ORONO, Maine — Every coach loves to get production from their first-year players.
They are referred to as impact freshmen.
The Husson University and the University of Maine softball teams have received important contributions from freshmen this season and headlining the respective freshman classes are Husson third baseman Victoria Overlock and University of Maine catcher-utility player EmJ Fogel.
Belfast’s Overlock is leading the Eagles in runs batted in, with 27, to go with her .373 average. She has scored 23 runs and has seven doubles, two triples and a home run. Her 45 total bases is tops on the team.
Fogel, from Vienna, Va., is leading the Bears with her .333 average. She is also tops in hits (33), runs scored (14) and doubles (6). She has a triple and has driven in nine runs.
“Victoria has been doing a tremendous job,” Husson coach Amanda Bourgoin said. “She has been hitting the ball real well, she has already been the conference’s Rookie of the Week three times, and she has been playing real solid at third base.”
Overlock said she has surprised herself with her start.
“I always knew I had it in me. I’m just glad to help out my team. It has been a great year,” said Overlock, who has played an integral role in Husson’s 23-9 season to date, including an 11-1 North Atlantic Conference mark, and hits third in the order.
“She’s strong,” Maine coach Lynn Coutts said. “She’s a dangerous hitter. She’s a good player.”
The righthanded-hitting Overlock said she has benefited from “great coaches [Bourgoin and assistants Terry Hall and Lee Speronis],” and the fact she gets to swing a bat on a regular basis.
“We take batting practice every day and we have some great drills,” Overlock said. “The repetition helps train our eyes and everything.”
Fogel is a lefthanded hitter and the EmJ stands for Emily Jordan.
“When I was in fourth grade, we had a lot of Emilys on my basketball team,” Fogel said. “So I needed a nickname and my dad [Steve] put the two [names] together.”
Fogel has been pleased with her start.
“I’m happy with the season. I’m having a lot of fun. I just go up there and try to hit the ball hard,” Fogel said. “Hopefully, it will go somewhere so I can create something for our team. Stats don’t mean a lot to me. I just try to be consistent.”
“I just see the ball and hit it. I don’t try to think too much while I’m up there,” she added.
Fogel had intended to attend the University of Delaware “but it didn’t work out. The coach [B.J. Ferguson] left, so I saw a better option at Maine. I love the school, I love the campus. Orono is a small town and I’m from a small town.”
“When I first got here in November, she was one of the players I thought was going to do something as a freshman,” Coutts said. “She’s our best catcher, she throws the ball well and she calls a good game. She handles the bat very well. She hits leadoff to get us going.”
She also said Fogel has a great attitude and temperament.
“She’s always smiling. She enjoys what she’s doing,” Coutts said.
“She has been a huge asset to our team,” Maine junior pitcher Beth Spoehr said. “She works hard and she has a great attitude. She loves the game. She calls a good game and has been a huge asset to our team.”
Spoehr said she and her teammates joke that the versatile Fogel can play virtually any position and play it well.
Overlock and Fogel aren’t the only freshmen making an impact at their respective schools.
Ellsworth’s Ashley Smith, the Husson second baseman, is hitting a team-leading .429 and leads the team’s regulars in on-base percentage (.506) and slugging percentage (.600). And Heidi Shaw from Manchester and Maranacook High School in Readfield is the starting catcher and is hitting .288 with eight RBIs.
For Maine, Jessica Burk has won the right field job and is hitting .206 with a homer and six RBIs. She singled home the game-winning run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning in Saturday’s 3-2 win over Binghamton.
And Kristen Koslosky has been getting plenty of work at second base and is tied for the team lead in walks with 16. She is hitting .203 and has two RBIs.