Gilbert's Pub in 2002-03, Putters/Misfits in 2004-2011, Camden Herald Redwings in 2012 and Free Press Redwings in 2013.