Spring is in the air!
For Cyndi Pratt, the softball coach at the University of Maine at Farmington, the only thing that has sprung are the nerves of her players as they wait to finally play outside. The Beavers are scheduled to end their regular season on April 26, and are scheduled for their home opener on Wednesday. Asked to estimate how many inches of snow are on UMF’s field, Pratt paused and said, “We probably should measure it in feet.”
That “home” opener, a doubleheader against New England College, has been moved to Gordon College in Wenham, Mass. — about a three-hour drive one-way from Farmington. Pratt’s not complaining about that, though.
“We’ll take anything with grass and dirt right now,” she said. “I don’t know if the snow’s much different this year. It just hasn’t warmed up.”
Massachusetts is still waiting for its heat wave, so Gordon’s field isn’t guaranteed to be ready, either. Pratt said the decision on whether to play will be made at about 8 a.m., Wednesday.
UMF is on break this week, making it much less of an inconvenience for the students to travel for a game. The Beavers return most of the team that finished 7-9 in the North Atlantic Conference last season.
“I’m very encouraged,” Pratt said. “I think we have a lot of talent on our team. I think everyone’s anxious to see it outdoors, where you can catch fly balls and play on dirt.”
The Beavers enter the season with nine freshmen on their roster, and Pratt expects some to contribute this year.
“It will be interesting once we get to see live pitching,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing them play in games.”
Sophomore Emily Soule, a Chelsea native and Cony High School graduate, is UMF’s only returning pitcher. But Soule was the ace last year, going 6-5 with a 2.04 ERA and completing 11 of her 12 starts.
“Our preseason, (she) has looked really strong,” Pratt said. “Just having a year of college ball under her belt, she’s that much more confident. Probably the expectations are higher than last year, but she’s ready for that.”
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The Thomas women’s lacrosse season has also been affected by weather, even though the Terriers began their season on March 8 and have already played six games.
“So far, it’s been a little bit of a slow start,” Thomas coach Lauren Bickford said. “As far as chemistry on and off the field, it still looks like a promising season.”
The Terriers are 2-4, with recent losses to Regis and the University of New England in which they fell behind early but played evenly the rest of the way.
“It definitely takes some adjusting, getting out on the field,” Bickford said. “It’s definitely a challenge, but my starting defenders, they’re all the same from last year. So it’s really kind of refreshing their memory quickly before the game starts, so we can get right into it.”
Thomas begins its six-game North Atlantic Conference schedule at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday against Husson. The Eagles are playing under co-interim head coaches Penny White and Emily Child.
“From what I’ve heard from other coaches and looking at the stats, they’re really coming on strong, especially for losing their head coach this season,” Bickford said. “They have some people stepping up. We know that we need to shut down those top shooters and play our game.”
Messalonskee grad Miranda Tinsman (20 goals), Gardiner grad Jennifer Day (14) and Brittany Premo (12) are the top scorers for the Terriers. Thomas has added some depth to its attack this spring. Freshman Sophia LaVallee of Pawling, N.Y. has started all six games and scored three goals as a midfielder. Senior Katlyn Cash, after playing a low defender position in the past, is now a high attacker and also has three goals.
“We already have two other low defenders,” Bickford said. “It’s a position that doesn’t need too much subbing, so we figured we could utilize them more effectively this way.”
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On Saturday, Waterville native Nick Danner competed in his first collegiate event, as he represented the University of Rhode Island men’s track and field team at the UConn Invitational. Danner won his first collegiate event, heaving the javelin 197 feet, 2 inches.
Danner, a freshman, qualified for both the IC4A and USA Junior National Championships with his performance. He was also named the Atlantic 10 Outdoor Track & Field Rookie of the Week.