Holly Tripp is in her first year as Erskine softball coach, but she played in high school and college, and has also served as an assistant for the Eagles.
This spring, Erskine has been outside for at least part of every practice. Tripp can’t remember that happening with one of her teams before.
Today is opening day for many baseball, softball, and tennis teams, and Erskine will be at Edward Little this afternoon. Tripp has seen signs that this mild spring was a bonus.
“As much we have a lot of returners, we are trying a lot of people in new places,” Tripp said. “I think we learned a lot. I think the girls are more comfortable.”
The Mt. Blue baseball and softball teams will be hosting Bangor at 10 a.m. today. Mt. Blue baseball coach Dan Stefanilo said the nice weather allowed his players to practice fly balls and grounders, but he added there’s something to be said for practicing inside.
“You can control things better inside the gym,” Stefanilo said. “Especially when you’re breaking down hitting, it’s easier to do that inside. We actually took a couple (extra) days inside, just to make sure we were mechanically sound before we headed out to the diamond.”
Both Mt. Blue teams will be tested right away. Bangor traditionally has strong baseball and softball programs.
“They’re always a great team, and they never take days off,” Stefanilo said. “They’re going to put the ball in play, they’re going to hit the ball hard, and they’re going to throw strikes.”
One of the top softball matchups of the day has Messalonskee hosting Brewer in a rematch of last year’s Eastern A final. Messalonskee won that game, but graduated several players from that team. The Eagles had to shake things up some more when catcher Natalie Hunt sprained her thumb.
“I’ll only lose her for two weeks, but it completely changes the dynamics of the infield,” Bouchard said.
With Hunt sidelined, third baseman Emily York will move behind the plate, shortstop Kylee Knight will go to third base, second baseman Nikki Collier will fill in at short, and Holly Wentworth will move in at second base.
Bouchard said that even with several new players, the Eagles are more than ready to start the season.
“We just had a team dinner. We had a long chat about the season and other things,” Bouchard said. “They’re very excited to prove what they can do.”
Winslow will be hosting Waterville in baseball and softball, with both games starting at 1. Winslow has a new baseball coach in Jesse Lacasse, and a new softball coach in Beth Fisher.
Tripp is one of eight new softball coaches in the Morning Sentinel/Kennebec Journal coverage area. She said the biggest things she wants to see from her players to today are focus and making the easy plays.
“I think we have a lot of athletes who can go above and beyond and make those ‘Web Gems,’ ” Tripp said. “But honestly, I’d just like to see them make the routine plays, and everything else would be gravy.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243