Maine Central Institute came into this spring off tough seasons in field hockey, girls soccer and girls basketball, largely due to the school’s small pool of available students. Softball has been different.
The Huskies, who were barely nosed out of the Eastern B playoffs last spring, take a 7-4 record into today’s game at Lincoln Academy. The Huskies are a motivated group that has already defeated No. 4 Nokomis this season.
“I’ve been with this group for four years,” MCI coach Nicole Steeves said. “The strongest combination and relationships and developed confidence is right now.”
Senior pitcher Courtney Fowler has been steady all year and occasionally brilliant. Fowler threw a no-hitter in one game and took a perfect game into the seventh in another before finishing with a one-hit shutout.
MCI’s outfield defense — Bri Losee in left, Carolyn Newhouse in center and Courtney Ouellette and Rhianna Lawn in right — has also been steady, which is a big deal in Manson Park.
“My outfield has had some ridiculous range the last couple games,” Steeves said. “When we play home games, there’s no fence, so my outfield is trained well to have all the range they can get.”
Any of MCI’s last five games could go either way. After Lincoln, the Huskies end their season by facing Gardiner, Winslow, Maranacook and Medomak Valley. The first meetings against Winslow and Gardiner came on back-to-back days and were the low points of MCI’s season, as the Huskies lost 11-4 and 13-1 and committed several errors in each.
“We’ve played games where we haven’t had errors,” Steeves said, “so we know we can do better this time around.”
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Winslow had its biggest win of the season last Friday against Lincoln Academy. The Black Raiders scored five runs in the first and coasted to a 9-1 victory.
“We won six games (at that point) but we weren’t moving up much in the standings,” Winslow coach Steve Bodge said. “We played pretty well the entire game.”
The Black Raiders are No. 7 in the Eastern B Heal points at 8-4 and they have shown they can play with anyone. Their four losses are all to No. 1 Gardiner and No. 4 Nokomis.
“We’ve lost all four games by a total of seven runs, so we’re not too far off,” Bodge said.
Bodge especially liked that Winslow had nine hits the second time around against Nokomis after getting three hits in the first meeting. Through 12 games, the Raiders have 106 runs on 109 hits. Ali LeClair and leadoff hitter Brooke Haskell have been the top hitters recently.
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It turns out Lawrence’s 7-2 extra-inning loss to Bangor on April 30 was not a flash in the pan, but a turning point. The Bulldogs are 3-2 since that game and the two losses were 4-0 to undefeated Brewer and 4-3 to 10-1 Messalonskee. Sarah Martin, who has assumed the role of the No. 1 pitcher, hasn’t been overpowering, but keeps the Bulldogs in every game.
“They’ve just decided that they’re going to be mentally locked in,” Lawrence coach Joey Marcoux said. “Recently, we haven’t let the mistake cause another one, whereas before, one mistake would become three, and three mistakes would cost us two to five runs. We’re just playing some pretty good, steady ball.”
The Bulldogs are now a legitimate playoff contender in Eastern A. They’re 4-7 and a few points behind Mt. Ararat for the final playoff spot. The Bulldogs have two games remaining with teams below them in the standings (Lewiston and Hampden) and have three left with teams ahead of them (Bangor, Skowhegan, and Erskine).
“I think — and I may be wrong — but it looks like the last game of the season, us vs. Erskine, might be a big one,” Marcoux said.
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Forest Hills is on an upswing of late. The Tigers swept Valley in a doubleheader Tuesday, and a day earlier, earned a sweep over Buckfield. Forest Hills coach Ernie Giroux said he can’t remember the Tigers sweeping Buckfield before.
“About seven years ago, we beat them one game, 12 to 11,” Giroux said. “I’m happy with the way the season’s gone. They’re working hard and it shows.”
Forest Hills has five eighth-graders on its roster and two of them are starters. The hitting has come around, as the Tigers have scored 76 runs over their last four games. Anna Carrier — who had four hits in each game against Forest Hills — Haley Cuddy, Josie Hoyt and Dana McNally are the biggest bats in the lineup.
“They’re really in a groove right now,” Giroux said.
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243