The Bates College softball team had a nice time in Florida last week, going 9-3 during a six-days-in-12-days stretch.

It was great, coach McKell Barnes said, but dominance in the Sunshine State isn’t the goal for the 2018 Bobcats. They want to peak when the NESCAC season rolls around.

“What we did down in Florida, that’s all well and good, but we now have a job to do back here,” Barnes said.

The Bobcats are off to the program’s best start since 1994, and their nine wins are one shy of their total in 2017.

Barnes said the team worked hard in the offseason in captains’ practices and the strength and conditioning program, and it showed, but they also only had one practice on a softball field prior to playing a grueling slate in Florida.

“I was really pleased with our mental preparation,” Barnes said. “Twelve games in six days is a lot, and only practicing on a real softball field one time going into that trip can be challenging, so I was really proud of how the team came together and really understood that we’re going do to play the best softball that we can given the short amount of time that we’ve been able to be together.”

Barnes said the team tries to “move the meter” by improving each year, and part of that is increasingly better recruiting classes. This year’s Bobcats are a young squad, with only two juniors and two seniors among the 14 players on the roster.

“I was really pleased with how … our returners kind of set the standard, set the tone, but then how our first-years really bought into that,” Barnes said. “So having that combination was really, really powerful.”

Highlighting the 10 underclassmen is pitcher Kirsten Pelletier, who started the season with a no-hitter against North Central University the first day in Florida, and came back to Lewiston with a 0.99 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 42.1 innings.

“That’s insane. That’s tremendous,” Barnes said. “But that’s what we expect of her.”

Opening the season with a no-hitter can be daunting, because, how do you match that? Barnes said that she joked with Pelletier after the no-hitter that she needs her to pitch like that every game.

Pelletier wasn’t too overwhelmed trying to match it, though. The next day, against Penn State Brandywine, she allowed just two hits and struck out eight in a complete-game shutout.

“She looks at it like my best is going to beat your best,” Barnes said. “So when she took the ball that second game, it wasn’t so much I need to throw a no-hitter … but she wants to perform her best so that it puts us in the best chance to win the game.”

Barnes doesn’t want to put too much emphasis the fast start in Florida, but she doesn’t want to downplay it, either. The Bobcats returned from Florida with a list of things they need to improve. They also returned feeling proud. And hungry.

“We just want to play again,” Barnes said.

Next on Bates’ schedule is a home doubleheader against the University of Southern Maine on March 28, but that could be derailed by the weather. The Bobcats’ first scheduled NESCAC contests are a three-game set at Trinity March 30-31.

Lacrosse thriller

The Bates men’s lacrosse team came up clutch in a 14-13 double-overtime win over Western New England on Wednesday in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Max Breschi tied the game for the Bobcats with 43 second remaining in regulation. Then, in the second overtime, Curtis Knapton scored the game-winner after a pass by Matt Chlastawa.

Breschi scored four goals for Bates (2-3), while Knapton and Clarke Jones each had three.

Bates last overtime game was April 19, 2016. The program has won seven straight overtime contests.

The Bobcats host Trinity Saturday at 1 p.m. at Garcelon Field.

Silverman up for national award

Bates senior Maisie Silverman has been selected as one of four finalists for the inaugural Ann Lebedeff Leadership award.

The award was created by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association and endowed by Billie Jean King. Later this spring, it will honor a recent college graduate who played college tennis, demonstrated leadership and excellence on and off the court. The winner, as well as the nominees, have demonstrated grit, a commitment to social justice and equality, and have pushed others to be leaders.

Silverman, of Brunswick, is the lone Mainer and lone senior on the Bates women’s tennis team, and is the team’s captain. She has played No. 1 singles the past three seasons, and No. 1 or 2 doubles throughout her career.

Silverman also has initiated programs to introduce tennis to children in local elementary schools, serves on the Bates Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and volunteers for the Special Olympics.

The other finalists are Nithya Kanagasegar (Case Western Reserve), Jake McCartney (Barton College) and David Warren (Rice).

The ITA Ann Lebedeff Leadership Award winner will receive an engraved gift and post-graduate scholarship. The ITA also will donate $1,000 to the winner’s college tennis program.


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