December 17, 2018
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Injury forces UMaine softball team to juggle lineup

BDN File | BDN
BDN File | BDN
University of Maine's Felicia Lennon connects with a pitch from University of Maryland-Baltimore County during their softball game in Orono, May 6, 2016.
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Felicia Lennon hadn’t missed a game in three years.

But the University of Maine’s senior shortstop, a two-time All-America East second-team softball selection, suffered a broken ring finger on her throwing hand, so head coach Mike Coutts has had to rearrange his lineup.

Lennon, who also missed time with a sprained ankle on the spring trip, is wearing a cast. Coutts hopes to get her back on April 21, when the Black Bears visit the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Lennon played in six games and was hitting .250.

Sophomore Alyssa Derrick, who played third base last year but moved to right field this season, had been filling in at shortstop for Lennon. But Coutts moved South Portland sophomore Laurine German, who had been starting at second base, over to shortstop this past weekend.

“It wasn’t that Alyssa had been doing a bad job. I just wanted to change things around to find the right (fit) defensively,” Coutts explained.

“It’s tough to lose a shortstop. It’s like losing a quarterback or a goalie,” Coutts said. “And she’s a senior, who had played in every game for three years. But we’ve got to be ready to handle it.”

In 2016, Lennon hit .328 with four homers and 32 runs batted in after a strong sophomore year (.324, 4 HR, 21 RBIs).

Defending America East champion UMaine, chosen by league coaches to finish first, concluded its spring trip with a 3-17 record.

Coutts isn’t overly concerned because six of the losses came against nationally-ranked teams: No. 21 Arizona State (1 loss), No. 24 Wisconsin (3) and No. 25 Brigham Young (2).

The spring trip was grueling by design.

“If you want to go to another level, you need to see what the next level is like,” Coutts explained. “You have to see how good the players are and what you need to do to get there.

“I asked the girls to leave their comfort zone and grow as individuals and as a team. The kids embraced it,” he said.

South Portland senior Erin Bogdanovich, who was 10-5 with a 3.05 earned run average a year ago and was named the league’s pitcher of the year, struggled on the spring trip as did the rest of the staff. She was 1-6 with a 6.72 earned-run average. Annie Kennedy was 1-3 with a 5.54 ERA and 2016 All-AE second teamer Molly Flowers was 1-7 with an 8.84 ERA and 47 walks in 31 ⅔ innings.

UMaine posted a lofty 7.16 ERA.

“When you face top-25 teams, there aren’t any holes in their lineups,” Coutts said. “Erin got off to a bad start last year (and bounced back).”

UMaine hit just .231 as a team but Coutts said the Black Bears faced exceptional pitching.

“The hitting will come around,” predicted Coutts, whose team has been led by center fielder Rachel Carlson (.355-0 homers-5 runs batted in), left fielder Erika Leonard (.310-2-14 RBIs) and 1B Kristen Niland (.250-2-4), who are juniors; senior catcher Rachel Harvey (.288-1-5) and Derrick (.190) who leads the team in homers (6) and is second in RBIs with 12.

Sophomore right fielder Meghan Royle hit .224 with two homers and 10 RBIs.

UMaine committed 40 errors in 20 games.

UMaine will return to action on Sunday when they visit Fairfield, Connecticut for back-to-back games with Sacred Heart (noon) and Quinnipiac (2 p.m.).

The Black Bears will open their home and league schedule against Hartford with a three-game set on April 8-9.

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