The Calais High School softball team has been a model of success.
Beginning with the 2006 season, the Blue Devils’ regular season record is 97-6.
The Blue Devils won Eastern Maine Class C championships in 2008 and 2009 and captured the state championship in 2009.
Coach Greg Smith considers defending Eastern Maine Class B champ Bucksport, which has dropped to Class C this season, to be the “cream of the crop.”
But he certainly doesn’t discount his Blue Devils, who were 12-0 entering a Wednesday game against Mattanawcook Academy, another former Class B contender that dropped to B this season.
Calais is second in the Heal points standings behind Bucksport.
“This is a lot like my 2009 team,” said Smith, who is in his 20th season coaching the Blue Devils. “This is one of my better defensive teams. I’m very proud of them. They’ve exceeded my expectations up to this point.”
The Blue Devils have allowed just 10 runs while scoring 154.
And they have accomplished it with freshmen batterymates.
Olivia Smith, Greg’s daughter, is the pitcher and Madison McVicar catches her.
Smith said his daughter reminds him a lot of Tessa Clark, who pitched Calais to the state title in 2009.
“She’s not overpowering but she hits her spots and her ball has a little movement,” said Smith.
“She’s very accurate and she has multiple pitches,” said senior shortstop Allison Hill, younger sister of Husson University base-stealing phenom Courtney Hill.
Smith’s repertoire includes a fastball, changeup, curve and drop.
She throws strikes and the defense makes the plays behind her, according to her dad.
Sophomore Paige Gillespie is the first baseman, junior Miranda Moffett plays second, Hill is at short and the third baseman is senior Rachel Cundiff.
Senior Emily McCadden starts in left and the center fielder is junior Meaghan Cavanaugh.
Smith said he has a number of options in right including sophomores Jordan Hatch, Kaitlyn Cundiff and Jasmine Ross and freshman Kaylee Johnson.
“This is the deepest team I’ve had,” said Smith.
“We have a lot of girls who can play any position,” agreed Hill.
Clean-up hitter Gillespie and Moffett, who hits in the sixth slot, have sparked the offense, according to Smith.
Gillespie is hitting over .500 and Moffett is the RBI leader, said Smith.
Cavanaugh is the leadoff hitter and a speedster who makes things happen on the bases.
McVicar is the No. 2 hitter and Hill hits third in the lineup with Olivia Smith hitting fifth.
“We have a very strong lineup,” said Hill. “There isn’t anyone who can’t hit.”
Smith and Hill said a strong youth softball program and the work ethic of the players have contributed to the longtime success.
“The girls want to work hard. They don’t want to lose,” said Smith.
“We love softball and we have great coaches,” said Hill, who noted that they work on all aspects of the game in practice.
Howlers on the prowl
The Penobscot Valley High School girls soccer team reached the Eastern Maine Class D championship game in the fall and several of those players are on the softball team and would love to go a step further this spring.
The Howlers were 11-1 entering a Wednesday game against Penquis of Milo and third-year coach Tom Coyle has liked what he has seen.
“Position for position, this is the best softball team they’ve ever had in Howland,” said Coyle, who is in his second stint as the head coach of the Howlers after coaching them in the 1980s and guiding them to an Eastern Maine title in 1981.
He had been coaching at the junior high before taking over the varsity job.
Coyle actually coached the mothers of some of his players.
His team has featured the right arm of junior Kayla Dube, an exceptional defense behind her and a lineup that has produced 113 runs.
The Howlers have allowed just 14 runs and Dube has posted seven shutouts.
“She has been working with [pitching guru] Bob Mercer since seventh grade. She had showed great promise in junior high,” said Coyle. “She hasn’t allowed more than four hits in a game this season and has three one-hitters and four or five two-hitters.”
Dube, according to Coyle, has a good fastball among the five pitches in her arsenal.
“She has a good rise and a good curve,” said Coyle. “And, this year, she has really mastered her location.”
Sophomore Jenna Hope has been a big help to her, according to Coyle.
“She caught her in junior high and they’ve played AAU softball together,” said Coyle.
Defensively, Coyle said they’ve made only 11 errors in 12 games.
“They’ve played great defense,” said Coyle. “And they know what they’re doing [fundamentally] out there. They’re fun to watch.”
Offensively, Coyle said his entire lineup has an on-base percentage over .400.
They have three senior starters in the infield with Reese Leonard at first, Alissa Whitten at second and Kirstin Batchelder at short. The third baseman is sophomore Shaelyn Jones whose mother, Tammy Austin, played softball.
Junior Bethany Heald is the left fielder, senior Eliza Pelletier is in center and the right fielder is sophomore Molly McGinn.
The speedy Batchelder is the leadoff hitter and draws a lot of walks.
Jones and Leonard follow her in the lineup with Pelletier, McGinn and Hope comprising the middle of the order and driving in a healthy portion of the runs.
Coyle is an advocate of aggressive baserunning and his Howlers follow his lead, stealing bases and taking the extra base when the opportunity presents itself.