The Old Town and Hermon High School softball teams are serving notice that they are very much in the Eastern Maine Class B title hunt.
Both are 6-0 and they have cruised to those victories.
Old Town has outscored its opponents 72-6, and Hermon has scored 64 runs to its opponents’ eight.
Old Town first-year coach Jenn Plourde and veteran Hermon coach Steph Biberstein both know they have had favorable schedules to date.
Old Town has two wins over teams with winning records, Mount Desert Island (6-1) and Class C Orono (5-2), and Hermon has one in 6-4 Ellsworth.
But the coaches are understandably pleased with their teams’ starts.
Old Town has parlayed a strong lineup, aggressive baserunning, good team defense and the arm of junior Kendra Hayward into their impressive start.
“Kendra has really developed,” said Plourde. “She uses a bunch of pitches, she changes speeds well and she always moves the ball around.”
The Coyotes’ attack has been led by junior right-fielder Sam Milton, senior first baseman Ashley Abbott and senior center-fielder Meagen Cousins.
“I think Sam is hitting in the mid-.600s and Ashley and Meagen are near .500,” said Plourde.
Abbott and Hayward are two of their top power hitters along with junior third baseman Susan Outman and senior shortstop Ashley England.
Milton and sisters Meagan and Brittany Cousins are their speedsters.
Freshman Brittany Cousins is the left-fielder.
England was an outfielder last year and made the move to shortstop to take advantage of her quickness and range. Outman has switched from shortstop to third base where she does an excellent job reading bunts and other situations, according to Plourde.
Junior catcher Kelsey Hesseltine suffered an ankle injury, so freshman Michaela Milton moved in behind the plate and has done a nice job, said Plourde.
Hesseltine has been getting some playing time in the outfield now that she has returned.
Sophomore Meaghan Leighton can play third or first; sophomore Chelsea Lynch can play third, and junior Jordan Roy can play first or be the designated hitter.
Freshman Rachel Martin is the No. 2 pitcher behind Hayward, and Plourde said she has a promising career.
Plourde said the Coyotes’ run production is bolstered by “a lot of quickness.”
“And the girls are real smart on the bases,” added the 24-year-old Plourde, who coached the JV softball team at Bangor’s John Bapst Memorial High School for three years.
She also said they do a good job getting bunts down and moving runners.
Defensively, Plourde considers her team to be sound.
“A couple of the girls have had to adjust to new positions and they’ve done a real good job,” said Plourde.
Biberstein said her Hermon team is still growing.
“We aren’t as good as we can be, yet,” said Biberstein, who guided the Hawks to the state Class B title two years ago.
“The area I’ve been most pleased with has been our hitting,” said Biberstein. “We’ve hit the ball real well. We’ve also worked real hard on our bunting and I’ve been very pleased with that.”
Sophomore Shania Haskell, who was a middle infielder last year, is now the catcher and has been a key factor in the leadoff spot.
“She’s hitting close to .600,” said Biberstein.
Senior second baseman Sammy Schultz is around the .500 mark and junior first baseman Shannon Graves is hitting over .400, according to Biberstein.
Schultz and Haskell also hit for power.
“We also have a bunch of players who are good contact hitters,” said Biberstein.
Freshman left-fielder Claire Petersen, junior center-fielder Gabby Bryant and sophomore right-fielder Katie Kivler are among those effective contact hitters, and Bryant and Petersen are quick on the basepaths.
Junior Kristen Wilcox returns at shortstop, although she has just returned after breaking a finger in preseason. Petersen filled in admirably for her.
Freshman Kylie Kennedy is the starting third baseman after Emily Stocker has been lost for the season due to injury.
The ace of the pitching staff is Abby Burgess, who has been on the JV team her previous three seasons.
“I give her a lot of credit. She has come a long way,” said Biberstein. “Between her sophomore and junior years, she made huge strides. She has a lot of pitches and hits her spots well. She has a good changeup.”
Graves and junior Nicole Ryder can also pitch.
Seniors Rayshell Gagne and Megan Whitney are reserve outfielders and Whitney can also catch. Junior Jenny Phipps is an outfielder who also pinch hits.
Biberstein said the team has been rock-solid defensively.
“We’ve made only three errors all season,” said Biberstein, who has been coaching since 2003, although she took two seasons off after the birth of her second son.
She said this team is the “most talented I have coached across the board.”
She also said the team chemistry is exceptional.
“This is a great team to coach. They get along tremendously,” said Biberstein.
Eastern Maine Class B has an exceptional pool of teams, according to Biberstein.
“The level of competition across the boards is very good. Anybody could win it,” said the Hermon coach.