Lewiston shortstop Gemma Landry prepares to receive a throw as she covers third on an Oxford Hills bunt during a game this season. Brewster Burns photo

Gemma Landry struck out last spring, just like every high school spring athlete did when the season was canceled.

This year, batting out of the No. 3 spot in the Lewiston softball team’s lineup, Landry didn’t strike out once.

In fact, the senior shortstop ended up leading the Blue Devils in every offensive category.

“I think that’s truly remarkable and proves how valuable she was to our offense,” Cormier said, adding that Landry is “one of the hardest players to get out up at the plate.”

Opposing pitchers got Landry out less than half the time. She batted .516 with an .823 slugging percentage and racked up 35 hits, 29 RBIs, 27 runs and 11 stolen bases. In the field, she had a .986 fielding percentage while flashing great range.

The combination of that production at the plate, stout defense at a key spot on the diamond and leadership is the reason Landry has been selected as the 2021 Sun Journal’s All-Region Softball Player of the Year.

“I really wanted to use this season to remember everything I love about the sport, and I can say I did just that,” Landry said. “I got to watch my team grow and improve around me, I got to make and see others make some amazing plays and diving catches, and I even got to share some special moments and memories with coaches and players that I have known throughout the years.

“I can say that this season has meant a lot to me and I don’t wish that it went any other way.”

Cormier said he started coaching Landry 10 years ago, and has been part of her softball journey ever since, something he considers a privilege. He said she’s the type of athlete that can play and excel in any sport — which she has proven by being a varsity starter in soccer, hockey and softball every season that she played during her high school career — but she’s not one to just rely on that natural talent.

“She doesn’t strive to be the best player out on the field for herself, Gemma works hard always to be ready and be the best that she can be for her teammates and the team,” Cormier said. “Gemma always has a team-first mentality, and no one will outwork her (in her effort) to help make sure that the team succeeds. This and other many qualities that Gemma brings to the field every day is why she is so successful with anything that she does.”

Leading by example was the biggest expectation Cormier had for Landry this season, along with encouraging and mentoring the Blue Devils’ younger players.

Landry said more important than her individual stats, which she was proud of, was how close she got with the team, creating friendships that will last even as she heads off to Mitchell College in New London, Connecticut, to play soccer.

Many of her teammates this season were new to Landry, after some former teammates graduated in 2019 and then the 2020 season was buried by the COVID-19 pandemic. Coming into 2021, she wasn’t sure what to expect out of the team. The start of the season was rocky, she said, but the team steadily improved, helped in part by her and the other seniors grasping the impending finality of their high school careers.

“It came to our realization that this was our last season, we didn’t get all four of our high school seasons, and we never will, so let’s make this one count,” Landry said. “With this attitude, it carried onto the rest of our team, which influenced them to play hard for us.”

Cormier said Landry showed that kind of determination, even in practice.

In games, she showed the way as well. Cormier recalls Landry running into the outfield to catch A fly ball near the third-base line that could have scored two runs if it landed fair. Landry said one of her personal highlights was an out-of-the-park home run against the Vikings.

She also fondly remembers the extra-innings victory against Edward Little in the final rivalry game of her career.

Her final home game at Lewiston was a playoff victory against Mt. Ararat, a feat Landry said she was proud to help the Blue Devils accomplish.

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