TURNER — Forgive Kevin Leonard if he seems especially bullish about the Leavitt softball team’s pitching this season.

It has been, he said, several years since the Hornets’ pitching staff has been this talented.

“And it happened overnight last year,” Leonard said.

In 2022, the Hornets alternated wins and losses for the first eight games of the season. Then they took off winning eight of their final 10 games, which included handing eventual state champion Gardiner its first loss of the season.

The hitting was so productive and powerful during that stretch that it overshadowed Leavitt’s standout pitching, which was led by newcomers Abby Albert and Hailey Turcotte. Both pitchers return this year, as does last season’s third pitcher, Maddie Dutil.

Albert transferred to Leavitt last year and Turcotte was a freshman. Leonard didn’t know what to expect from the new pitchers.


But once he saw them throw: “Holy smokes, we’ve got two people that can (pitch),” he recalls thinking.

“And then Maddie Dutil, she’s another one,” he adds. “Sometimes Maddie throws harder than the other two. So it just keeps going and going.”

Albert, now a junior, is the team’s ace. In her first year at Leavitt after transferring from Buckfield, she pitched 71 innings, struck out 69 batters and finished with a 1.45 ERA. Turcotte, who also plays second base, fanned 21 in 25 innings and recorded a 2.52 ERA. Dutil, a junior outfielder, struck out four and allowed only one hit in four innings in 2022.

“Abby’s strength is definitely her fastball,” Hornets catcher Emily Poland said. “She has a nice, like, really hard fastball. If she’s on, she’s throwing, like, definitely high-50s and just hitting her spots.

“And then Hailey, she’s good with, like, the movement — both Haileys, actually, are really good with their movements and their different pitches. And they both still have a really fast ball, but they have a killer changeup, drop ball, rise and all that.”

Hailey Cyr, a freshman, is another pitcher that Leavitt can use when needed.


“All of our pitchers are like really, really solid. We throw like 55 to like 60 miles per hour, all of us,” Turcotte said.

Albert — whose mom, Sandy, is a Leavitt assistant and former Buckfield head coach — and Turcotte both said that their confidence is bolstered by the defense behind them and, especially, from having Poland behind the plate.

“She helps me as a pitcher because I know that I can trust her behind the plate,” Albert said. “And if I make a bad pitch, I know that she’ll catch it; and if I make a bad pitch or a passed ball, I know that she’ll get it. She just makes me feel really confident.”


The Hornets finished 2022 with a 12-6 record, a seven-win improvement over 2021. They earned the fourth seed in Class B South and reached the regional quarterfinals.

They lost only two players from last year’s team. So not only is their entire pitching staff returning, so are their top hitters, who tallied eight home runs, seven triples and 15 doubles in 2022.


Third baseman Sam Withee led the team in hits (17) and batting average (.354). First baseman Sam DeBlois tied for second in hits (16) and had a team-best on-base percentage (.456). Five players hit homers last season, led by shortstop Nola Boutaugh’s three and Turcotte’s two. Albert led the team with five doubles and 14 RBIs. Speedster Lily Chabot tied with DeBlois and Boutaugh for second on the team with 16 hits, including two triples.

“Our hitting is great,” Turcotte said. “Like, all through our lineup is just solid hitters, no matter what.”

The strong finish to 2022 and the returning talent made the Hornets, Leonard said, eager for this season to start.

The players don’t anticipate needing eight games to find their rhythm, as they did last year. They attribute the hot finish to becoming closer as a team and learning to play together.

They now have had a season of experience alongside each other, and most of the Hornets have been playing softball year-round with travel teams.

So Leavitt should be a major contender in B South this season. And they hope to be, but they also want to recapture the energy of last year’s team, when things like dancing in the dugout made playing together fun, which turned into energy that led to confidence and success.

“I know most people would probably say, like, try to get as far as you can,” Poland said of the Hornets’ goal for this season. “But, especially last year, we experienced just having fun. I expect just a lot of fun and energy out of this team. But, obviously, you always want to make it to states, that’s always the dream. But I just expect a lot of fun from this team.”

She later added, “Be ready for a lot of dancing.”

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