The University of Maine at Farmington softball team were picked to finish fifth in the North Atlantic Conference — providing the Beavers could actually play any of their games — this season.
Now that the regular season is over, UMF has earned a top-three seed in the NAC tournament. The Beavers went 10-4 in the conference, including the league’s only two victories against No. 1 Husson (12-2).
UMF’s season was short, but sweet. After finishing 5-9, 6-10, and 7-9 in conference play over the last three seasons, the Beavers improved in all areas. Due to the weather, they also played 18 games in an 11-day span. While that’s a lot, UMF coach Cyndi Pratt said it helped get the players into a rhythm after a preseason of waiting.
“The mental part of the game, we’re all in the right place right now, so that certainly helps,” Pratt said.
UMF’s two pitchers are sophomore Emily Soule (Cony) and freshman Courtney Fowler (Maine Central Institute). Soule was the ace last year, and is 7-2 with a 2.25 ERA in conference play. Fowler (3-1, 3.42 in NAC games) was an unknown a few months ago.
“She didn’t even go to school here last semester,” Pratt said. “She went to the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She certainly has been a very pleasant surprise. She has pitched some really big innings for us.”
Pratt said the defense is also better, and UMF is hitting .336 overall and .325 in the conference. Cony grad Amy Jones (.418), Kennadi Grover (.411), Soule (.404), Shelby Bryant (.403), and Katie Clark (.392) are the top hitters. Even behind them, Jillian Withee (Mt. Abram) and Meryl Bond (Erskine) are close to .300 in conference games.
“A lot of people are contributing to it right now,” Pratt said. “The depth of our lineup certainly is a strength of ours. We’ve got some experienced hitters at the bottom of our lineup who have the potential to be very good hitters.”
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Thomas will join UMF in the NAC softball playoffs, which is a six-team, double-elimination format that runs Friday through Sunday at Husson University. The Terriers are 7-6-1 in the NAC and have two players who are as good as anyone in shortstop Alyssa Eugley and pitcher Kelsey Crowe.
Eugley, a Sidney native and Messalonskee grad, is hitting .398 this spring. Although she stands 5 foot 2, Eugley has six home runs, giving her a slugging percentage of .714.
Eugley has been particularly devastating of late. She’s hit in each of her last 13 games, and has an average of .490 with five home runs and two strikeouts during the streak.
Crowe, meanwhile, has recovered from a broken foot that caused her to miss all of last season and is 4-3 with a 1.76 ERA in the conference. She also not hitting like someone who’s recovering from a broken foot, as her NAC statistics show a .424 average, three homers and 12 RBI in 13 games.
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The University of Southern Maine men’s tennis team has won 12 consecutive matches and finished the regular season undefeated in the Little East Conference. The Huskies have a Little East tournament match on Thursday.
Two local players — Monmouth’s Corey Dyke and Mt. Blue’s Thaddeus St. John — have played a big part in that success. St. John, a Weld native, is 11-2 in singles play and has won 10 consecutive singles matches. He’s also 5-0 in doubles matches.
Dyke is 4-1 at singles and 11-2 at doubles. USM has won each of its last five matches by 9-0 scores.