Winthrop’s Layne Audet, left, and Monmouth’s Emily Chasse are rivals during the high school softball season, but will be teammates this summer for the Maine Illusion travel team. (Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal)
With the amount of knowledge dueling aces Layne Audet of Winthrop and Emily Chasse of Monmouth had on each other, it almost seemed like the two were teammates.
Well, because they are.
They were rivals on the softball diamond recently when Audet’s Ramblers and Chasse’s Mustangs squared off in an early-season Mountain Valley Conference tilt, but this summer the two will be in the same dugout for the Maine Illusion 18U tournament team.
“The team is new this year, but I played with Layne last year on their summer team, and we got to know each other, and we knew each other from past playing,” Chasse said.
The Mustangs’ top pitcher said it was a little different playing with Ramblers — instead of against them — last summer.
“It’s interesting at first,” Chasse said. “I remember one of our first practices together they tried to get us to say, ‘Ramblers,’ and we wouldn’t. It’s interesting because we’re used to playing against them, but when we play together it’s really good.”
Audet called it a fun experience.
“I’m really glad that I can play with girls from other schools who we’re rivals with, and it also kind of helps when we play them because we know their strengths too,” Audet said.
That familiarity between the two teams — and the two pitchers — helped both squads when the Ramblers hosted the Mustangs last week. Winthrop jumped on Chasse early, scoring enough runs in the first inning to hold on for a 4-3 win. The Mustangs eventually figured out Audet after she no-hit the Monmouth batting order the first time through.
“A lot of (the Monmouth) girls now we’ve become familiar with, so we kind of know where to pitch them, and Layne is really good at hitting her spots,” said Winthrop coach Chuck Gurney, who will be the head coach of the Illusion team.
Gurney said after the game that he told his team to get on Chasse early, knowing she is one of the top pitchers in the Mountain Valley Conference and she would get settled eventually.
“Emily’s a very good pitcher, and I saw that she just kept working hard, kept doing what she needed to do,” Audet said. “She’s very good.”
Chasse knows first-hand how good of a pitcher Audet is, too, and still couldn’t find success against her counterpart in her first at-bat.
“At first I always have trouble hitting against her because they know what I don’t like to hit, so they pitch it,” Chasse said. “And I was having trouble because I’m waiting for my pitch. So first way through the lineup I struck out because they’re not my favorite pitches, and then second way through I knew I had to hit them, and I just started to.”
The regular-season game went the opposite way of a preseason scrimmage between the two rivals. The Mustangs won that won with ease.
“I’m very happy because we played them in preseason and it was not a good game for us,” Audet said. “For us to come back in-season and beat them, it’s a great feeling.”
Audet said she and Chasse didn’t talk before the most recent matchup, but they both knew how much they wanted to beat each other, despite their budding friendship.
“We’ve become really close,” Chasse said. “Like we can joke around during the games. We always joke around about playing with each other and against each other.”
Gurney called getting to see his future summer aces square off in the circle “outstanding.”
He’s also happy to have both of them on his Illusion team, rather than only getting one and having to face the other. But those won’t be the only two players the Illusion has to lean on.
“We’re bringing back Kayleigh Oberg, that played for me. Julia Nadeau that plays at Thomas (and played at Gardiner) is coming to play with us. Four Monmouth girls, four (other) Winthrop girls,” Gurney said. “It’s great because Emily and Layne, off the field, they’re great friends. So it’s going to be a pleasure to have both of them with us, I know that.”
Joining Audet from Winthrop are Kate Perkins, Moriah Hajduk, Sam Allen, Maria Dostie and Oberg, who now plays at UMaine-Farmington. Chasse will have fellow Mustangs Haylee Langlois, Abby Ferland and Mariah Herr on the team. Macey Phillips from Mt. Blue will also be on the roster.
Winthrop pitcher Layne Audet fires a delivery during a game against Monmouth in Winthrop on Monday. (Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal)Monmouth pitcher Emily Chasse follows through on her delivery during a game in Winthrop on Monday. (Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal)Monmouth’s Emily Chasse fires a pitch home during a game in Winthrop on Monday. (Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal)Winthrop’s Layne Audet, left, and Monmouth’s Emily Chasse are rivals during the high school softball season, but will be teammates this summer for the Maine Illusion travel team. (Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal)