There was a point in Lyndsay Merrill’s softball career when she could have said, “Enough is enough.”

While at Telstar Regional High School, she endured two ACL surgeries and missed the better part of two softball seasons, including her senior year.

But she still had a passion for the sport. Equally important, she has an older sister, Kayla, who shared the same sentiment.

“I definitely think back and think that I could have easily stopped,” Lyndsay said. “A lot of people do that. I just wanted to keep going and Kayla was a big supporter in that.”

Kayla Merrill had already established herself at Husson University. Playing college softball was something about which Lyndsay had also dreamed.

“Having Kayla ahead of me and seeing her keep playing, I thought I could definitely play through my injuries,” Lyndsay said.


Lyndsay, now a junior at Husson, has had yet another knee surgery while in college, and also had a front tooth knocked out earlier this season while on a spring trip in Florida. She finished the game with a broken tooth and had it fixed later.

“When I got back out there, I could play as hard as I could. I knew (Kayla) would be there to support me,” she said. “My parents would and my coaches would also. So I knew I could come back just as strong if I worked just as hard as I normally do.”

With the added symbiotic motivation, the Merrill sisters have coexisted in college the way they have, since playing softball in farm league. They’ve challenged each other. They’ve pushed each other. They’ve supported each other. They’ve competed against each other and for each other.

And they’ve won together.

“Lyndsay’s definitely been my biggest motivator,” Kayla said. “In practices and whatnot, she’s definitely right there. We’re always together to motivate each other to do better and have competitions with each other. We’re both competitive. So that helped us stay on track and work on our skills.”

The two won a pair of state championships together at Telstar, and have now won three North Atlantic Conference tournament titles, part of Husson’s seven-year run.


A win in the team’s upcoming Division III regional tournament appearance would be another for the mental trophy case. Husson begins play Friday against Eastern Connecticut State at Wheaton College in Norton, Mass.

“We used to be in the outfield picking daisies when we were younger,” Lyndsay said. “Now it’s come to be something so much bigger. I don’t think we ever expected it.”

“There’s no one else on the team that I’m closer with than Lyndsay,” Kayla said. “She’s my best friend on and off the field. It’s been pretty special that she’s been part of every single one for me. I wouldn’t want anyone else beside me or behind me playing than my sister.”

While success in the NCAA tourney could be the pinnacle for the Merrill sisters, Kayla’s career will end with the season. This year, she was named NAC Player and Pitcher of the Year. She has another year of college left to earn her nursing degree, but her eligibility to compete in softball is up after this season. Lyndsay, who was an NAC All Conference player as well, will be on her own next season.

“It’s definitely hard to think about because ever since we were little, we definitely had a great run through all the years we’ve played together,” Lynsday said. “We went from farm league championships together and all the way up through to now, where we’re winning college championships. It’s a really hard thing to think about.”

Kayla is well aware the end of her college career is near. The four-team regional runs through this weekend, with the Super Regionals to follow May 14-16.


“I’m definitely not ready to be done with softball forever,” Kayla said. “I have started to think about it, and that I could only have a couple of games left. My teammates don’t let me forget it. My catcher every day reminds me it could be my last game going into it. She tries to use it as motivation.”

The Merrills began playing softball at age six. Jim Merrill, their father, who was a pitcher and catcher for Telstar’s state championship baseball team in 1989, was their first coach. He would sing “I love softball” to them as little kids, and taught them to say, “I love softball.” Their love of the game and the skills they developed soon spoke for them.

They went on to be all-star players for Jim Lunney’s Telstar Rebels and won three consecutive Western Class C titles, along with back-to-back state championships in 2010 and 2011.

When Kayla went to Husson, Lyndsay was the veteran on Telstar’s team her senior year, but she injured her knee in preseason and was out for the year.

She wasn’t done playing though. As challenging as that senior year was and the recovery that followed, she wanted to continue. She had options for other schools, but chose to follow Kayla to Husson.

“Husson’s program was the top one in Maine as far as Division III,” Lyndsay said. “It was definitely a spot where I wanted to be. Having Kayla there, I knew we could pick up from where we left off in high school.”


While some siblings opt to go to different schools and seek independence, the Merril’s saw strength in their numbers and in their relationship. They made each other better and the past three seasons have proven that.

“If we went to different schools and played against each other, it would have been a completely different story,” Lyndsay said. “I don’t think I’d be the player I am today. We really push each other in practices and in games and other things we do. If we were on separate teams, that wouldn’t be there. So the big benefit is that we both make each other play and practice as hard as we can. If that wasn’t there, we wouldn’t be what we are today.”

The Merrills were an offensive force for Husson (26-11) this season. Kayla, who has been the NAC Player of the Year for two straight years, led the team with a .437 batting average while driving in 18 runs with three homers. She scored 35 runs and had 52 hits. She also went 15-4 in 18 starts and had an ERA of just 1.38. She led or tied for the lead in the NAC in four offensive categories.

Lyndsay, a sports management major,  batted .407 and scored 27 runs with 46 hits. She drove in 20 runs and had one homer.

“This year has definitely been the best for Kayla and I and as far as the team, it’s been our best year together as a team,” Lyndsay said. “Everyone on the team has the utmost confidence this year going down there. We’re ready to win and bring home a regional trophy and then move on to the Super Regionals.”

Husson is playing in its third consecutive regional. The Eagles’ season ended in the regional a year ago with two losses in three games in New Jersey. This year, they’re playing on a familiar field at Wheaton College, where they’ve previously played — and won. They defeated Wheaton earlier this season and narrowly lost to Eastern Conn, 1-0.


“This year, the whole team mentality is at a whole other level because we know we can beat at least two out of the three teams that we play,” Kayla said. “Everybody’s pretty excited and pretty motivated to go down there and do well this year.”

“Kayla looks to make a splash in her last year,” Lyndsay said. “I know she wants to play until the bitter end and until she can absolutely not play any longer. She’s just playing as hard as she can until she’s not allowed to anymore. It’s the same thing with the rest of our team. We’re all hungry, just to keep going and keep pushing and go farther than what we’ve done before.”

While this season will likely mark the end of the sisters’ playing days together, it likely won’t be the end of softball for the Merrills. They’ve teamed up with their father to coach their sister’s travel team. Coaching is something they both hope to do in the future — as long as they can get along.

“We actually get into more arguments when we’re coaching than when we’re playing together,” Kayla said. “Lyndsay usually coaches third base and I’m at first base. She sends runners that I don’t think she should send, and I’ll send runners I don’t think she should send. We’ll have arguments across the field sometimes.”

A third sister, Lauren, is a promising player at Oxford Hills Middle School, and her older sisters are looking forward to continuing to work with her.

“She has the benefit of two coaches that played college softball,” Lyndsay said. “Kayla and I and my dad, we all hope that she can go higher than Kayla or I did. At her age, she’s exceptional, and we just hope that she can go beyond what we did because we all want better for her than what we’ve done.”

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