Buckfield’s Abby Fogg dives back to first base before Rangeley’s Amber Morrill can put the tag on her during a game in Buckfield last season.

Richmond players have come, and Richmond players have gone.

For eight seasons that hasn’t mattered for the Bobcats, who have won regional softball championships each of those years.

Yet maybe this is the year someone else in Class D South gets a turn. Buckfield coach Sandy Albert sure hopes so.

“It will be us and Richmond in the hunt,” Albert said.

Albert noted that the Bobcats lost a big crop of players, including pitcher Meranda Martin. They still have slugging catcher Sydney Underhill-Tilton, as well as the experience in the program of playing in the state final every year.

What the Bucks bring to this season is a “core pitcher/catcher combo,” according to Albert, in junior pitcher Julia Dow and junior catcher Hannah Shields. Buckfield was without Dow in the circle at the end of last season after she broke her hand. This year the Bucks replace four departed seniors with what Albert called “a very talented freshmen class” that played on a very successful middle school team.

A darkhorse in D South, according to Albert, could be Greenville. And it’s not that the Lakers aren’t expected to be good in their own right, but they don’t face the likes of Buckfield and Richmond during the regular season, so Albert doesn’t know what to expect from them. She does know that her team’s season came to an end at the hands of Greenville in last year’s regional semifinals.

The same goes for Searsport, which only plays Greenville among D South teams. The Bucks beat the Vikings in last year’s quarterfinals.

Rangeley was left on the outside looking last year, the first team out of the playoffs despite a .500 record. Head coach Chip Smith said he has a young team that will have to grow during the season to get back to the postseason. The Lakers will lean on two seniors pitchers in Sydney Royce and Natasha Haley. The growth of the team as a whole might depend on when the Lakers can get outside to their field.

The Lakers’ season, like last year, is slated to start on the road at Richmond, which will be looking to start a new winning streak after its 88-game run ended in last year’s state final loss.

Albert is entering the season with the thought that her team is the one to beat. The Bucks went 14-2 during the regular season last year, with the only two losses to Richmond. They’ve now added five Class C teams to the schedule with the hope that it will make them even more ready for success in the playoffs.

But it likely will come down to how Buckfield plays against the Bobcats. Those losses last year made a difference in playoff seeding, and the Bucks had to go on the road for the semifinals. They’d rather host those playoff games this year, and only have to go on the road for a regional (and hopefully state) final.


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