Leavitt coach Fred Apt holds baserunner Leah Maheux up at third base as the ball comes in from the outfield to Paige O’Connell of Fryeburg Academy in Turner last Saturday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal File Photo)

Leavitt softball coach Kevin Leonard called it “frustrating” that his team’s schedule used to only include fellow Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference opponents.

The problem with for the Hornets in only playing KVAC teams is that many of those opponents end up in the opposite region come playoff time. Only Morse and Lincoln Academy join Leavitt in Class B South.

Leonard was finally able to get some Western Maine Conference teams on the schedule, with that conference making up the majority of B South. The Hornets have already faced both WMC teams on their schedule this season, losing to Cape Elizabeth 12-0 and Fryeburg Academy 8-5.

“I’m the one that whined the most about playing teams from the (Western Maine Conference). Now I got my wish,” Leonard said after the loss to Fryeburg. “But in the long run it’s going to benefit our club playing teams like this.”

Fryeburg coach Fred Apt agreed that playing an out-of-conference opponent was good for his team as well.

“We don’t get to play these guys until we’re in the tournament,” Apt said. “It’s fun. I mean, that’s a good team.”

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An added element

Many teams elected not to play in the rain last Friday. Rivals Greely and Gray-New Gloucester decided to test their luck with Mother Nature, and the two teams got their WMC Class B South game in, but not without dealing with periods of heavy rain.

Balls were changed out every few pitches, and quick-dry field conditioner was applied to various parts of the dirt infield on multiple occasions.

Patriots coach Amanda Harmon didn’t use the elements as an excuse for her team letting go of a lead and losing.

“The conditions are one thing, but you know both teams are playing in them,” Harmon said.

Rangers coach Rob Hale called the elements a third opponent in the game. He also said it added to the latest edition of the rivalry.

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“Greely-Gray, huge. Gray, I think, is a really good softball team, and we’re not sure what we are. So to get this win, huge. Battle them, battle the elements. And being down,” Hale said. “So we checked off some boxes today.”

Hungry for more

Winthrop’s softball program took a big leap last year, making it to the regional final for the first time in program history.

When the Ramblers got there, however, they were reminded of why Madison is perennially at the top of the Class C South mountain, winning 12-0.

When the two programs faced off again Wednesday it was the same result, but the score was much closer.

“I think a lot of people felt because we lost a player like Kayleigh Oberg, who was one of the top players in the MVC, that we might take a step backwards this year,” Ramblers coach Chuck Gurney said. “And I didn’t see that because we’ve got about six juniors that have started since they were freshmen, and they’re ready to get to that next level. It’s been a long process building it, but they’re ready. And for them today, moral victory I guess you could call it, but they now know they can play one of the top teams — or two of the top teams, between Madison and Oak Hill. We’re right there with both of them. A one-run game both games.”

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The loss to the Bulldogs dropped the Ramblers to 1-2 to start the season. But they’ve now played two of the tougher opponents on their schedule as close as possible without breaking through.

“I told them, I said ‘just keep battling, we’ll get over that hump,'” Gurney said. “Now they got a new saying. Today they left out of here saying they’re going to call themselves butter and get on a roll here.”

A Reilly big milestone

It’s been a trying start to the season for Traip Academy, but lone senior Reilly Eddy provided a bright spot for the Rangers on Monday in a doubleheader against Sacopee Valley.

In the second game of the twinbill Eddy recorded the 500th strikeout of her career. The Rangers lost both games, but Eddy got the 20 strikeouts she needed entering the day.

Eddy was 43 punchouts shy of the milestone before the season, and she started her march toward 500 with a 16-strikeouts effort against Buckfield in the season opener.

Gray-New Gloucester pitcher Alie Martell delivers in the rain during a loss to Greely in Gray last Friday. (Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal File Photo)

Leavitt coach Kevin Leonard holds baserunner Leah Maheux up at third base as the ball comes in from the outfield to Paige O’Connell of Fryeburg Academy in Turner last Saturday. (Sun Journal File Photo)

Madison’s Aishah Malloy is tagged out by Winthrop catcher Hanna Caprara during Wednesday afternoon’s game in Winthrop. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal File Photo)

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