June 18, 2018
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High school softball teams deal with sloppy spring; Medomak posts 9-0 mark

By Ryan McLaughlin, BDN Staff

The timing of this week’s dreary weather is certainly coming at a difficult time as high school softball teams scramble for makeup dates with just a few weeks remaining in the regular season.

And with the forecast not expected to improve until the end of the week, teams are dealing with the frustrating conditions by simply plugging away.

“We try to keep things light inside, focus on hitting, fielding’s kind of tough in the gym,” said Medomak Valley head coach Richard Vannah. “They scrimmage amongst each other, so they’re not bored and yawning.”

While the Panthers from Waldoboro are sporting a lofty 9-0 record and the top spot in Eastern Maine Class B, they are eager to get back to playing games, particularly in a time of year that can be tough mentally on a high school athlete.

“Dealing with everything in the spring sports season is always stressful between prom and graduation,” said Vannah, whose daughter, Kayla, pitched for Medomak and led the Panthers to consecutive regional titles in 2008-09.

The rain has wreaked havoc on Medomak’s schedule as the Panthers will attempt to make up Monday’s washed-out battle with Camden Hills of Rockport on Thursday, prior to games against Rockland on Friday and Winslow on Saturday.

If the conditions don’t allow for that to happen, Vannah said his club may have to play both Camden Hills and Winslow in a Saturday doubleheader, but fortunately, both are home contests.

“It’ll be interesting to see what comes out of this mess,” Vannah said.

All that aside, Medomak has burst out of the gate, thanks to a potent offensive attack and the pitching of sophomore Desiree Benner.

“She’s growing with every game, trying not to put as much pressure on herself,” Vannah said.

The Panthers feature a battle-tested cast, as all but one of Vannah’s players were part of the school’s basketball team which played in the Eastern Maine final this winter.

Medomak’s senior class includes Ericka Christensen, Lindsay Ranquist, Kasey Benner and Vanessa Davis, all of whom sport robust batting averages.

“My seniors are leading me pretty hard, they’re all batting over .400,” Vannah said. “We’ve still got seven games left so I expect most of them to finish close to where they are.”

A high postseason seeding will be something new to this group of Panthers, as they entered the playoffs as the No. 8 seed en route to their consecutive regional championships.

“Our first goal is to win the first playoff game like we didn’t do last year,” said Vannah, speaking of last spring’s quarterfinal loss to Old Town.

IN THE CLASS A RANKS, a pointworthy matchup between rivals Bangor and Brewer has already been rained out twice, along with Western Maine rivals South Portland and Scarborough.

The top-ranked Witches and fifth-seeded Rams will hope the third time is the charm on Thursday, and both teams will be in a bit of a crunch of games over the next week.

Coach Skip Estes’ club will play five road games in a week, starting with Wednesday’s crossover matchup at Erskine Academy of South China, and the slate also includes games at Mt. Blue of Farmington on Friday, Skowhegan on Monday and Lawrence of Fairfield on May 25.

“They’ll be ready. They want to play pretty bad,” said Estes. “We’ve been mixing up practices, just getting ready.”

Estes is hoping things will clear up to some degree Wednesday so his Witches can take on Erskine, which would mark Brewer’s first game since knocking off Hampden Academy on Friday.

“I would rather play than go inside and practice another day,” he said.

As for Bangor, the Rams will also play five games in seven days, starting Wednesday against Hampden Academy, but coach Don Stanhope’s club has a chance to make a jump in the Heal points with home contests against Brewer (Thursday), Skowhegan (Friday) and Messalonskee of Oakland (May 25) on the horizon.

The Rams have been on fire as of late, winning five of six since an April 22 loss to Brewer while averaging 8.5 runs per game.

“I expect Bangor to keep moving up in the standings, I really do,” Estes said. “Bangor gave us our toughest game so far this year. They’re a very seasoned team, The defense is very good and they can hit.”

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