ORONO, Maine — While at Orono High School, Chloe Douglass set the school record for home runs during her senior season. The catcher and shortstop batted right-handed.
Now, as a senior at the University of Maine, she is a slap hitter from the left side who plays in the outfield.
Douglass did not get an at-bat in her first two seasons as she was used exclusively as a pinch-runner. Rather than transfer to a school where she could have played regularly, she has persevered while earning a spot with the Black Bears.
Douglass has played in 30 of UMaine’s 37 games this season and has gone 6-for-24 at the plate (.250) while playing errorless defense while handling 11 chances.
“I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy process but I came out every day, kept working and now there is a great payoff,” said Douglass, who is considered one of the team’s hardest workers by head coach Mike Coutts.
The second-place Black Bears (16-21, 10-4 America East) conclude the regular season by hosting Albany for a three-game series starting Friday.
Last year, Douglass appeared in 27 games and went 4-for-10 (.400) with two RBIs.
She admits to some frustration her first two seasons but it was tempered by the fact, “I was playing at the highest level [Division I] and I wanted to take advantage of it.”
In January 2016, when assistant coach Lynn Coutts approached her about switching over to the left side and becoming a slap hitter, she embraced it.
“I had never done anything lefty in my life but I was willing to give it a shot,” said Douglass. “I was able to learn how to hit from the left side and, since them, I love slapping. It has completely turned the game around for me. It has opened up a lot more opportunities.
“The most important thing in this day and age in softball is to get the ball in play. Once it is in play, anything can happen,” said Douglass.
“Her strength is her speed so if she was able to put the ball down, she had a chance of breaking into the lineup,” said Lynn Coutts. “She has good hand-eye coordination and she has learned how to attack different pitches and speeds.”
One of the people who has helped her become a slap hitter is junior center fielder Rachel Carlson, a “slapper” who leads UMaine with a .368 batting average.
“A lot of people look up to her for having the mentality that she wasn’t going to slow down or she wasn’t going to quit,” said Carlson. “Now it is her time and she has really taken advantage of it.”
“It has been great to watch,” said Mike Coutts. “She has worked hard at becoming a slapper. She has stayed the course. She has just wanted to keep getting better.”
Douglass said she has enjoyed her move to the outfield. She usually plays in right.
“Having some speed has really helped me,” said the daughter of Davis and Kay Douglass.
Douglass made an important catch to help preserve a 4-1 win over the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Lynn Coutts said she has provided some key hits.
Douglass was relentless in approaching then head coach Lynn Coutts about becoming a non-scholarship player at UMaine.
“She came to me five times!” Lynn Coutts said with a chuckle. “She really wanted to come to play here. I told her she needed to get more experience at a different level so she went to play at the Edge Academy [in Portland].”
“Finally, I told her there were no guarantees but I’ll give you a roster spot and we’ll figure this out,” said Lynn Coutts.
Douglass’ attitude has been impressive from day one.
Lynn Coutts said even in her first two seasons, Douglass “had a helmet in her hand from the first inning on. She would always ask if we needed her to pinch-run.”
Douglass said her teammates and the positive atmosphere on the team have enabled her to stay committed even when she wasn’t getting much playing time.
“We all give each other energy. We pick each other up all the time,” she said. “Every day, we want to come out and work for each other.”
“It’s great to have her out there,” said senior shortstop Felicia Lennon. “She takes a lot of pride in being a Black Bear and she goes out and plays for her teammates, her family and the whole state of Maine.”
“It’s great to represent the community you grew up in,” said Douglass. “It’s fun to stay in touch with people who watched me in high school.”
Douglass has enjoyed her time at UMaine and has no regrets.
“All the 6 a.m. [weight] lifts and the three-hour practices every day have been completely worth it,” said Douglass. “I don’t regret a single thing. Just being an athlete at the University of Maine has been really cool in itself.”