The 2010 softball season represented a breakthrough of sorts for Deer Isle-Stonington as the Mariners not only won the first regional championship in program history, but the first in any girls varsity sport at the school since 1987.
As the regular season draws to a close, the Mariners are plotting a course toward that same territory, as coach Terry Siebert’s club boasted a 12-2 record heading into a Memorial Day matchup with Searsport.
While the bats have been stalwart in the Mariners’ strong spring, the defense and pitching of Sydney Outzs have been outstanding as well.
“We’ve had a few games where there’s an error here and there but for the most part we’re playing very good defensive ball,” Siebert said after his club dispatched Bangor Christian 10-0 on Thursday.
Should the Mariners win out — they take on neighboring rival George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill on Wednesday — they should clinch the top spot in Eastern Maine Class D as first-place Limestone was up by just over a point heading into Monday.
Limestone finishes its regular season against Madawska Tuesday.
Outzs, a junior who came to Deer Isle from Pittsburgh as a sophomore, has quickly realized that Eastern Maine hitters are adapting to her, and she can’t rely on just a fastball.
“I went through about 10 grips for my changeup and I finally found one that works good for me,” said Outzs, who worked hard on developing that pitch throughout the winter.
Outzs has a championship-tested cast behind her as the Mariners returned six starters from last year’s squad.
One of them, senior Abby Grindle, volunteered to catch during the preseason after that position was vacated due to a graduation loss, and she has handled it well.
“It’s my first year catching so its been tough, but we have a good pitcher, she’s easy to work with,” said Grindle.
Grindle had played second base before this season, but sophomore Julie Hutchins filled in that role.
Other key returnees include twins Holly and Heidi Brewer, Chelsea Brown and Janelle Ciomei.
Deer Isle-Stonington is averaging more than 15 runs per game, and features a balanced offense, as eight different Mariners recorded at least one hit on Thursday, while the fast pitching they see from teams like Bangor Christian, Lee Academy and George Stevens will prove beneficial come postseason time.
“Aroostook County teams, most of it’s pretty much slow pitching,” said Siebert. “Sometimes, we get to those other teams and they do that slow pitching and it kind of hurts us a little bit.”
But the deeper a team goes in the playoffs, the tougher the pitching gets, so no matter what the situation, the Mariners feel that they will be well-equipped.
“It’s good to see some faster pitching and some more aggressive bats and stuff like that,” said Grindle.
Bessette on track for Witches
Throughout his athletic career at Brewer High, Ray Bessette has been known as one of the state’s top basketball players, possessing quick moves to the basket and a deadly jump shot.
But he’s quickly finding out he has a niche for track and field, especially jumping long distances.
Bessette is in his first year competing in track for the Witches, and his efforts were instrumental in helping Brewer claim their first conference championship in more than a decade on Saturday.
“I think I help out scoring some points and what not,” the soft-spoken Bessette said after he won the triple jump, placed second in the long and high jumps and earned fifth in the 100 meters during the PVC Large School Championships..
Bessette hasn’t been doing the triple jump very long — only twice in fact — but looked like a seasoned veteran as he recorded a mark of 40 feet, 4.75 inches.
“I’m so glad Ray joined,” said classmate Tristan Wortman. “He hasn’t been able to run because of AAU basketball, but he just joined and I’m so happy.”
Bessette will be a gold-medal threat in Saturday’s Class A state championships in Windham.
“I’m still trying to pick it up,” he said of the triple jump, one of the toughest technical events for a track athlete to master. “I’m still trying to get the hang of it.”
Bessette’s athletic ability does come into play on the runway, particularly his quickness, and it didn’t take him long to master the form.
“There’s a lot more technique to running and the style that you use,” he said. “I never noticed how much technique it took to run and jump.”
Bessette is planning on attempting to walk on to the track team at the University of Maine in the fall.