The plan was for Lyndsay Merrill to play a significant leadership role for her Telstar softball team this season.
The senior shortstop and catcher is living up to those expectations — just not in the way she had hoped.
Merrill injured her knee in the first scrimmage of the season, and it has put her on the sideline for her entire senior year. It is the second year that Merrill has missed to a knee injury.
"She was such an important part for us," Telstar coach Jim Lunney said. "She's taking it a whole lot better than me. She's here every day supporting the kids. To lose her in the first scrimmage of the year is tough."
Merrill missed her freshman year but was a standout shortstop as a sophomore and helped lead the Rebels to the Class C state title. She was the catcher last spring for her sister, Kayla, as Telstar repeated as state champs.
Telstar lost much of last year's club. Only Merrill, Tasha Farnum and Kalle Brown are returning starters from that team.
In the preseason, Merrill drilled a gapper against Fryeburg.
"I hit the ball over the centerfielder's head," said Merrill, who hopes to play at Husson with her sister next year. "I would have easily had a home run but there was a freshman on third base who wasn't really experienced. So she was standing on third, and I didn't see her in time. So I couldn't stop. We just collided wrong."
At first Merrill hoped the injury wasn't too bad.
"I got up and walked home on the interference call," she said. "But it hurt. I tried to go back out into the field and it was extremely tight. I couldn't really move well."
She hoped it was just a sprain but learned soon after that she had an ACL tear and a fractured tibia.
"She's still the leader, but if she was still at short or at catcher and then batting, it would mean a world of difference," said Lunney. "We'd be much better off."
Still, Merrill is trying to stay positive and help the team the best she can. She comes to practice and is in the dugout for games. She's still an important part of the squad, just in a different role.
"It's not fun," said Merrill of watching another season from the dugout. "I still try to help them out as much as I can and be a leader. It's nice to still be involved, and I help out as much as I can."
On the rise
With only five upperclassmen, you might expect the Mountain Valley Falcons to have limited expectations this season. But after a 5-2 start and an impressive win over Telstar, the Falcons are making themselves known in Western B.
"Coming into the season, I had high expectations for them because they'd been together for a while," said Mountain Valley assistant coach Gary Dolloff, who coached much of the team at the lower levels. "We had a really good hitting team, and I'd been able to see (Lindsay) Marston pitch this summer."
The Falcons have two hurlers in Marston and Brooke Dolloff. Add a solid defensive team and a potent offense and Mountain Valley has made some noise in the MVC and will be challenging for a playoff berth.
The Falcons scored 68 runs through their first seven games and are ranked seventh in a very competitive Western B. Monmouth and Dirigo provided the two setbacks, but Mountain Valley has solid wins over Spruce Mountain, Telstar and Lisbon.
"They've been together since they were seven," said coach Lisa Russell. "They're seasoned together."
Lewiston earned its first win of the season by beating Brunswick Wednesday. The Blue Devils had lost to the Dragons by one earlier in the year.
"We're putting stuff together," said coach Molly Leopin. "We're improving. The kids are trying hard and giving us everything they've got. It's really just about grinding it out and going hard."
Erica Brochu had four hits against the Dragons and drove in three runs. Meagan Mathon had a two-run homer and had three hits. Michelle Milia scattered four hits in the win.
Earlier in the week, the Blue Devils played well in a 7-2 loss to Edward Little.
"The last few games we've played, we've done good things," said coach Ashley Woodcock. "They hit the ball hard. We just haven't gotten the breaks other teams have. Once we do, I think it will snowball the rest of the way."