HERMON, Maine — The 2008 softball season ended far too prematurely for the Hermon Hawks.
After earning the No. 1 seed in Eastern Maine Class B and home-field advantage in the postseason, the Hawks ran into a red-hot Medomak Valley of Waldoboro team in the quarterfinals en route to that school’s first regional title in over a decade.
But that only adds fuel to the Hawks’ fire, and coach Stephanie Biberstein’s club is being pegged by many as one of the favorites in the Class B ranks this spring.
“This group of girls has something to prove. They got knocked off last year in the quarterfinal round,” said Biberstein. “They believe in their abilities and their talent. They are focused and determined that this is going to be the year they show people what Hermon softball is all about.”
Biberstein is returning to the Hawks’ dugout this season after a two-year stint away from coaching.
She served as a volunteer assistant for coach Adam Leach over that span, and retook the post when Leach stepped down.
“My [second] son’s a little bit older, so I’m back coaching,” Biberstein said.
Biberstein welcomes back a solid nucleus of veterans and underclassmen from a squad that went 12-4 in the regular season in 2008.
That includes four-year starters Erin Arnold at first base, Lily Berry at shortstop and Jamie Beers at third base and junior Monica Gallant in the outfield.
The Hawks also field one of the region’s top pitchers in sophomore lefthander Debbie Colpitts, who pitched well last season when ace Ashley Kelley was recovering from knee surgery.
Colpitts, who features a fastball, changeup and dropball, will now be thrust into that role this season, one which she should do just fine in.
“I think she does well under pressure so we should go far,” Arnold said.
With a formidable blend of speed and power up and down the lineup — Beers is quick out of the leadoff spot while Gallant and Berry are tough power hitters — Hermon should be a balanced team offensively.
“I don’t think there’s going to be a player that won’t be able to score from second on a single,” said Berry. “I definitely think that we don’t have any lack of hitting on our team.”
With all that speed, expect Hermon to be aggressive on the basepaths.
“Our top five hitters are all pretty quick, it’s kind of a new look offensively,” Biberstein said. “We haven’t had this much speed since I’ve been here.”
As disappointing as last season’s finish was, that’s behind Beers and the rest of the team, and the Hawks are ready to open some new chapters and realize their potential.
“I think we definitely have the drive, we’re a young team and we’re very talented and we can go very far this year,” Beers said.
Along with Winslow and Medomak out of the KVAC, Biberstein sees Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln and possibly Bucksport as potential challengers.
John Bapst on a Crusade
The term “dynasty” is used in almost every sport, and there have been plenty of them to speak of in high school track and field.
The John Bapst girls of Bangor have certainly enjoyed one this decade, having won six of the last seven Class C state championships.
And with a talented corps of returnees, coach Bruce Pratt’s team will certainly be a threat again this year.
The Crusaders will be led by two of the state’s top distance runners in Kim Spencer and Maggie Bryan, who have potential to sweep their events against their Class C competitors this season.
Spencer, who was the runner-up in both the 1600 and 3200 in last year’s state meet, took the indoor track and field season off and participated in skiing while Bryan, the reigning state champion in the 800, had a fine indoor season.
Pratt will certainly need those two to rise to the forefront this spring, as the Crusaders won’t posses the depth they’ve had in the past.
“We may be [going] back toward that really good distance [team] when we had Evelyn Sharkey, Courtney Martin and Nicole Lavertu and all those girls that we had back when we were setting state records in the 4×800 and stuff,” Pratt said.
Other keys to the distance team will be Mary Carmack and Laura Donovan.
Bapst also has one of the state’s top throwers in Danielle LeClair, last year’s state runner-up in the shot put, and two top hurdlers in Amy Haskell and Kris Gerow.
Pratt sees the Orono girls as the early favorite in the PVC.
“I think Orono’s going to be really good, they have a lot of [talented] pole vaulters, a solid corps of good kids,” he said.
The Crusaders open their season Friday afternoon in a PVC meet at Hampden Academy.