At the beginning of the spring, qualifying for the postseason for the first time in more than a decade was a legitimate goal for the Camden Hills softball team.
The Windjammers from Rockport are not only proving that they are a playoff team, but a potential championship contender, and victories over Medomak Valley of Waldoboro and Maranacook of Readfield on Saturday reinforced that status.
But all the more impressive is that coach Marty Messer’s club played Medomak in Rockland on Saturday morning in one makeup game and hopped on a bus to Readfield for another.
“We went from eighth to fourth in one day,” said Messer, whose team endured a 13-hour day of softball and travel. “We might as well go out and try to win and not complain about the weather and the travel.”
But 13 hours of traveling and playing is nothing compared to the 13-year postseason drought Camden Hills has experienced, and with the doubleheader sweep over the weekend, the ‘Jammers’ first goal has been accomplished.
“We have a goal to go far in the playoffs too,” Messer said. “If we keep playing like this, we could reach that.”
Camden Hills has been one of the hotter teams in Class B, riding a five-game win streak heading into Monday’s home contest with Winslow.
The Windjammers didn’t even win that many games in the entire 2010 season.
“We really thought we were going to go far last year and it didn’t work out,” Messer said. “We were right in every game, playing some of the best teams and losing by one or two. This year, we’re capitalizing on other team’s mistakes.”
It also helps that Messer has outstanding senior leadership in pitcher Hayley Buckheit, catcher Olivia Hamalainen and infielder Morgan Farley.
Buckheit has enjoyed a strong senior campaign in the circle, and while she’s not overpowering, she hits her spots well.
“She’s very accurate and she can go inside, outside, up and down,” Messer said. “I think that’s one of her strengths, changing speeds and putting the ball where she wants to.”
The ‘Jammers have a great chance to move even farther up the Heal points this week with pointworthy contests against Lincoln Academy of Newcastle and Belfast on the horizon.
Messer feels that if his club can take care of business, the ‘Jammers have a great chance of possibly sneaking into the top two.
“We only have seven more days of our regular season,” said Messer. “Hopefully we go into the playoffs riding this wave.”
Key games this week
While the forecast doesn’t look too promising for the rest of the week, a number of high school softball teams face some critical games.
Brewer, the lone undefeated team in Eastern Maine Class A, faced three road games in three days, at Skowhegan on Monday, Mt. Blue of Farmington on Tuesday and Lawrence of Fairfield on Wednesday.
Tuesday’s contest at Mt. Blue is a makeup game from last Friday, and when coach Skip Estes’ club returns home at the end of the week, a Senior Night showdown with third-place Messalonskee of Oakland awaits.
Brewer won the first matchup between the teams, 4-1 count on May 4.
Bangor, which lost a pair of tough games at home to Brewer and Skowhegan last week, will be looking to rebound in its final two regular-season home games, including a pointworthy matchup with Messalonskee on Wednesday.
The first contest between them was a 10-8 slugfest, and a win in this game could help coach Don Stanhope’s club secure a home playoff game in the quarterfinals.
There is still plenty to be settled in Class B as well, with six teams — Bucksport, Hermon, Medomak Valley of Waldoboro, Camden Hills, Old Town and Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln all with a legitimate chance to grab the No. 1 seed.
Bucksport holds that spot right now with Hermon, Medomak and Camden Hills close behind, and coach Mike Carrier’s club is riding a seven-game winning streak heading into Tuesday’s road contest with John Bapst of Bangor.
The Golden Bucks still have two games remaining with Old Town, including their regular-season finale on May 31.
There is also a logjam atop the Class D rankings, with Limestone/Maine School of Science and Mathematics, defending regional champion Deer Isle-Stonington and Central Aroostook of Mars Hill all battling for the No. 1 seed.
The Mariners will have a good chance to gain some valuable points this week, starting with Tuesday’s home contest against Class C Lee Academy with road tests at Bangor Christian on Thursday and a Saturday doubleheader at Jonesport-Beals to follow.
Coach Terry Siebert’s club had won six straight entering Monday’s play, with the only loss a 2-1 defeat at Lee on May 4.