It was a season of near-misses for three local softball teams in 2009. The Telstar and Buckfield girls both won regional titles but lost in the state game, while the Gray-New Gloucester Patriots reached the regional final, only to fall short against Fryeburg.
This season, those three clubs have set their sights on completing the task they nearly achieved last year. The Rebels and Bucks are again teams to watch in Western C and D, respectively, while the Patriots should contend in Western B.
Here’s a look at the upcoming softball season and the local team’s chances.
Edward Little won 11 regular-season games last year. The Red Eddies expect another playoff team with six returning starters back. In addition to pitcher Miranda Martin, EL returns infielders Megan Hussar, Emily Grund, Melissa Paione and Kayla Cummings. Emily Johnson is back in the outfield. EL has also added Kirsten Prue behind the plate.
Oxford Hills has some holes to fill after winning 13 games. The Vikings graduated both pitchers, but return seniors Brooke Ladd, Frankie Severance, Jaidyn Rice and Brooke Washer. Juniors Mariah Martin, Dayna Schultz and sophomore Breanna Martin are also returning starters.
Mt. Blue missed out on a playoff spot with six wins. The Cougars have a new coach and a promising team, led by outfielders Taryn Kennedy and Hannah Allen, shortstop Kelly Yardley, catcher Chelsea Kendall and third baseman Tanisha Dellarma. Sophomore Alexis Howard leads a list of newcomers and will be the starting pitcher, with help from junior Michaela Yeaton.
Lewiston won just one game but has several veterans back, including seniors Jess Beaudoin, Olivia Cote, Carley Denis, Mariah Conway, Michelle Caron, Patricia DeFosse, Kailey Martin and juniors Kati Dumais, Kourtney Bartlett, Lauren Eldridge and Tamara Roy.
Cony and Skowhegan should be the favorites in the tournament again, while Bangor and Brewer should also be strong. Erksine has most of its team back and Messalonskee could be improved and in the playoff hunt.
Gray-New Gloucester returns a veteran lineup and should be a threat. The Patriots have one of the state’s top pitchers in Laura Getchell and a lineup around her that returns an experienced club.
While York and Maranacook should be teams to watch in Western B as well, Oak Hill could be in the playoff mix. The Raiders have just one senior, first baseman Sarah Albert, but return seven other starters including junior pitcher Lauren Hall, catcher Taylor Fillion, shortstop Abby Goulet, outfielders Becca Belaire and Katie Wood and sophomores Marrissa Gaskin and Alex Shaw.
Mountain Valley earned a prelim berth with eight wins and hope to build upon that success. Lisbon and Poland are two teams looking to improve from last year. The Greyhounds won three games as seven of the nine starters were new varsity players. Lisbon should be more seasoned with nine players back. Poland went winless and have a new coach this year. The Knights have seven returning players.
Leavitt makes the move to Eastern B after winning six games in Eastern A last year. The Hornets are a young club with just three regular returning, including pitcher Adrie Newton, catcher Tori Zupancic and outfielder Emily Murphy.
Telstar graduated just two seniors from a team that lost in the state final. The Rebels have sophomore pitcher Kayla Merrill and Sam Largess behind the plate. Also back are starters Tara Cowin, Hannah Morin, Lindsay James, Sarah Averill and Nicena Walker.
Georges Valley lost in the regional final and graduated five but still should be one of the top clubs in the MVC. Hall-Dale could also be a force.
St. Dom’s returned both pitchers, Lindsey Nance and Hannah Sterling, but a wrist injury has put Nance out of action.
Jay lost three regulars and returns with pitcher Lexii Smith, Brittany DiPompo, Beth Moore and Netta Shank. Livermore Falls also lost three seniors and have the core of its team back with pitcher Kaitlyn Townsend, infielders Kathryn Ventrella, Kathryn Lake, Marissa Welch, Jayde Purrington and outfielder Jenny Freeman. Mt. Abram and Monmouth should be in the playoff hunt as well. The Roadrunners return pitcher Molly McCafferty and veterans like Dani Smith, Jillian Withee and Kylie Rolbiecki. Monmouth returns pitcher Reen Kahl after a fine freshman year and have 12 players after playing with just nine a year ago.
Dirigo hopes to build on last year’s seven victories with seniors Katrina Pulk, Morgan Hutchins, junior Kyme Dolloff and sophomore Alyssa Charity and Alyssa Wade.
The Western D title usually comes down to an annual battle between Buckfield and Richmond and this season should be no different. The Bucks won 12 games and earned the top seed on their way to the regional title. Buckfield has five seniors back and most of its starting lineup. The Bucks have two pitchers, Brittany Wiley and Heather Clavet, and return shortstop Ashlee Hamann, who missed last year with a knee injury.
Richmond graduated two and should be a contender again.
Rangeley should be improved after just one win, while teams like Forest Hills and Vinalhaven will try to be in the mix in the EWC.