Kenzie Dore is making up for lost time.
After helping lead the Brewer High School softball team to back-to-back state Class B championships in 2018 and 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic robbed her and her fellow seniors of a 2020 season.
But Dore is having a tremendous freshman season at Husson University in Bangor.
She leads the 23-1 Eagles in virtually every offensive category including batting average (.500), home runs (3), hits (37), runs batted in (32), triples (3), total bases (58), extra-base hits (12), slugging percentage (.784) and on-base percentage (.552). She is tied for the team lead in runs scored with 26.
“Kenzie is a smart hitter,” Husson head coach Diann Ramsey said. “She has a calm presence in the batter’s box so she is able to see the ball well (and wait on it). And she has a lot of power.”
Dore is riding a 16-game hitting streak that coincides with Husson’s 16-game winning streak. She has hit safely in 23 of the Eagles’ 24 games, the only blemish an 0-for-5 day on March 27 against the University of Maine at Presque Isle.
The Holden native, who bats third in the order, is hitting .522 with 20 runs batted in during the streak.
“I’m just trying to see the ball the best I can and bring in runs for the team,” said Dore, who plays third and shortstop and also has been used as the designated player.
The Eagles host a best-of-three North Atlantic Conference East Division championship series on Saturday and Sunday against the winner of Friday’s playoff game in Presque Isle between UMPI and Thomas College of Waterville.
The East winner plays the West Division titlist in a best-of-three NAC Championship series for the right to represent the conference in the NCAA Division III softball tournament.
Dore said not being able to play her senior year at Brewer enhanced her passion for softball.
“I learned not to take anything for granted. Our motto here is ‘We have now.’” she said. “I worked really hard in the summer finding fields to play on so I could practice every day. And having fall softball with the team helped.”
The fall campaign was limited by COVID-19 restrictions, so Husson couldn’t do much team bonding until the restrictions were relaxed this spring.
“We were able to scrimmage more this spring and we started playing games. We really clicked on and off the field,” Dore said. “I love this team. They’re like family.”
Dore struggled at the plate early this season, but Ramsey, assistants Dr. Lee Speronis, Rick Roberts and Jenn Plourde, and her teammates helped her settle in.
She quickly discovered the difference between college and high school pitchers.
“The movement on the ball in college is insane,” Dore said.
She had to study opposing pitchers and their tendencies and adapt to the way they try to get batters out.
“My softball IQ has gotten a lot higher in college,” said Dore, who explained that facing two of the best pitchers in the league on a regular basis, teammates Jen Jones and Sydney Ames, has been extremely beneficial.
Jones, a graduate student from Acton, is Husson’s career strikeouts leader. She has a 10-0 record, a 1.20 earned run average and 91 strikeouts in 64 innings this spring. Ames, a sophomore from Skowhegan, is 11-1 with a 1.93 ERA.
Husson is hitting .365 as a team and is averaging 7.7 runs per game.
“I think facing some of the best hitters in the league [during practice] helps our pitchers,” Dore said.
Dore is happy with her season, but knows teams will be gunning for the two-time defending league champions in the playoffs.
“Teams want to destroy us but we have a reputation to live up to. We want to win the NAC and go to the NCAA Tournament,” said the former four-year starter at Brewer High.
Other important offensive contributors for the Eagles include Katie Raymond (.417, 17 RBIs), Madelyn Fowler (.408, 12 RBIs), Ames (.390, 12 RBIs), Hermon’s Katie Windsor (.389, 9 RBIs) and Acton’s Morgan Coleman (.300, 2 homers, 19 RBIs).