ROCKLAND — The anticipation of the players for three long, nerve-wracking days must have been excruciating. They were, undoubtedly, chomping at the bit to get back on their recreational field of dreams.

After the final game — one for all the marbles — in the 2022 Camden Adult Coed Softball League season had to be postponed on Friday, Aug. 26 due to inclement weather, Free Press Redwings and Benchwarmers had to patiently wait to step back on the diamond and square off for the coveted cup.

Ultimately, in some ways, the game was worth the wait as the highly-competitive opponents battled to the final out on Monday night, Aug. 29 at Jaycee Park as Free Press literally and figuratively held on for a 4-3 victory.

Free Press Redwings hold the championship cup as the top birds in the Camden Adult Coed Softball League postseason tournament for 2022. Photo by Mark Haskell

Redwings and Benchwarmers are multi-time league champs and it was no surprise when they emerged to meet in this year’s finale.

However, one team, namely Free Press, had to put its nose to the grindstone and go through a gauntlet of playoff opponents to earn the crown.

No. 2 Redwings lost to No. 3 Benchwarmers earlier in the playoffs and needed to win five straight elimination games, including contests against the No. 1, No. 3 and No. 4 squads.

Free Press Redwing Lucas Brower, middle, embraces Zoey Proctor after the two worked together to record the game-ending double play against Benchwarmers on Aug. 29 in the Camden Adult Coed Softball League championship game in Rockland. Free Press beat Benchwarmers 4-3. Joel Gabriele races in from left. Photo by Mark Haskell

Monday’s championship game ended in dramatic fashion with an incredible defensive play by the Redwings — namely, relief pitcher Lucas Brower.

Benchwarmer Sara Cullity. Photo by Mark Haskell

As Free Press clung to a precarious 4-3 advantage, Ben Ripley singled and, with one out, Dylan Maloney hit a scalding line drive back to Lucas Brower, who caught the ball as he fell to the ground. Lucas Brower collected himself and threw to first base to double off Ripley to end the game.

That clutch play helped the Redwings fly off with the championship.

It was, perhaps, a fitting conclusion to an amazing final game in the popular 15-team league.

Free Press Redwing Austin Sousa, left, and Benchwarmer Tim Jackson. Photo by Mark Haskell

The equally-matched foes finished the regular season 11-3.

In the playoffs, Free Press went 6-1 (after starting 1-1), to push their overall mark for the campaign to 17-4. Benchwarmers were 3-2 in the postseason and 14-5 overall.

With the season finished, Free Press outscored opponents 249-120, while Benchwarmers stands at 221-95.

Benchwarmers Jason Yates, left, and Dylan Maloney. Photo by Mark Haskell

Free Press Redwings, distinguished by the patches of, well, Redwings on some portion of their game-day attire, include Lucas Brower, Reade Brower, Crosby Johnson, Sam Vail, Isaac Brower, Joel Gabriele, Austin Sousa, Zach Wincklhofer, Fritz Burke, Scott Hastings, Doug Curtis, Mark Merchant, Juliette Laaka, Zoey Proctor, Kristy Hastings, Katlyn Rich, Marie Lufkin, Olga Zimmerman, Kathleen Capetta, Parker Gassett, Ibra Moustapher, Matthew Curtis, Maggie Hirshland, Alice Podolsky and Hillary Cunningham Chaloux.

Benchwarmers include Lee Smith, Becca Smith, Tim Jackson, Sara Cullity, Abby Veilleux, Jason Yates, Dylan Maloney, Jordan Carter, Jay Young, Ben Ripley, Chris Burns, Kim Young, Jenn Daniels, Hunter Allen, David Young, Daphne Ripley, Robin Carter and Jessie Maloney. The manager is Lilly Smith and equipment manager Otis Smith.

Robert Hastings, son of Scott and Kristy Hastings of Free Press Redwings, carries the coveted championship cup around the bases. Photo by Mark Haskell

In Monday’s final game, Free Press scored one run in the second, one in the fourth and two in the sixth. Benchwarmers tallied two in the first and one in the third.

For the Redwings, Laaka (single), Hirshland (single, run), Gabriele (2 singles, run), Sousa (single, 2 triple, 2 runs, 2 RBIs, game-deciding hit in sixth), Scott Hastings (single, 2 RBIs), Isaac Brower (single), Burke (single) and Proctor (single) led the offense.

For Benchwarmers, Carter (run), Veilleux (single), Yates (double, run, RBI), Jackson (2 singles, RBI), Jay Young (single), Ripley (2 singles), Cullity (single), Becca Smith/Daniels (single) and Lee Smith (single, run) keyed the charge.

Benchwarmers grabbed a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, as Yates belted an RBI-double and Jackson a run-scoring single.

Free Press tallied one in the second as Sousa singled, moved to Kristy Hastings’ single and came in on a single by Scott Hastings.

Lee Smith led the third with a single and raced home later in frame on an error to give the defending champs a 3-1 cushion.

In the bottom of the fourth, Sousa led with a triple to deep right-center field and crossed the plate on Scott Hastings’ sacrifice fly to make it 3-2.

The game-changing at-bat for the Redwings came in the bottom of the sixth as Hirshland and Gabriele singled and Sousa had a two-run triple before being thrown out at the plate.

In meetings between the opponents this season, Free Press has won 10-6, 6-2 and 4-3 and lost 11-10.

Previous game

With the parking lot at Jaycee Park overflowing with vehicles, many situated near the venue’s Old County Road entrance, on a glorious late-summer night, No. 3 Benchwarmers looked to secure their second straight Camden Adult Coed Softball League championship, while No. 2 Free Press Redwings hoped to keep its postseason train rolling, stave off elimination and live to fight another day.

In front of a large crowd of spectators, many fellow league players, Redwings scored two early runs and grabbed a 6-0 advantage — and control — against Benchwarmers on Thursday night, Aug. 25 to forge a 6-2 win and force a winner-take-all championship finale on Monday, Aug. 29 back at the same venue.

Benchwarmer Tim Jackson. Photo by Mark Haskell

On Thursday, Free Press built a 6-0 advantage, thanks, in the early going, on the long ball. Gabriele homered to center field in the first inning and Isaac Brower to deep left in the second. In the fourth, Scott Hastings had an RBI-single to give the Redwings a 3-0 cushion.

Free Press scored three more in the fifth as it loaded the bases and Gabriele plated a run on a fielder’s choice, then Vail roped a two-run double to right and was tagged out as he tried to stretch it into a triple for the final out of the stanza.

Benchwarmer Jay Young. Photo by Mark Haskell

Benchwarmers got on the board with two runs in the bottom of the seventh. Jackson led with a deep double to right field and was doubled home by Ripley. Kim Young’s single plated Ripley before the next three batters were retired.

For Free Press, Laaka (single, double, run), Gabriele (single, home run, 2 runs), Vail (2 doubles), Lucas Brower (single, run), Lufkin (single), Isaac Brower (home run), Burke (double, run), Reade Brower (single) and Johnson (single) keyed the offense.

Free Press Redwing Lucas Brower. Photo by Mark Haskell

For Benchwarmers, Ripley (2 singles, double, run), Carter (single), Veilleux (double), Yates (single), Jackson (double, run), Kim Young (single), Cullity (single) and Jay Young (single) keyed the offense.

The league included a single-elimination playoff tournament followed by a double-elimination portion of the postseason.

Benchwarmer Sara Cullity. Photo by Mark Haskell

This year’s playoff tourney for the 15 teams included a single-elimination bracket for squads who finished eight through 15. The ultimate survivor of that tourney, No. 10 Smokin’ Rokys, entered the double-elimination portion of the postseason.

The regular season, which included nine weeks of play, began on Monday, June 13 and concluded on Thursday, Aug. 11. The postseason began on Friday, Aug. 12 and will conclude on Friday, Aug. 26.

Games are played during the week (not weekends) at Jaycee Park on Old County Road in Rockland, former Rockport Elementary School field off Rt. 1, Marge Jones Recreational Facility in Rockport, Camden Snow Bowl, Thomaston Little League Field and Lincolnville Central School. Games also have been played in Hope in the past.

Free Press Redwings in the Camden Adult Coed Softball League. Photo by Mark Haskell

The final regular-season standings were: Bushwhackers, 13-1, .929 winning percentage; Free Press Redwings, 11-3, .786; Benchwarmers, 11-3, .786; Bat-itude, 10-4, .714; Walter J. Read Carpentry, 10-4, .714; Willey Wharf, 9-5, .643; French & Brawn Baggers, 7-7, .500; Feener Pride, 7-7, .500; Steel-Pro, 7-7, .500; Smokin’ Rokys, 6-8, .429; Cats ’N Bats, 6-8, .429; Northeast Concrete, 5-9, .357; Graffam Brothers Lobstars, 2-12, .143; Fresh Off The Farm, 1-13, .071; and Good Guys, 0-14, .000.

During the regular season, Bushwhackers outscored opponents 217-60; Bat-itude, 163-130; Free Press, 187-88; Benchwarmers, 174-63; F&B Baggers, 177-140; Walter J. Read Carpentry, 186-128; Willey Wharf, 135-111; Cats ‘N Bats, 143-116; and Feener Pride, 134-132. On the flip side, Good Guys have been outscored 46-243.

Benchwarmers in the Camden Adult Coed Softball League. Photo by Mark Haskell

The scores from the single- and double-elimination playoff tourneys were:

Aug. 25 — No. 2 Free Press Redwings 6, No. 3 Benchwarmers 2.

Aug. 24 — No. 2 Free Press Redwings 10, No. 4 Bat-itude 1.

Free Press Redwing Reade Brower. Photo by Mark Haskell

Aug. 23 — No. 2 Free Press Redwings 10, No. 7 French & Brawn Baggers 0.

Aug. 22 — No. 3 Benchwarmers 20, No. 4 Bat-itude 2; No. 2 Free Press Redwings 17, No. 1 Bushwhackers 15; and No. 7 French & Brawn Baggers 12, No. 10 Smokin’ Rokys 11.

Aug. 19 – No. 4 Bat-itude 12, No. 10 Smokin’ Rokys 6.

Aug. 18 — No. 1 Bushwhackers 14, No. 5 Walter J. Read Carpentry 2; No. 3 Benchwarmers 11, No. 2 Free Press Redwings 10; and No. 7 French & Brawn Baggers 18, No. 5 Willey Wharf 14.

Aug. 17 — No. 10 Smokin’ Rokys won by forfeit over No. 1 Bushwhackers. Erik Nason, league president, said Bushwhackers violated a league rule and teams voted to send the top-ranked squad to the loser’s bracket for the postseason.

Aug. 16 — No. 2 Free Press Redwings 5, No. 7 French & Brawn Baggers 0; No. 3 Benchwarmers 11, No. 6 Willey Wharf 10; and No. 10 Smokin’ Rokys 4, No. 11 Cats ’N Bats 2.

Free Press Redwing Fritz Burke. Photo by Mark Haskell

Aug. 15 — No. 11 Cats ’N Bats 6, No. 8 Feener Pride 2; No. 10 Smokin’ Rokys 15, No. 9 Steel-Pro 14; and No. 4 Bat-itude 5, No. 5 Walter J. Read Carpentry 3.

Aug. 12 — No. 8 Feener Pride 20, No. 15 Good Guys 2; No. 11 Cats ’N Bats 6, No. 12 Northeast Concrete 2; No. 9 Steel-Pro 21, No. 14 Fresh Off The Farm 5; and No. 10 Smokin’ Rokys 11, No. 13 Graffam Brothers Lobstars 0.

Regular-season scores

Walter J. Read Carpentry 13, French & Brawn Baggers 10.

Free Press Redwings 6, Feener Pride 2.

Willey Wharf 11, Cats ’N Bats 10.

Smokin’ Rokys’ Danny Wellman, left, and Sarah Grant. Photo by Ken Waltz

Bat-itude 9, Northeast Concrete 4.

Steel-Pro 15, Graffam Brothers Lobstars 4.

Free Press Redwings 14, Cats ’N Bats 4.

Bushwhackers 31, Fresh Of The Farm 5.

Feener Pride 11, Good Guys 6.

Willey Wharf’s Will Incremona. Photo by Ken Waltz

Fresh Off The Farm 11, Good Guys 6.

Cats ’N Bats 11, Northeast Concrete 1.

Willey Wharf 12, Steel-Pro 7.

Benchwarmers 13, Cats ’N Bats 3.

Benchwarmer Ben Ripley. Photo by Ken Waltz

French & Brawn Baggers 25, Smokin’ Rokys 7.

Walter J. Read Carpentry 33, Fresh Off The Farm 9.

Willey Wharf 9, Northeast Concrete 8.

Steel-Pro 14, Bat-itude 8.

Benchwarmers 23, Smokin’ Rokys 9.

Smokin’ Roky Lauren Sargent. Photo by Ken Waltz

Free Press Redwings 18, Graffam Brothers Lobstars 9.

Feener Pride 12, French & Brawn Baggers 10.

Bushwhackers 18, Good Guys 0.

Walter J. Read Carpentry 19, Graffam Brothers Lobstars 2.

Cats ’N Bats 12, Steel-Pro 5.

French & Brawn Bagger Rowena Motylewski. Photo by Ken Waltz

Northeast Concrete 9, French & Brawn Baggers 7.

Bat-itude 9, Feener Pride 7.

Bushwhackers 24, Smokin’ Rokys 6.

Free Press Redwings 25, Good Guys 8.

Willey Wharf 12, Fresh Off The Farm 6.

French & Brawn Bagger Jack Hopkins. Photo by Ken Waltz

French & Brawn Baggers 10, Cats ’N Bats 9.

Walter J. Read Carpentry 20, Steel-Pro 3.

Walter J. Read Carpentry 10, Willey Wharf 9.

Cats ’N Bats 20, Fresh Off The Farm 4.

Willey Wharf’s Chris Leon. Photo by Ken Waltz

French & Brawn 16, Free Press Redwings 4.

Cats ’N Bats 17, Good Guys 1.

Willey Wharf 13, Smokin’ Rokys 9.

Benchwarmers 10, Bat-itude 9.

Benchwarmer Sara Cullity stumbles but maintains her balance after a tough catch. Photo by Ken Waltz

Northeast Concrete 20, Fresh Off The Farm 7.

Bushwhackers 15, French & Brawn Baggers 3.

Feener Pride 11, Graffam Brothers Lobstars 10.

Bat-itude 23, Graffam Brothers Lobstars 1.

Benchwarmers 12, Northeast Concrete 0.

Willey Wharf’s Walter Marr. Photo by Ken Waltz

Bushwhackers 15, Feener Pride 5.

Steel-Pro 7, Smokin’ Rokys 4.

Bat-itude 19, French & Brawn Baggers 12.

Bushwhackers 14, Free Press Redwings 10.

French & Brawn Bagger Cassidy Fimple. Photo by Ken Waltz

Bushwhackers 11, Northeast Concrete 1.

French & Brawn Baggers 13, Fresh Off The Farm 3.

Smokin’ Rokys 10, Bat-itude 8. (9 inns.)

Free Press Redwings 18, Steel-Pro 6.

Cats ’N Bats 9, Graffam Brothers Lobstars 0.

Benchwarmer Abby Veilleux, right, and Willey Wharf’s Amanda Catalano. Photo by Ken Waltz

Willey Wharf 11, Good Guys 0.

Smokin’ Rokys 25, Graffam Brothers Lobsters 13.

Benchwarmers 18, Walter J. Read Carpentry 3.

Steel-Pro 6, Northeast Concrete 5.

Bushwhackers 21. Cats ’N Bats 0.

Benchwarmers 12, French & Brawn Baggers 6.

Smokin’ Rokys 20, Feener Pride 15.

Bat-itude 8, Free Press Redwings 7.

Willey Wharf’s Jacinda Martinez. Photo by Ken Waltz

Free Press Redwings 21, Fresh Off The Farm 2.

Graffam Brothers Lobstars 13, Good Guys 3.

Cats ’N Bats 26, Bat-itude 8.

Walter J. Read Carpentry 20, Smokin’ Rokys 3.

Northeast Concrete 16, Good Guys 9.

Bushwhackers 9, Wiley Wharf 4.

Walter J. Read Carpentry 8, Northeast Concrete 2.

Feener Pride 7, Fresh Off The Farm 3.

Benchwarmers wins by forfeit over Steel-Pro.

Smokin’ Rokys 8, Cats ’N Bats 7.

Bat-itude 9, Fresh Off The Farm 5.

Free Press Redwings 29, Willey Wharf 1. (5 inns.)

Bat-itude 16, Walter J. Read Carpentry 13. (9 inns.)

Bushwhackers 11, Steel-Pro 5.

Northeast Concrete 6, Smokin’ Rokys 3.

French & Brawn Baggers 28, Graffam Brothers Lobstars 10. (5 inns.)

Walter J. Read Carpentry 22, Good Guys 4.

Feener Pride 8, Benchwarmers 7.

Steel-Pro 23, Good Guys 5. (4 inns.)

Bushwhackers 9, Benchwarmers 6.

Willey Wharf 9, Feener Pride 8.

Bat-itude 50, Good Guys 2.

French & Brawn Baggers 13, Steel-Pro 6.

Smokin’ Rokys 38, Good Guys 0.

Free Press Redwings 13, Walter J. Read Carpentry 5.

Willey Wharf 20, French & Brawn Baggers 5.

Feener Pride 12, Cats ’N Bats 7.

Benchwarmers won by forfeit over Graffam Brothers Lobstars.

Benchwarmers 37, Fresh Off The Farm 1.

Willey Wharf 10, Graffam Brothers Lobstars 2.

Feener Pride 17, Northeast Concrete 7.

Bat-itude 11, Willey Wharf 10.

Walter J. Read Carpentry 11, Cats ’N Bats 7.

Free Press Redwings 10, Benchwarmers 6.

Smokin’ Rokys 15, Fresh Off The Farm 6.

Free Press Redwings 9, Smokin’ Rokys 2.

Steel-Pro 17, Fresh Off The Farm 10.

French & Brawn Baggers 21, Good Guys 1.

Benchwarmers 7, Willey Wharf 4.

Bushwhackers 35, Graffam Brothers Lobstars 1.

Steel-Pro 12, Feener Pride 9.

Northeast Concrete 19, Graffam Brothers Lobstars 3.

Bushwhackers 25, Walter J. Read Carpentry 4.

Graffam Brothers Lobstars 25, Fresh Off The Farm 5.

Walter J. Read Carpentry 11, Feener Pride 10.

Benchwarmers 42, Good Guys 1.

Free Press Redwings 14, Northeast Concrete 5.

Bat-itude 10, Bushwhackers 9.

MaineStay Media/VillageSoup sports staff can be reached by email at sports@villagesoup.com.