LINCOLN, Maine — What happens when a team that posted a regular season record of 51-13 over a four-year span drops down a class?
It comes as no surprise that the team won its first five games in its new class by a combined score of 69-2.
That is what has transpired for the Mattanawcook Academy softball team, which is back in Eastern Maine Class C after a highly successful run in Eastern B.
Dean Libbey, in his 34th year directing the fortunes of the Lynx, said he likes his team and it’s easy to see why.
He has 23 players on his roster, so those who aren’t getting varsity action can play for the junior-varsity team.
The Lynx are coming off a 12-4 season and a No. 6 seed in the B standings. They were beaten in the quarterfinals by Bucksport 7-2.
That could very well be this year’s matchup in the Eastern C final as the Bucks have also dropped to Class C.
Bucksport and Mattanawcook entered Wednesday’s activity atop the Heal points standings.
The Bucks were 4-0 and ranked No. 1.
The Lynx were 13-3 and the second seed in 2010, 14-2 and the top seed in 2009 and 12-4 and the second seed in 2008.
Libbey had to replace three All-PVC Class B players, but he returned players at virtually every position who have some previous varsity experience, even if it was limited.
“I have a good, strong nucleus of juniors and seniors,” Libbey said. “Their chemistry is good. They all seem to be feeding off each other. I’ve been pleasantly surprised how well we’ve gotten out of the gate this season.”
Despite their success in B, Libbey said they are happy in C.
“It was very competitive in B. It was very difficult to still get a win if you made mistakes. The pitching was overpowering,” Libbey said.
Libbey is breaking in some pitchers this season as Tayla Trask, the PVC Class B Pitcher of the Year last season, has graduated.
So have All-PVC second teamers third baseman Brooke Kimball and right fielder Rianne Gardner, along with starting catcher Amanda Gulesian.
Junior Taylor Blood, the starting first baseman a year ago, headlines the pitching rotation along with junior Tia Hardy and freshman Courtney McIntyre.
“They aren’t overpowering like Tayla Trask, but they throw strikes and they have good speed,” Libbey said. “All three have done an outstanding job keeping the hitters off balance. Courtney throws very hard.”
Libbey said all three work with standout pitching guru Skip Estes, who tutors pitchers from across the state.
Blood plays first base when she isn’t pitching.
All-PVC first team designated hitter Taylor Hawkins, a senior, is now the center fielder and junior Ashley Libby moves in behind the plate.
Libbey considers the trio his offensive catalysts, although he is quick to point out “everyone in the lineup has at least one hit this season.”
When Blood is pitching, senior Jenna Brown plays first.
The double-play combination returns intact, although they have switched positions.
Senior Ashley Crosby has moved from second to short and junior Mikaila Bisson has gone from short to second.
“Ashley has a little more range and quickness,” Libbey said.
Sophomore Carly McDonald has earned the third-base job and is a first-year starter.
Junior Morgan Russell is back in left field and also returns to the leadoff spot in the batting order.
Hardy is in right field.
“I think we have a more offensive weapons than last year, and I feel we’re stronger defensively, too,” said Libbey, who still enjoys coaching.
“There’s never a dull moment,” he quipped.
Correction: An earlier version of this story listed the wrong person who is conducting pitching lessons for Mattanawcook Academy pitcher Tia Hardy. The lessons are given by Skip Estes, not Bob Mercer.