Calming presence

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SOUTH PARIS – The last person the Oxford Hills softball team worried about entering this season was Diann Ramsey.

The junior shortstop was the only returning starter for the Vikings, and her presence provided a sense of security at that key position while other holes were being filled.

“We had to start all over everywhere else,” said Oxford Hills coach Cindy Goddard. “It was nice to know that was one piece that was in place, and that she could help some other people out.”

The Vikings lost pretty much every regular except Ramsey and outfielder/pitcher Sammy Dolloff. Dolloff has shared pitching duties with Jen Jurczak while Ramsey has been a constant at short.

“Everybody has stepped up,” said Ramsey. “Our pitching has really held us together. A lot of the young girls got adapted to it really easy. So it’s been different, but it’s good at the same time.”

Ramsey saw some time at third base early last year, but took over at short. She’s been the anchor in a young infield.

“I like the thinking part of the game,” said Ramsey. “So it’s a lot more thinking (at shortstop). There’s more movement for me. I feel more involved.”

As one of the team captains and leaders, Ramsey was involved in helping the newer players. Though she’s the most experience member of the squad, she doesn’t feel any pressure.

The revamped lineup now includes Teira Durgin behind the plate, Molly Dow at first, Tia Pratt at second, and third baseman Jen Schnoor. Emmylou Blake, Meagan Gauger and Dolloff have been regulars in the outfield while Mindy Rugg has been the designated player.

The new-look Vikings haven’t missed a beat though, building a 12-2 record and third-place ranking in Eastern A.

“It was surprising at the beginning, but as we’ve gone through the season, we’ve kind of earned it, in a way,” said Ramsey.

Ramsey has done her part in that success. While teammates are still adjusting to the varsity level, Ramsey feels much more at ease, and that has shown in her play. She says it is just a matter of having the experience and knowledge of what to expect.

“I feel more settled there on the team, especially with the players around me,” Ramsey said. “We work really well together. That helps me a lot.”

Last year, Ramsey was playing as a sophomore on a team loaded with seniors. Having more of her classmates around her has certainly made her more comfortable.

“Now she’s with her peers,” said Goddard. “So she’s in more of a comfort zone. She’s hanging out with people she normally hangs out with. I think there’s more pressure when you’re the freshman or the sophomore, and you’re the shortstop.”

Ramsey had a number of at-bats last year in the lead-off spot, but has settled in nicely batting third this year. As smooth and assured as she has been in the field, she’s been swinging a mighty bat for the Vikings.

“She’s a lot more confident hitting than she was last year,” said Dan Daniels, the Vikings assistant coach. “She never really did settle in last year, but she looks comfortable now. When she gets up there, I know she has a real good shot of hitting that.”

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