The Bangor High School softball team has endured two extremes the last two seasons. Both were caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last spring, there were no high school spring sports in Maine.
This year, due to some pandemic issues, including quarantines due to contract tracing, the Rams found themselves playing catch-up to fit in all 16 of their regular-season games.
Bangor wound up having to play 11 games in 13 days for the period ending Wednesday, including a stretch last week with a game for six consecutive days.
“We haven’t had a practice in three and a half weeks,” Bangor coach Don Stanhope said after Wednesday night’s come-from-behind 12-11 win over Brewer in the regular-season finale. “We’ve tried to fit in a little practice during pregame. We’ve done a lot of walking and talking and talking on the bus.
“We’ve tried to give them rest when we can. We’ve tried to space our pitchers out. This is nothing I’ve ever been a part of,” he added.
Despite the challenging schedule dynamics, Stanhope said his players have tremendous heart and resolve.
“It is a testament to these kids to see how hard they have played. They have had energy for every game and haven’t let up,” Stanhope said.
“Their energy waned in a couple of innings but they pulled it back together,” he added.
Emmie Streams has been a workhorse, catching every inning of all Bangor’s games.
“I’ve iced my arms a lot,” Streams said with a grin. “At first I was tired but then I got over the hump.”
“We powered through it,” she said of the Rams’ ability to work through things.
Lane Barron, one of two Bangor pitchers, and her twin sister Rae, the third baseman, had to miss three games due to contact tracing. That meant senior Jenna Smith, the other pitcher, got all the pitching assignments during that period.
“It has definitely been the gauntlet as the coaches called it. I just tried to stay healthy by eating well and drinking well,” Smith said.
“We stuck together and did what we needed to do,” she said.
Stanhope has been carrying only 11 players on his varsity roster, so when the Barrons were sidelined, he called up some players from the JV team.
Center fielder-shortstop Taylor Coombs admitted the schedule has been draining and there have been a couple of innings during which they lacked intensity, but they bounced right back.
“It has brought us a lot closer and we have played harder because of it,” second baseman Cassidy Ireland said.
“We had a few days off last weekend and that helped us recuperate,” Ireland pointed out.
Bangor wound up 7-9 and is the No. 8 seed for the Class A North playoffs that begin on Monday. The Rams open with a preliminary round game against No. 9 Hampden Academy (7-9).
In the meantime, Bangor will finally have some valuable practice time to tune up their skills.