Sam Bedore had a rude awakening to college softball.
In her first outing, the former Bangor High School ace found herself taking the mound for her University of Rhode Island team against the nation’s 17th-ranked team, the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.
She allowed nine earned runs in 2 1/3 innings and lost a five-inning 14-0 decision.
But Bedore, who has been pitching with a back ailment she said she incurred lifting weights in November, has been resilient and has won her last two starts including a complete-game gem in her last outing, a 4-1 victory over George Washington University last week.
Bedore took a no-hitter into the sixth as URI won its first Atlantic-10 game of the season. She finished with a four-hitter.
Bedore’s last two victories are the youthful Rams’ only wins over the past 11 games. Rhode Island is 5-41 overall entering a doubleheader against LaSalle on Friday.
They have six games left including home doubleheaders against 2010 NCAA Tournament teams UMass and Fordham.
Bedore leads the team in wins with three (3-10). She has made 19 appearances, including 14 starts, and has a 7.64 earned run average. She has stuck out 41 and walked 73 in 58 2/3 innings.
“The walks are misleading,” explained URI coach Erin Layton. “We often pitch around the other team’s top hitters. It’s not that we give them intentional walks. But we try to get them to chase the ball out of the strike zone.”
Layton added that she was “very pleased” with Bedore’s progress this season.
“She has handled everything with great poise,” said Layton. “Her velocity has been good. I appreciate what she has brought to our team. And she has had a very young defense behind her.”
There are 10 freshmen on the roster and four have been starting regularly.
“It has definitely been a big adjustment. It has been a learning experience. It has been a little tougher than I had thought,” said Bedore, who was named the 2010 Maine Gatorade Player of the Year and MIss Maine Softball after going 18-2 with an 0.60 ERA and 230 strikeouts in 128 innings last season.
Bedore said the caliber of hitters is much different from high school.
“They’re all big and strong,” said Bedore. “They were the number three and four hitters on their previous teams. They can all hit.”
She has observed that “I’ll have to use my off-speed pitches more. I have to develop my changeup and spin pitches. I’ve got to work in and out with my screwball and curveball.”
Bedore features a rise, curve, changeup and screwball.
“I need to perfect them a little more,” she added.
But Layton said Bedore “doesn’t have too much to work on” and that she will continue to improve as she gains experience.
Bedore said Louisiana-Lafayette was the best team she has ever faced.
“But I’m not disappointed at all. I can’t wait to start fresh next season,” she said.
Bedore has no regrets about her decision to attend URI.
“I love all the girls on the team and the school,” said Bedore. “We have a really young team. We’re getting there but it takes a lot of work. The chemistry is coming together. Everyone gets along so well and that’s huge because we’re with each other every single day.”
She said because there are so many freshmen on the team, “we all know what each other is going through.”
Layton said Bedore has a bright future and that she thoroughly enjoys coaching her.
“Sam’s a great person she has a great work ethic. All of our kids do. They’re like sponges trying to soak up as much as they can,” said Layton. “They’re all going to be better next year.”