As a 14-year-old freshman, a poised Olivia Albert pitched the Old Town High School softball team to a Class B state championship.
During the 2017 and 2018 seasons, Mckenna Smith became the playoff ace for the Coyotes. She helped lead them to another state championship in 2017 and a berth in the semifinals against Oceanside of Rockland last season.
Smith is now the freshman closer at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, so Albert hopes to cap her high school career the same way she started it: Helping Old Town win a state title.
Albert pitched some games her sophomore and junior seasons but was also the team’s everyday shortstop.
“I got to a pitch a little less than half the games and that was perfect for me,” Albert said.
She knew she would be Old Town’s No. 1 pitcher this season and she prepared for it throughout the year.
“I knew I had to get ready for it. I’ve worked on my pitching and gotten better. I’ve grown, mentally. I’m a senior and have to be more of a leader than I’ve been in the past,” Albert said. “I’m ready to take on that challenge. I love my team. We’ve got a great group of girls.”
Albert shut out Orono 9-0 in the Coyotes’ opener and struck out 14.
The Coyotes were scheduled to play Ellsworth on Tuesday.
Whereas Smith was a power pitcher with excellent velocity, Albert is more of a finesse pitcher with a variety of pitches and a good command of the strike zone.
“She throws a lot of off-speed stuff,” said Brewer coach Skip Estes, whose Witches won the Class B state championship last season.
“She pitched around half the games the last two years so this won’t be a huge transition for her,” Old Town coach Jenn Plourde said.
Albert also pitched quite a bit with her travel team.
“She works hard and wants to do what’s best for the team. I’m looking forward to having her in the circle as well as her leadership,” Plourde said. “She has grown as a player and a leader. She’s very positive.”
Sophomore Hannah Sirois has inherited the shortstop job and she has impressed.
“She’s very calm and collected,” Plourde said.
In addition to Albert, the Coyotes have four other starters back off last year’s 16-2 team, whose only regular-season loss was to undefeated Brewer.
The junior veterans are catcher Jayden Cain, first baseman Hannah Sibley, third baseman Mikayla Kenny and left fielder Jannessa Brown returns to left field.
The first-year starters will be junior Teagan Blackie in right field, freshman second baseman Logan Gardner and senior center fielder Emily Ketch.
Sophomore Raegan Glidden will be the No. 2 pitcher, sophomore Abby Roy is a versatile utility player and junior Sydney Sheehan will see some duty in the outfield.
Plourde has liked what she has seen from her offense, which should include Albert, Sibley and Cain as the catalysts.
Plourde also said her team has been solid defensively despite being hampered by a lack of practice time outside due to the wet conditions.
“I don’t think people expect much out of us. We’re a little younger than we’ve been in the past with just two seniors. But we have some skills,” Albert said. “It’s going to be a fun year.”