THOMASTON — Nobody circles the wagons — or stares down adversity — better than the Knox County Benchwarmers.

Since they formed in 2006, the group has become like a family, competing in softball and dodgeball, among other activities. But it is on the coed diamond the group does some of its best work.

Bayview Bushwhacker Desiree Benner connects for a home run, as umpire Mike Stone and Knox County Benchwarmer catcher Sara Cullity look on. Photo by Ken Waltz

And no matter what they face, the Benchwarmers always come to play as hard as possible until the final out is recorded — win or lose.

And that mode of operation has served them well and led to plenty of wins over the years, including in this summer’s Midcoast Adult Coed Softball League season. Through it all, Knox County worked through the postseason loser’s bracket and never lost sight of its goal to capture the coveted championship cup.

From left, Knox County Benchwarmers Lee Smith, Sara Cullity and Becca Smith react to the final out. Photo by Ken Waltz

The No. 2 Benchwarmers did that on Friday night, Sept. 3 with an 8-4 win over No. 3 Bayview Bushwhackers at the Thomaston Little League Field.

Knox County took an early lead and never relinquished it en route to the crown, its third in the league in recent years.

What is amazing is the Benchwarmers, no matter the circumstances, never give up. It is not in their DNA. They battle to the end and always believe, as they did when they lost earlier in this year’s playoffs to Bushwhackers.

Bayview Bushwhacker Dalton Oakes. Photo by Ken Waltz

After that postseason loss, the Benchwarmers simply got back to work to win elimination game after elimination game. They never lost faith they could win, despite facing equally-hungry opponents along the way and a mostly younger and powerful opponent in the final two postseason games.

Team members for the Benchwarmers (18-4 overall, 6-1 in playoffs) include Lee Smith, Becca Smith, Sara Cullity, Tim Jackson, Robin Carter, Jason Yates, Mike Wong, Jordan Carter, Jay Young, Dylan Maloney, Jess Maloney, Chris Burns, Jenn Daniels, Abby Veilleux, Kim Young, Lilly Smith (manager) and Otis Smith (equipment manager).

Team members for the Bayview Bushwhackers (15-5 overall, 3-2 in playoffs) include Mallory Conary, Ryan Blackman, Brian Blackman, Chris Hart, Eric Palin, Cam Gartley, Dalton Oakes, Bailey McWilliams, Morgan Achorn, Laticia Billings and Desiree Benner.

Knox County Benchwarmer Lee Smith, left, receives the championship cup from teammate Dylan Maloney, as Tim Jackson looks on from behind.

The finalists played a handful of competitive games this season, including earlier in the playoffs when Bushwhackers pulled out a 15-6, eight-inning victory. During the regular season, the Benchwarmers won both games between the foes — 11-8 and 24-8.

In the end, in the playoffs, Knox County prevailed in two one-run elimination games, a two-run win-or-go-home contest, three-run decision and four-run advantage to, ultimately, capture the title.

Overall, the Benchwarmers led the league in runs plated with 325 and fewest runs allowed at 111, for a whopping differential of 214 and Bushwhackers (292-147-145).

In Friday’s championship game, the Benchwarmers, who also have won the title in the fall Waldoboro coed softball league (which is up and running now), tallied three runs in the second inning, two in the third and fourth and one in the fifth. Bushwhackers, new to the Midcoast league this summer, plated four runs in the fourth.

For the Benchwarmers, Jordan Carter (3 singles, run), Robin Carter (single), Yates (single, run), Jackson (single), Jay Young (2 runs), Jess Maloney (3 singles, run), Wong (home run), Cullity (single), Dylan Maloney (double, run), Veilleux (single, run) and Lee Smith (2 singles) led the offense.

Knox County Benchwarmers, 2021 Midcoast Adult Coed Softball League champions. Photo by Ken Waltz

For Bushwhackers, Oakes (single), Benner (home run, single), Hart (single, run), Conary (single), Brian Blackman (single, run), Palin (home run), Gartley (run) and Billings (single) keyed the charge.

There were many strong defensive plays in the game, none better than a catch against the fence for Palin to rob a home run.

Lilly Smith is happy to hold the championship trophy. Photo by Ken Waltz

Playing on the Little League field, with a fence about 200 feet from home plate, many balls flew out of the park. However, only a few of them counted, per league rules. In fact, while the Benchwarmers were content to rip their patented line-drive singles and doubles, the powerful Bushwhackers had several balls soar over the fence ruled outs because they had exceeded league limits.

For the Benchwarmers, they won the championship — and could eat their cake too — thanks to Abby Veilleux. Photo by Ken Waltz

The playoff game on Thursday night, Sept. 2 in Rockland featured a team annually in the mix for the championship and another in its first year involved with the popular, decades-old, summer recreational program.

The No. 2 Knox County Benchwarmers — or old dogs, if you will — and No. 3 Bayview Bushwhackers, the new kids on the block, put on an offensive show in the first inning before the opponents settled in and relied more on solid defense and sound fundamentals.

Bayview Bushwhacker Eric Palin. Photo by Mark Haskell

And by game’s end at Jaycee Park on Old County Road, the Benchwarmers proved one cannot teach old dogs new tricks.

That is because they do what they have done for more than a decade. They mash at the plate and suck up softballs like a vacuum, as they did in a hard-fought, 10-7 victory over the Bushwhackers.

Knox County Benchwarmer Robin Carter. Photo by Mark Haskell

In the first of what proved two championship games, the Benchwarmers plated five runs in the first inning, one in the fourth and four in the sixth, while the Bushwhackers scored four in the first and three in the seventh.

Bayview Bushwhacker Dalton Oakes. Photo Mark Haskell

The visiting Benchwarmers jumped to a quick 5-0 lead in the first inning, which began when Robin Carter drew a walk, Yates singled and Jordan Carter drew a walk to load the bases for Jay Young, who plated a run on a groundout.

Jess Maloney roped a two-run double, followed by back-to-back RBI-singles by Cullity and Dylan Maloney.

However, the Bushwhackers got right back into it in the bottom of the inning when Benner belted an RBI-double and a second run came in on an error, followed by a two-run home run to deep left-center field by Palin.

Knox County Benchwarmer Tim Jackson. Photo Mark Haskell

In the fourth, Cullity reached on a walk, was singled to second base and reached third when the latter two batters were retired on a double play.

Cullity came in on an RBI-hit by Jordan Carter to put the Benchwarmers up 6-4.

The visitors blew the game open in the sixth and took a 10-4 lead, which kicked off when Cullity, Dylan Maloney and Daniels had hits before Jordan Carter plated two runs with a single, followed by a two-run home run later in the frame by Wong.

The Bushwhackers did not make it easy for the Benchwarmers in the seventh as they plated three runs, which began when Conary doubled and Oakes singled to put runners on the corners.

Knox County Benchwarmer Sara Cullity. Photo Mark Haskell

Conary scored on an error, Oakes came in on a sacrifice fly and an RBI-single by Gartley brought the Bushwhackers within three runs, but they would get no closer as the Benchwarmers forced the all-important “if” game.

Knox County Benchwarmer Dylan Maloney. Photo by Mark Haskell

Games have been played at a multitude of venues, including Jaycee Park on Old County Road in Rockland, former Rockport Elementary School on the corner of Route 1 and West Street in Rockport, Camden Snow Bowl, Hope Elementary School, Lincolnville Central School and Thomaston Little League Field.

The final regular-season standings included: Feener Pride, 13-2, .867 winning percentage; Knox County Benchwarmers, 12-3, .800; Bayview Bushwhackers, 12-3, .800; Maine Cat, 10-5, .667; Walter J. Read Carpentry, 10-5, .667; Free Press Redwings, 9-6, .600; Smokin’ Rokys, 8-7, .533; Willey Wharf, 7-8, .467; French & Brawn Baggers, 7-8, .467; Steel-Pro, 6-9, .400; DX, 2-13, .133; Northeast Concrete, 2-14, .143; and Bonnie’s Place, 0-15, .000. (Sorted on winning percentage, head-to-head, run differential, runs against.)

Previous playoff results

No. 2 Knox County Benchwarmers 7, No. 5 Walter J. Read Carpentry 5.

No. 2 Knox County Benchwarmers 7, No. 8 Willey Wharf 6.

No. 3 Bayview Bushwhackers 13, No. 5 Walter J. Read Carpentry 6.

No. 8 Willey Wharf 7, No. 6 Free Press Redwings 6.

No. 6 Free Press Redwings 10, No. 7 Smokin’ Rokys 3.

No. 2 Knox County Benchwarmers 7, No.1 Feener Pride 6.

No. 3 Bayview Bushwhackers 15, No.2 Knox County Benchwarmers 6. (8 inns.)

No. 7 Smokin’ Rokys 26, No. 13 Bonnie’s Place 0.

No. 1 Feener Pride 4, No. 10 Steel-Pro 0.

No. 5 Walter J. Read Carpentry 15, No. 8 Willey Wharf 7.

No. 2 Knox County Benchwarmers 10, No.7 Smokin’ Rokys 1.

No. 6 Free Press Redwings 11, No. 9 French & Brawn Baggers 0.

No. 10 Steel-Pro 12, No. 4 Maine Cat 10. (9 inns.)

No. 1 Feener Pride 12, No. 12 Northeast Concrete 8.

No. 7 Smokin’ Rokys 9, No.10 Steel-Pro 8.

No. 8 Willey Wharf 14, No. 1 Feener Pride 4.

No. 5 Walter J. Read Carpentry 14, No. 4 Maine Cat 3.

No. 3 Bayview Bushwhackers 11, No. 6 Free Press Redwings 9.

No. 6 Free Press Redwings 10, No. 12 Northeast Concrete 0.

No. 13 Bonnie’s Place 16, No. 11 DX 8.

No. 8 Willey Wharf 10, No. 9 French & Brawn Baggers 8.

No. 4 Maine Cat 21, No. 13 Bonnie’s Place 6.

No. 5 Walter J. Read Carpentry 16, No. 11 DX 2.

Some of the previous champions for the decades-old league, also referred to as the Camden Adult Coed Softball League, include 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 2013-14 (Camden Herald and Free Press were the same group under different sponsorship), Maine Cat 2015, Knox County Benchwarmers 2016, Maine Cat 2017, Yandell Construction Hammerheads 2018, Knox County Benchwarmers 2019 and Maine Cat 2020.

Knox County Benchwarmers are number one again in coed softball. Photo by Ken Waltz

Team member of Bayview Bushwhackers. Photo by Mark Haskell