Maine has always produced top-of-the-line softball players, and local teams have traditionally fared well in summer tournaments.
That was the case last weekend, as the Maine Tidal Wave, a new ASA 18-under club consisting of players from throughout the region, won its first tournament of the summer, the MVP Tournament in Manchester, N.H.
The Tidal Wave, coached by University of Maine hitting coach Terry Hall and daughter Terren, an infielder for the Black Bears, compiled an impressive 5-1 record against competition from New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut.
The roster is composed of high school standouts Tayla Trask of Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln, Mel Judkins and Amanda Ryan of Brewer, Autumn Slike and Samantha Moore of Nokomis of Newport, Amy Singer and Hannah Morin of Old Town, Lona Sargent of Sumner of East Sullivan, Belfast’s Victoria Overlock, Debbie Colpitts of Hermon, Alex Rudzinski of Central in Corinth, along with former Ellsworth player Tasha Manning, who played at the University of Vermont last spring, and Hampden Academy graduate Ashley Gott, who is attending the University of New England.
Even though this is a first-year team, chemistry wasn’t an issue as many of the players on the Wave’s roster are familiar with each other.
“They get along real good, they all support each other. That’s what makes a winner,” Terry Hall said.
Jim Trask and Nick Colpitts, fathers of Tayla and Debbie, respectively, brainstormed the idea to form the team, along with former Thomas College coach Paul Rodrigue, who coached at Mt. Blue of Farmington last spring.
Rodrigue wound up selecting the roster, but when his work schedule changed, forcing him to work on weekends, he asked Terry Hall, who has been coaching tournament ball since 1972, to step in, while Terren had already planned on helping out.
Terry Hall also served as an assistant coach at Bucksport for three seasons, including the 2006 Class B state championship team, while his daughter was on the team.
The Wave got off to a strong start in the tourney, defeating the New Hampshire Comets 7-0 in its opening game Saturday before suffering a tough 3-2 setback to the Massachusetts Hurricanes in their second contest.
But knowing they had solid pitching depth, the Wave did not panic.
“We talked about this since day one of practice, we know the pitching is going to be good enough to keep us in every single game,” said Hall, who added that errors victimized his club in the loss to Massachusetts.
But the Wave came back valiantly, knocking off the New York Slik Chix 4-1 and the Connecticut Mirage 2-1 in their next two contests, also Saturday.
Then on Sunday came a rematch with the Massachusetts team, and the Wave made the most of their opportunity, coming away with a 6-2 victory before knocking off the New Hampshire Hammerheads 5-2 to annex the championship.
Hall said the team’s depth really pulled through in the final game.
“We had some really good timely bunting, timely hits, stellar defensive plays,” he said. “[A] team effort, that’s how we like to put it.”
Passion for the game and willingness to improve certainly helps, too.
“That’s what they do this for. It’s a big demand in an athlete to do this in the summertime,” Hall said. “To give up summer to travel and play ball, you have to have that passion.”
No matter who is in the circle, Hall has a great deal of confidence in his pitching staff.
“That’s the way I feel about the pitching staff; if we get a one-run lead, I’m good. I’ve got that much confidence in the pitching staff,” he said.
While a number of Wave players will be returning to their respective high school teams in the fall, Nokomis graduate Moore will play for Thomas College next season while Sumner’s Sargent is heading to Husson University.
If there was any doubt Maine is a quality state when it comes to softball, there certainly isn’t anymore.
“Maine players can play with anybody,” Hall said.
As far as travel expenses are concerned, the families of the players chip in for things like meals, gasoline and hotels, the latter of which was paid for in April, when the tournament schedule was released.
This is only the beginning for the Wave, as they’ll head to Massachusetts this weekend for another tourney and New Hampshire the following weekend.
The team will have a pair of tournaments in Maine at the end of this month, one in Lewiston and another in Brewer July 29-Aug. 1.