Monday was the first day for high school softball pitchers and catchers to start practicing in Maine. So naturally it snowed, forcing anyone with hopes of making the first tosses outside to hold those thoughts and settle down in the gym.

“It’s certainly ironic,” Edward Little senior pitcher Sarah Hammond said of the ill-timed snow. “It’s like we were ready to go, and then Mother Nature doesn’t want that to happen. But it’ll be gone soon.”

When the snow does finally melt, followed by the ground drying up enough to be played on, the work that pitchers and catchers began doing Monday can be put to use on the diamond.

For Hammond and her Red Eddies team, that means trying to get back to the regional semifinals — or farther.

“Their expectations are pretty high,” EL coach Elaine Derosby said. “They do know that they are going to have to work, that nothing is going to be easy.”

The Red Eddies have Hammond at the head of the pitching staff, with classmate Karli Stubbs behind the plate as an experienced catcher. The battery extends beyond the two seniors. Dersoby has pitchers Kylie Bureau and Olivia Jensen and catcher Emmy Lashua to mix-and-match with Hammond and Stubbs.

“They all get along,” Derosby said.

One change from years past is the amount of players teams can include in pitchers-and-catchers’ practice. That number used to be capped at 10 but now is limitless. EL had 18 players in the gym on Monday.

“This year, opening it up to more people now allows me to get some freshmen and sophomores in here pitching,” Derosby said. “When it was limited to 10, I could only have really my varsity pitchers. Now I’m excited that I can start building for my other two levels earlier than tryouts week.”

Hammond said having extra people in the gym was a a little overwhelming, but it’s good to see the program growing.

The Red Eddies were going to be in the gym no matter what the weather outside was. Derosby said she likes the controlled environment of the gym, and plans on keeping her team in there for much of the first two weeks of practice. The team will spend a few days a week on the artificial turf at Ingersoll Arena to get the feel of playing on grass.

Across the bridge, Lewiston was hoping to get outside as soon as possible. Monday was supposed to be the day that the grounds crew was going start working on the field. New head coach Mike Child said the snow will push that back at least a week.

“Is it disappointing? Yes,” Child said. “I thought maybe tryouts (starting March 28) would be outside.

“I don’t like being in here. The gym is not a true place to get true hops, and you’ve got to use rubber balls, and you’ve got to use this (and) that.”

The snow may have put a damper on Child’s plans but not his excitement to get started working with his new team — even if it is only pitchers and catchers.

“I’ve been jumping out of my skin,” Child said. “Of course I haven’t seen all of them. Won’t see them ’til the 28th. But from what I can see on pitching, I’m not disappointed. Not at all.”

The Blue Devils, coming off a 1-15 season, are very young. Sophomores Meagan Gosselin (catcher) and Jordan Mynahan (pitcher) are veterans.

“It’s already been behind us. Our last game it was behind us,” Gosselin said of last season. “Coach Child, he seems really determined. Already the first day I know that he’s going to push us. We just have to be prepared for it.”

Child calls himself a discipline guy, stemming from his experience in the Marines. He also — along with the players — has set the bar high. Gosselin said that Child expects Lewiston to be a winning team.

“Everyone’s expecting us to lose, but he’s going to push us to win,” added Mynahan.

Monday was more about stretching out arms than coach and players getting closer. Child said the team-building will start next week when full-sqaud practices begin. Preseason games are scheduled to begin the following week.

“Today’s the first day,” Child said. “There’s still a lot of work to do.”

The Blue Devils and Red Eddies both begin their regular seasons on Wednesday, April 20.

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