Edward Little outfielder Emmy Lashua snags a line drive for an out during a softball game against Oxford Hills in May. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal File Photo)
Right from the start of the season, Edward Little’s Emmy Lashua showed she was going to be a force to be reckoned with at the plate.
The Red Eddies senior reached base all five times she came to bat in a season-opening win over Hampden Academy, and she rarely failed to reach again the rest of the season.
Lashua finished the year with a .651 batting average and .714 on-base percentage against Kennebec Valley Athletic Competition that rarely gave the Red Eddies and easy game. That dominance is a major reason why she has been named the 2018 Sun Journal All-Region Softball Player of the Year.
“She was really able to command every type of pitcher that we faced in our league, and I think that’s important,” EL coach Elaine Derosby said. “For the first three years there was just certain types of pitchers that she couldn’t hit. … This year, in 99 percent of our games, she was able to produce something.”
Lashua attributed some of that success to playing for the Southern Maine Flame travel team in the offseason, but also help from the EL coaching staff in-season and her father, Rick Lashua, out of season.
That all added up to Lashua feeling hot at the plate “right from the start” against Hampden. She drew a walk in her first plate appearance, then reached on an error her second time up. Next came an RBI double, followed by a leadoff double and a game-tying home run in the top of the seventh.
Lashua batted out of the No. 2 spot in the Red Eddies’ first two games, but soon Derosby moved her up to leadoff — a move Derosby said some people would might question because Lashua was one of EL’s best power hitters. But, taking the advice from former Team USA coach Mike Candrea, Derosby put her best, most trusted hitter at the top.
“We were the most successful with her there,” Derosby said.
Lashua showed in that first game her ability to get on base, and what it can mean for the rest of the offense.
“Having her on base to start the game, with no outs, to me, allowed the rest of our batters to just take a little bit of relaxation and to really be able to do their jobs because they knew that Emmy was already there,” Derosby said.
Batting leadoff was a welcome challenge for Lashua.
“Leadoff, it’s fun. It really keeps me on my toes throughout the game, and it really sets the pace for the game, so I want to make sure I get on a good pace for the team,” Lashua said.
In 77 plate appearances and 63 at-bats, Lashua collected 41 hits (including 10 doubles, three homers and a triple) while walking once and getting hit by pitches three times. She only struck out six times.
Part of that is due to instincts, and Derosby said those translate into the field of Lashua, who was moved from catcher to center field this season. Lashua was open to that challenge as well — “Emmy likes challenges,” Derosby said — and it only took her a few games to get accustomed to the new position.
“Center field felt way more natural than catching. I enjoyed it a lot more,” Lashua said. “It was very interesting the beginning of the year, but I got used to it, and by the end of the year it was natural.”
Derosby said Lashua’s instincts and speed — “unbeknownst to most people in the world,” according to Derosby — allowed her to be a natural in center, and her range let fellow seniors Maddie Thistlewaite and Grace Beaudet play closer to the lines to help the Red Eddies’ outfield cover more ground.
Lashua committed just three errors, while recording 22 put-outs and two assists.
“It all seemed to come together for her in every piece this year,” Derosby said.