Dragons return veteran nucleus

Posted June 23, 2009, at 12:24 a.m.

Even though it is moving up to the Class C ranks next season, the Woodland softball team shouldn’t have any trouble staying near the top of that heap.

The Dragons, who won the school’s first Class D state championship Saturday by defeating Buckfield 8-2 in Standish, graduate only one senior in catcher Julia Nicholas.

Coach Rick Pullen has a healthy nucleus of juniors and sophomores returning next season, including junior pitcher Shelby Bassett, who took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and recorded 10 strikeouts against Buckfield.

Other key returnees include juniors Ashley Laking and Ariel Knights, freshman Taylor Cochran and sophomore Molly White.

Not bad for a team that doesn’t have a feeder system.

“I’ve got to get athletes and teach them first,” said Pullen.

However, the Little League program in Calais is letting players from Baileyville participate, which will be key in the development of future talent.

“It’s starting to happen now,” Pullen said.

The program has made a lot of strides under his direction, along with having an ace pitcher in Bassett, who overcame a leg injury in the middle part of the season.

“The first year I had some athletes and we went 11-5 after they hadn’t won a game in two years,” said Pullen.

Leonardi garners award

The awards just keep on coming for Kennebunk High freshman Abbey Leonardi.

Leonardi, who has dazzled Maine running fans throughout the school year with her powerful stride, has been named the state’s Gatorade Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year.

Leonardi also earned the honor after a stellar cross country campaign for the Rams.

The award recognizes not only athletic excellence but academic achievement and character showcased on and off the track. Leonardi has not only maintained an A average in the classroom, but participated in fundraising to benefit displaced civilians in Sudan’s western region of Darfur.

Leonardi won both races she entered at the Class A state championship meet, and set one state record. She blitzed the field in the 1,600 en route to a record time of 4 minutes, 56.64 seconds while also winning the 800 in 2:16.92.

She also recorded the state’s top 3,200-meter time this spring, clocking a 10:53.93 at the Southern Maine Activities Association’s York County championship meet.

Leonardi took third in the 1,600 at the New England Championships in 4:54.14 and she capped her season by placing 14th in the mile (5:00.09) at the Nike Outdoor Nationals in North Carolina last weekend.

Recent track and field award winners include Greely’s Becky O’Brien, now at the University of North Carolina, in 2006 and 2008 and York’s Chelsey Tewell in 2007.

All-star games set Thursday

The rain that has swamped the state over the last few days hopefully won’t stop the state’s top senior softball players from playing together one last time.

The annual Maine Senior All-Star Softball Games will commence Thursday evening at Cony High School in Augusta, starting with the Class C-D game at 5:30 and the A-B contest at 7:30.

Miss Maine Softball and regional player of the year awards will be distributed in between the games.

Should it rain Thursday, the games will not be made up, according to Maine Softball Coaches Association president David Billings.

He also said the games will not be relocated to a different site. Even though the recent rains have soaked Cony’s field, the staff at the school should have it ready for Thursday, as nice weather is forecast for that day.

rmclaughlin@bangordailynews.net

990-8193

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