DANFORTH, Maine — When sisters Kaitlyn and Shaunna Beaudoin are squabbling with each other, their father, Shawn, knows exactly what to do.
“I tell them to get their gloves and go outside and throw to each other,” Shawn said.
“We chuck the ball [hard] and get it out [of our systems]. We don’t try to hurt each other. So it’s a win-win situation,” Kaitlyn Beaudoin said. “We get along most of the time.”
“We try to throw as hard as we can,” said Shaunna. “Then we calm down and laugh about it.”
The two also play catch a lot on the softball field, as Kaitlyn pitches for Danforth’s East Grand High School and Shaunna is her catcher.
Their dad is their head coach, their mother, Lisa, is the scorekeeper and their older brother Adam was an assistant last year before joining the service.
And they have led the Vikings to a 12-2 record and the top spot in the Eastern Maine Class D Heal Points standings.
East Grand, with just 55 kids in the school, played its regular-season finale against Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook on Wednesday.
The 12-2 mark represents a three-year progression after an eight-year stretch in which the Vikings went 7-98 and never won more than two games in a season.
After back-to-back winless seasons in 2007 and 2008 and a 2-9 campaign in 2009, the Vikings went 5-5 in 2010 and 7-5 during the regular season a year ago.
Kaitlyn Beaudoin, who stands just 5 feet, 2¼ inches tall and is the only senior on the team, has held opponents to two runs or less seven times.
She has struck out 159 in those 14 games for an average of 11 strikeouts per game.
“She’s a good pitcher,” said Limestone Community School-Maine School of Science and Mathematics coach Ryan O’Neal, whose team has split with East Grand. “She isn’t very big but she throws pretty hard. She throws as hard as anyone up here. And she doesn’t walk people.
“She pitches to contact. She doesn’t try to blow people away. She’s pretty economical. And they make the plays behind her. They don’t make a lot of mistakes,” O’Neal said.
O’Neal also said Shaunna Beaudoin is a “real good catcher. And she’s probably their best hitter, too.”
Shaunna Beaudoin said her sister “definitely has more velocity this year.”
“She’s older and stronger,” agreed Shawn Beaudoin.
Kaitlyn Beaudoin said in addition to having better velocity, “I’ve been able to place the ball better.”
She has also added a changeup to her repertoire.
“It has worked pretty well,” said Kaitlyn, who is quick to credit her teammates for their play behind her.
“The girls have played very good defense. We’re much better defensively than we were last year,” Kaitlyn said.
Headlining the list of defenders is her sister.
“She’s a very good catcher. She’s the only one on the team who can catch me,” Kaitlyn said.
“I am,” acknowledged Shaunna, who is a junior. “She’s too fast for anyone else to catch her. I’ve caught her since Little League, so I’m used to her speed.
“But I can’t hit off her, though,” Shaunna admitted.
The sisters credit their dad and Adam for playing prominent roles in their development and success.
Their brother is serving in the U.S. Air Force in the United Arab Emirates.
“I talk to him just about every night,” Kaitlyn said. “He’s pretty much still another coach.”
Shaunna Beaudoin, who is six inches taller than her sister, said that without her father and brother, “The program would be a mess.”
Shawn Beaudoin has coached most of these players beginning when they formed a Little League softball program.
“The girls were cut from Little League baseball so we started a Little League softball program,” Shawn said. “We used to play Lee. Then the girls moved on to middle school.”
Shawn Beaudoin readily admits he is “more demanding” of his daughters.
“It can get a little intense after a game,” Kaitlyn said. “But it’s usually pretty good.”
The Beaudoin sisters are also two of the offensive catalysts along with third baseman Jayne Cousins and shortstop Elisha Farley.
Cousins and Farley are juniors.
“We’re a better-hitting team this year,” Kaitlyn said.
Freshman Allie McEwen is the first baseman and is the heir-apparent to replace Kaitlyn Beaudoin in the circle next season.
“She’s a very good pitcher for her age,” Shawn Beaudoin said.
Freshman Chelsea Winiarski plays second base and is very good defensively, according to the coach.
Sophomore Theresa Cousins is the center fielder; junior Cassie Parent plays right field and freshmen Angel Stoddard and Cassidy Woo share right field. Eighth-grader Kim Stoddard also sees some outfield duty.
The East Grand girls have lost in the quarterfinals in each of the last two seasons, but they had to travel to Deer Isle-Stonington last year and Southern Aroostook two years ago.
They won’t have to travel this season unless they reach the EM championship game, which will be played in Brewer. They will host a quarterfinal game and, if they win that, they will host a semifinal.
And athletic director Chris Young said the parking lot will be full, as it always is when they’re playing at home.
“This means a lot to the community,” Young said. “To do what they’ve done with just 55 kids in the school is a pretty good feat.”
The Beaudoin sisters said their team is close-knit.
“Most of us play every sport together: soccer, basketball and softball,” said Kaitlyn, who will attend the University of Maine at Presque Isle in the fall.
She also said the team is extremely dedicated.
“We’ll even come down [to the field] on Saturday and have a one- or two-hour practice,” said Kaitlyn, who also watches a lot of college softball on television to pick up pointers.
“We have harder practices now,” Shaunna said. “We practice two hours a day. And no one minds it because we need to practice to get where we want to be.”
And that would be hoisting a championship trophy.