Jul. 25—Bonny Eagle's Little League softball team is two wins away from going to the World Series.
After winning seven straight games to take the District 6 title and Maine state 11-12 year old tournaments, Bonny Eagle rallied to beat Massachusetts, 8-5, on Saturday in its opening game of the New England Regional in Bristol, Connecticut, at the Little League East Regional headquarters.
According to District 6 Commissioner Bill Finley, Bonny Eagle's win was the first by a Maine state softball champion in 15 years at a regional tournament.
"That's something we're proud of and anything now is icing on the cake," said Bonny Eagle Coach TJ Bryant. "I think we represented well and I couldn't be more proud of these kids."
Maine previously went to the East Region — which included Delaware, Maryland, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania — until Little League added four new United States regions in 2022. The Little League Softball World Series will be Aug. 9-15, in Greenville, North Carolina.
Bonny Eagle will face Milford, Connecticut at 7 p.m. Tuesday. All tournament games are streaming on ESPN+. The winner advances to Thursday's winner-take-all championship game. The loser will play at 4 p.m. Wednesday against the winner of Tuesday's Rhode Island vs. Vermont game. The Wednesday winner also advances to the regional championship.
"We're two wins away from heading to Greenville but it's definitely a difficult road ahead," Bryant said. "No matter what happens you have to win two games, whether it's two straight or a loss and then two straight."
In Saturday's regional opener, Bonny Eagle fell behind, 5-0, when Canton, Massachusetts scored five times in the third inning against pitcher Reese Bryant, the coach's daughter, who has thrown every inning for the all-star team.
Bonny Eagle had gone through the tough District 6 tournament, beating South Portland, host Westbrook and two-time state champ Windham (twice) and then won three games in the state tournament, also in Westbrook, by a combined score of 31-0.
"Other than maybe being down 1-0 in the first inning, that was the first time we've trailed all year, the first time Reese has dealt with adversity whether it's been the regular season, all-stars, or travel ball," TJ Bryant said. "But I told them, now you're at regionals. The teams are better, there's going to be adversity, the cameras are on you and you have to figure out how you're going to deal with it."
Reese Bryant drove in one run in the bottom of the third and then Bonny Eagle scored seven times in the fifth inning. Center fielder Catherine Lopresti drove in two runs with a hit and Leah Curtis, who plays first, tied the game with a two-run triple. Bryant and Sophie Sawyer (second base) also drove in runs before the inning was over.
Now 9-0 overall in all-star competition, Bonny Eagle has relied on 5-foot-1, 92-pound Reese Bryant as its lone pitcher. The team has gotten key contributions during its tournament run from catcher Emma Twomey and shortstop and leading hitter Leah Storey.
For many years the towns of Standish, Buxton, Limington, and Hollis each had their own Little League or youth league.
"This is definitely a breakthrough. Up until two years ago the Little Leagues were four different leagues and maybe one of them would win a game in districts," TJ Bryant said. "Once we became Bonny Eagle it changed everything."
The Sanford 13-15 Babe Ruth baseball team was unable to stave off elimination in the New England Regional in Keene, New Hampshire on Monday losing to Three Corners, Vermont, 1-0. Sanford won its opener in the tourney against North Providence-Smithfield, Rhode Island, 8-0, on Friday and that was enough to advance out of pool play despite a 9-8 loss to Waterford, Connecticut, Saturday and a 10-0 loss to the host team from Keene on Sunday. ... Two other Maine state Little League champions have been crowned. Gorham won the ages 8-10 softball championship and qualified for a regional tournament in Pennsylvania, beginning Saturday. Yarmouth won the 11-under baseball state title and will start its regional in Beverly, Mass., Aug. 1. ... The state 10-12 Little League baseball championship is taking place in Waldoboro at Clyde L. Sukeforth Memorial Field. On Monday, Bonny Eagle (District 6) beat Five Towns (District 2) and Saco-Dayton (District 4) beat Sunrise of Milbridge (District 1) in elimination games and will face off against each other on Thursday. ... Portland Little League beat Bangor in its opener of the state 8-10 baseball tourney being played in Westbrook and will play Machias in Tuesday's 7:30 p.m., winners' bracket final.