Opposing catchers are going to have to be on their toes this spring when they play the Bangor High School softball team.
Sophomore catcher Emmie Streams stole six bases last week in a season-opening 6-1 victory over Brewer. And 16-year head coach Don Stanhope has other players who can create havoc with their speed.
“We’re going to be very fast and aggressive on the basepaths,” Stanhope said.
The approach will put pressure on opposing defenses, which can lead to errors and enable the Rams to manufacture runs even if they aren’t having a particularly good day swinging the bats.
Senior shortstop Jenna Smith still expects Bangor to be a good hitting team.
“Our lineup, one through nine, is strong. And we have some good bunters,” Smith said.
The Rams are in a 10-day quarantine after a Brewer player tested positive for COVID-19. They are scheduled to return to the practice field on Friday and travel to Skowhegan on Saturday to face a team that has won three of the last four Class A North titles.
Bangor hasn’t won a regional championship since 2010 but has registered 16 winning seasons in the last 18 years and owns a 203-85 regular-season record (.705) during that span.
The Rams reached the regional final in 2015 but lost 3-2 to eventual state champ Messalonskee of Oakland.
The Rams were 11-5 and the third seed in 2019 and beat Lewison in the quarterfinals before losing to Oxford Hills in the semifinals.
“We’re a pretty young team, but everybody is really dedicated and all of us work hard,” junior pitcher-first baseman-outfielder Lane Barron said.
She posted a home run and a single with two RBIs in the win over Brewer and tossed a two-hitter with 11 strikeouts.
“We have a good attitude and we’re all friends, so it’s fun,” she said.
Barron is one of four returning starters from 2019 along with her twin sister, Rae Barron, Smith and senior first baseman Lydia Chase.
Lane Barron previously saw some duty in the circle behind ace Morgan-Carter Moulton and has inherited the No. 1 role. She has been working with pitching guru and Husson University assistant Rick Roberts.
Stanhope said Barron has shown significant improvement, increasing her velocity, adding movement to her pitches and locating them better.
“I have a lot more confidence now,” Lane Barron said.
Joining Chase and Smith in the infield are sophomore second baseman Cassidy Ireland and junior third baseman Rae Barron, who was the catcher in 2019 but has made a smooth transition to third.
Streams is behind the plate and is one of three speedy sophomore starters along with center fielder Taylor Coombs and left fielder Ashley Schultz. Victoria Andrews, Lily Smith, Jenna’s sister, Kristie Gerrish and Raegan Sprague are all in the outfield mix.
Jenna Smith and Sprague follow Lane Barron in the pitching rotation. When Smith pitches, Streams moves to shortstop and Rae Barron catches.
Smith has been sidelined after getting spiked in the hand during a scrimmage, but she has been cleared to return.
“This quarantine was a blessing in disguise for me,” said Smith, who would have missed at least one more game if Bangor hadn’t gone into quarantine.
The Barrons, Jenna Smith and Coombs provide the Rams with power threats and Streams has the potential to be a productive leadoff hitter.
Stanhope said there are many players adapting to new positions but he said they are quick learners.
“I think we’re going to be really good,” Jenna Smith said.