Things couldn’t have gone much better for Amanda Davey this early season.
The fourth-year head coach of Husson University’s softball team returned all nine starters from a North Atlantic Conference title team that went 26-16, lost none of her 14 players over the offseason, and only had six new names to learn.
Even the weather has been better than ever before.
“Yeah, it’s been amazing,” Davey said. “We’ve been outside 12 times in Maine so far. We’re lucky if we get three or four days outside before we go south and even then, it’s freezing and we’re all bundled up.”
Not that everything is perfect. Davey’s not happy with her team’s season-opening 1-5 record in Florida.
“We’re hitting the ball, but we’re not scoring the runs,” she said. “We’re not moving people around and getting timely hits.
“We’re still figuring out the lineup with the batting order, who’s best leading off or hitting in the middle of the order, and so on.”
The batting order may still be in flux, but there isn’t a lot of uncertainty regarding the Eagles’ defensive lineup.
Every position but one is pretty well set. That one is right field, where sophomore Brianna Webster of Belfast, junior Caitlin LeBorgne of Scarborough and junior Nicole Sargent of Sullivan are battling for playing time.
“They’re all pretty close defensively, so what I’m looking for there is someone who’s also going to produce offense at that position,” Davey said.
Davey, who says she loses an average of five players per offseason, has an almost overwhelming supply of talent and unprecedented depth with everyone back and six recruits.
“Man, oh yeah. I’ve never had the advantage of having this much depth, as well as the speed we have on the bench,” she explained. “I’ve never made so many moves this early.
“More people have seen the field already this season because we have that luxury. I want to use every asset we have and take advantage of everyone we have.”
Outfielder Dottie Cameron led the Eagles with a .410 batting average last season. Captain, second baseman, four-year starter and lone senior Cassie Berry of Newcastle had a team-high 32 RBIs, catcher Sarah Risser of Brewer led the team with 13 stolen bases and Sargent had a team-high seven home runs.
Risser will platoon at catcher with fellow sophomore Kristen Sousa of Detroit.
The rest of the infield has junior Megan Richard of Wilton at first, Berry at second, junior captain Diann Ramsey of Otisfield at shortstop, and freshman Aimee Mortensen of Biddeford at third.
In the outfield, Cameron is back in left and junior Megan Bradstreet of Warren is in center.
“Our defense is excelling. We’ve been more solid defensively this early than we ever have,” Davey said. “Mortensen gets everything down there. There have been a lot of balls hit to the outfield so far and they’ve done a great job.”
Pitching-wise, Davey’s excited about the talent and ability the Eagles have in the circle with Sargent and freshmen Kody Lyon and Kara Poirier.
“We have a lot of depth and added two freshmen to the staff. Lyon right now, at this point in time, is our go-to girl. She throws hard and she has a lot of movement with a couple pitches she has,” she said. “She has great control of her pitches and pitches to the hitters to get them to ground out or pop up.”
Richard was a known commodity after going 6-4 with a 4.81 ERA last season.
“Our situational pitcher is Kara Poirier,” Davey said. “She’s gone in for a lot of tough situations and jams and done well.”
Davey says the team’s overall depth helps offset any injury, overuse, or slump-related issues.
“I think the difference this year is when people go into slumps, we’ll have people to pick them up. Or if someone has an injury, we have someone to put in for them,” she said. “And we can keep our starters fresh and rested.”