One is a lefty, the other is a righty.
They share the pitching duties for the Hermon High School softball team, and they also are two of the top hitters in Eastern Maine Class B.
Karli Theberge, the lefty, and Allessa Oakes, the righty, have been instrumental in leading the Hawks to a 16-2 record and a berth in the Eastern Maine Class B championship game against undefeated Gardiner at 3 p.m. Wednesday at Brewer’s Coffin Field.
They were both chosen to the All-Penobscot Valley Class B first team, and they are only 16-year-old sophomores.
“They have come up big for us all year long, both hitting the ball and in the circle. And when they aren’t pitching, they both contribute defensively,” said first-year Hermon coach Megan McCrum.
Oakes is the shortstop, and Theberge plays right field when she isn’t pitching. Theberge also can play first base.
“As hitters, they both see the ball very well and make good hard contact,” said McCrum. “As pitchers, they both have good movement on their pitches and do a good job changing speeds and keeping the hitters off-balance.”
“They’re good, and they’re going to be even better when they get more games underneath them,” said Old Town coach Jenn Plourde.
Theberge hit an eye-opening .609 during the regular season with a homer, nine doubles, two triples and a team-high 30 RBIs. She topped the team in hits with 28 and tied for the team lead in homers and doubles. In 59 plate appearances, she never struck out.
In the pitching circle, she was 7-1 with a miniscule 0.14 earned run average. She allowed 20 hits in 51 innings with 57 strikeouts and just five walks.
Oakes hit .491 during the regular season with seven doubles, a homer and a team-high three triples. She shared the team lead in stolen bases with 10 and tied for second in RBIs (20) and runs scored (24).
In the circle, she was 7-1 with a 0.80 ERA. In 44 innings, she gave up 20 hits and had 64 strikeouts and just 11 walks.
Theberge and Oakes are friends and have been playing softball together for a long time.
“We started playing together in T-ball,” said Theberge.
They play other sports, but softball is their favorite, and they play in competitive leagues during the summer.
Oakes also plays soccer and basketball, and Theberge plays field hockey and participates in indoor track where she does the long jump, high jump and triple jump.
Theberge and Oakes said they benefited from getting ample varsity playing time as freshmen.
“I didn’t have much confidence as a freshman. I was the youngest player on the team. But I definitely have more confidence this year because I’m a year older, and I know how everything works,” said Oakes.
They have made significant strides from last season.
“I worked hard all summer on making solid contact and not popping up. I had been bending my front leg instead of keeping it strong [causing a slight uppercut],” Oakes said.
“I’m bigger and stronger this year. I’m confident at the plate. I think positive, and I like to jump on first-pitch strikes because pitchers like to throw them [to get ahead in the count],” said Theberge. “And the most I’ve improved has been on defense. I’m more comfortable fielding my positions.”
She admitted that she was surprised to put up the numbers she has at the plate.
“It’s nice to have a season like this because you never know … people go into slumps. I had some stretches last year when I didn’t hit well. It’s great to be able to contribute and be there for the team when they need me,” said Theberge.
Theberge said the fact she didn’t strike out during the regular season has to do with her demeanor at the plate.
“When I get two strikes, I don’t get nervous. I’m confident. I get more focused,” she said.
In the circle, Theberge said she feels her velocity has increased and she has added a few more pitches. She throws six pitches including a change-up, which has “always been one of my favorite pitches. I try to keep it low in the zone.”
Oakes said she has refined all of her pitches, especially her change-up, and it has made a significant difference because hitters can’t just sit on a fastball.
“You need a pitch that forces the hitters to take their eyes off your fastball,” said Oakes.
They said since one of them is a lefty and the other is a righty, that has served as an advantage in the pitching circle. Teams that play them twice may have to face each of them so they won’t know what to expect. And if one of them is struggling, McCrum can bring the other one in relief.
“And we’re very different pitchers,” said Theberge.
The two friends often compare notes, and that has been beneficial.
“It’s great. We talk to each other about softball. We know exactly how each of us is feeling,” said Theberge.