Stroup delivers for Eckerd College

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Neither a knee injury nor a significant hike in his level of competition has slowed the career path of Josh Stroup.

The right-handed pitcher from Monmouth has hurled NCAA Division II Eckerd College of St. Petersburg, Fla., to nearly half its victories this season, while permitting more than three runs per game below the staff norm.

Stroup, a sophomore transfer from the University of Southern Maine, is 6-4 with a 3.91 earned run average for the Tritons, who have collectively struggled to a 13-29 mark while weaving a 7.35 team ERA.

Eckerd’s ace has chalked up three of the Tritons’ four complete games in his 11 starts. Stroup has allowed only three home runs in 71 innings. He also leads the team with 55 strikeouts while walking only 19.

Those numbers represent a quantum leap from 2005, when Stroup was allowed a medical redshirt season after going 0-2 in five starts before his knee gave out. He fanned 13 batters in 24 2/3 innings prior to the injury.

Being out of the rotation cost Stroup a chance to pitch against his former team during Southern Maine’s spring trip in ’05. Eckerd hammered out a 21-12 triumph over the Huskies.

At Division III USM, Stroup went 1-1 in seven 2004 appearances, including three starts.

Mercier packs wallop

Thomas College’s baseball opponents can’t ignore Tim Mercier. The Terriers’ first baseman carries 245 pounds on his 6-foot-1 frame.

Never mind what happens after he picks up a bat. With its first baseman from Lewiston crafting a .369 average and knocking in a team-high 21 runs from the heart of the order, Thomas has emerged as one of the top teams in the North Atlantic Conference this spring.

Mercier, who is a senior academically but a sophomore in terms of baseball eligibility, also leads Thomas (14-17 overall, 7-3 NAC) with 41 hits and 13 doubles.

He is one of six local players and two Lewiston High graduates in the Waterville school’s dugout. Junior Aaron Bouyea has emerged as a promising starting pitcher. While he lost his only decision to date, Bouyea carries a 2.45 ERA and has tossed a complete game. He’s also hitting .225 in outfield duty.

Sophomore pitcher Brian Gardner and freshman catcher Shane Kibler (.250) give the Terriers a young but experienced battery. The two previously worked together at Monmouth.

Sophomore Mike Chamard of Livermore Falls is taking advantage of his occasional starts, batting .373 with 10 RBIs. Freshman outfielder Bryan Metayer of Leeds (Leavitt) is also seeing time at Thomas.

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Locals lower boom in laugher

It also has been a productive softball season at Thomas. The Terriers are 16-18 overall and 6-4 in the league with four area players either firmly entrenched in the starting lineup or playing a platoon role.

Thomas recently rattled off four conference victories in a row, highlighted by a doubleheader sweep of Johnson State on Sunday that began with a 25-0 whitewashing. Turner sophomore Lindsay Sierra (Leavitt) delivered two hits in the rout, including a triple, and knocked in two runs. Charlee Hayes, a junior out of Buckfield, was 3-for-5 with four RBIs in her portion of the hit parade.

The Terriers also jolted Johnson State in the nightcap, 5-1. Hayes, sophomore Kim Denbow of Readfield (Maranacook) and freshman Mallory Thurston of Rumford (Mountain Valley) combined for all the RBIs in that verdict.

Sierra has nine RBIs on the season, with Hayes plating seven runs.

Terrific transition

When she’s not confronting the classroom demands at one of New England’s premier liberal arts colleges – as documented in the Sun Journal’s occasional Sunday series, “Following the Freshmen” – Ali Coleman of Lewiston is standing in the batter’s box or crouching behind the plate and providing a huge boost for the Bowdoin College softball team.

Coleman has started 25 games as a freshman catcher, batting .260. And most of her hits are coming in key situations, as evidenced by three home runs and 14 RBIs. Both totals rank third on the team.

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