Last season, the youthful Central High School softball team from Corinth went 8-8 and finished 10th in Eastern Maine Class C.
There were growing pains, but the Red Devils learned some valuable lessons and applied what they learned this season.
Central already matched last season’s win total and lost just once when they entered Tuesday’s game against Class B power Hermon.
Two of Central’s eight wins came at the expense of defending two-time state champion Bucksport, 8-5 and 4-3.
“It has pretty much been a coming of age for them,” Durice Washburn explained. Washburn coaches the team along with Mike Trafton. “They’re more mature.
“The lineup from top to bottom is a little better, the defense is a little better and the pitching is a little stronger,” Washburn said. “We have the same lineup as we had a year ago. We graduated only one player, and she was the DP [designated player] a little bit.”
Pacing the Red Devils are five juniors who are three-year starters: first baseman Aly Crocker, third baseman Natasha Miller, shortstop Konnar Kirlin, catcher Emily Oko and left fielder Cheyenne Edgerly. Miller is nursing a sprained ankle.
Senior Rebecca Kelley is the pitcher, senior Taylor Robichaud is the second baseman, sophomore Tiffany Smith is the center fielder and her cousin, senior Kendra Smith, plays right.
Freshman Logan Reardon is one of the team’s top hitters and is the designated player, but she has been sidelined by a leg injury, which gives senior Alicia Miller some swings as the DP.
The Red Devils have been racking up a lot of runs, averaging 12.3 runs per game and allowing just 4.2 per game.
Kelley has been solid in the pitching circle. She has pitched every game and is much improved, according to Washburn.
“She isn’t overpowering, but she hits her locations pretty well. Her location has been better this year,” Washburn said. “And we’ve played pretty good defense behind her.”
“I know I have a very strong team behind me,” Kelley said. “I’m more focused and more confident this year, and I have better control.”
Kelley said she mostly threw fastballs a year ago but has since refined her other pitches, particularly her drop ball and changeup.
Kelley has been tutored by pitching instructor Larry Seaney and said it has been beneficial.
In addition to her pitching, Kelley has also been one of the team’s leading hitters, along with Kirlin, Miller and Reardon.
Kelley said the team communication is much better this season, and the team has also worked a lot on its hitting, which has helped.
She said the victories over Bucksport gave them some confidence, but they aren’t basking in the glow of those wins.
“We’re going to play hard every game,” Kelley said. “We aren’t going to relax.”
The pitcher said they would love to make a long run in the playoffs.
“If we stay positive, I think we can go pretty far. It’ll be exciting to see how far we can go,” Kelley said.
Fort Fairfield names inductees
Fort Fairfield High School announced its inaugural Hall of Fame class, which will be inducted in a ceremony at Fort Fairfield High School July 17, coinciding with the Maine Potato Blossom Festival week.
The 17-member selection committee had 68 initial nominations selected from a 100-plus year history.
There were three categories: coaches, players and contributors.
The athletes chosen were Delmar “Chappy” Clark, Richard Cormier, Keith Mahaney, Hilary McNamee, Ralph Michaud Jr., Tim Nightingale and Thomas Towle. The coaches selected were Kenneth Clark, Larry Gardner, Dallas McCrea and Jeanette Peters, and the contributors were Lawrence A. Gardner, father of Larry Gardner, and Charles Lockhart.
More information on tickets for the event and event details will be forthcoming through the Hall’s website and through the media.