BUCKSPORT, Maine — Mel Grant, a former Searsport High and Brewer American Legion standout, made his debut as the softball coach at Searsport High School on Monday afternoon.
Unfortunately for Grant, it was with a freshman-laden Searsport team against the 2011 Eastern Maine Class B champion Golden Bucks of Bucksport, who were making their debut in Class C and lost just one player off last year’s 17-3 team.
Bucksport coach Mike Carrier earned praise from Grant after a classy display of sportsmanship in the Bucks’ 19-0, 4½-inning win.
Bucksport scored 16 first-inning runs and, at the tail end of that inning and continuing throughout the game, Carrier had all of his hitters bunt.
“I have a lot of respect for him for doing that,” said Grant. “They’re superior to anybody we’re going to play. We’re really young. We don’t have any seniors, we have one junior, two sophomores and nine freshmen.”
“We got a lot of good work in on our bunting,” said Carrier. “I told [Grant] we were going to do that. We got quite a bit out of that. We could have gotten on base with some of those bunts if the other team didn’t know we were bunting.”
“We don’t get much chance to work on our bunting during the season,” said senior second baseman Sadie Wight, the Penobscot Valley Conference’s Class B Player of the Year last season. “It’s really good to work on bunts.”
Wight said “it doesn’t make sense” to keep scoring after building up an insurmountable lead.
“You don’t want to do that to another team. They’re young. They need to work on stuff like we do, so by bunting, we helped them get outs.”
Wight, a .613 hitter last year, had a two-run single and a run-scoring double in the first inning and reached on a bunt single in the second. She went 3-for-4.
“We tried to be classy about it,” said Bucksport sophomore center fielder Brie Bires, who went 3-for-3 with a two-run triple and two bunt singles, one of which produced a run. She wound up with four RBIs.
Senior left fielder-pitcher Jen Wight also had three hits, all singles, and Alanna Davis had two singles.
There were nine hits, six errors and three walks in the first-inning uprising for the Bucks.
A line-drive single off the bat of Davis struck Searsport pitcher Allison Walker in the thigh in that inning.
The courageous Walker stayed in the game after being attended to, but she was replaced on the mound by Gwen Higgins. Walker played right field before moving in to play first base.
“I didn’t think she’d keep playing. She’s a tough kid,” said Carrier about Walker.
Higgins picked up Searsport’s lone hit as she poked a single into center in the fifth inning.
Junior righthander Cassidy Adams, who is replacing the graduated Abby Yeo as the ace of the pitching staff, struck out four in two innings of work before Jen Wight hurled the final three innings and struck out five.
“Jen did a great job,” said Carrier. “She pitched in just one game last year and pitched in one [exhibition] game over the weekend.”
Carrier said the Vikings showed a lot of character.
“They didn’t seem intimidated. They just kept plugging away,” said Carrier.
The highlight of the game for Carrier was the game-ending 4-6-3 double play featuring Wight, shortstop Shelby Redman and senior first baseman Bailey Blair.
“That made my day. You have to have great timing, come across the second base bag just right and make two great throws [to turn a double play]. And the girl running down the line [Walker] wasn’t slow,” said Carrier.