Madison softball coach Chris LeBlanc said his team’s philosophy after a game is that you can’t change anything that happened earlier that day. That got a test Tuesday when Madison lost its first game of the season, 2-0 to Telstar.
“To the players, we said, â€˜OK, that one’s done. We’ve got a doubleheader tomorrow at Wiscasset. I want to see how we rebound,'” Madison coach Chris LeBlanc said. “The biggest thing is the ability to bounce back and how you’re going to respond in the next game.”
Madison responded with a doubleheader sweep of Wiscasset, 9-1 and 16-4.
“We did what we needed to do to win two games,” LeBlanc said.
Telstar has one of the Mountain Valley Conference’s top pitchers in Jessica Dirago. Both she and Madison’s Emily McKenney finished with two hits allowed and 10 strikeouts.
“We knew going in that if their pitcher was on — and she was — that it was going to be a close game,” LeBlanc said. “We realized that we need to go back — and we will (Thursday) in practice — and revisit the fundamentals.”
LeBlanc thought the Telstar game was valuable for a couple reasons. One, Madison was undefeated in the regular season last year, and there was an expectation that the Bulldogs would cruise to another unbeaten season. Those expectations put pressure on players who weren’t on the roster or were in different roles last spring.
“It almost lets us re-focus, take the pressure off,” LeBlanc said.
The other benefit was simply the act of taking part in a competitive game. The Bulldogs have won games by scores of 27-0, 16-0, and 22-3 this year.
“When you’re scoring 28, 22 runs, you have a tendency to not play the way you need to in low-scoring games,” LeBlanc said. “You learn nothing in those (games). If anything, you create bad habits.”
That’s why LeBlanc likes the schedule for next week: Three games to end the regular season, against Winthrop, Carrabec, and Oak Hill. All three are quality opponents who can compete with Madison.
“We’ve got three tough games ahead of us,” LeBlanc said. “I’m glad that we do, because that will get us ready for the playoffs.”
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After finishing 0-13 last season and starting 0-5 this spring, Valley picked up its first two wins of the season by sweeping Highview Christian on Wednesday.
“It was a real morale-booster for them,” Valley coach Scott Laweryson said. “They feel like they accomplished something.”
Even before those wins there were encouraging signs for the Cavaliers. Valley nearly beat Forest Hills, dropping a heartbreaker in nine innings. The Cavaliers were down only 4-0 to Richmond after five innings on Tuesday, after years of losing to the Bobcats by the mercy rule.
“They tasted a little bit of â€˜they might be able to do something’ so they’ve been working a little harder,” Laweryson said. “It’s a fun game when you’re actually in the game.”
Teagan Laweryson, Scott’s daughter, has been throwing better in the circle this season and fired a no-hitter against Highview Christian. Offensively, Laweryson, Kirsten Mathieu, Charlie Savoy, and Hallie Miller have been the offensive leaders.
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Rangeley has been young and inconsistent this spring. The Lakers lost twice to Buckfield, by scores of 4-1 and 21-0. They lost 4-1 to undefeated Richmond, but twice by a total of 29 runs to 5-6 Forest Hills.
“I will say (Tuesday) was the first day I had my entire team at a game, so that makes a difference,” Rangeley coach Ashley Quimby said. “They should all be at the rest of the games. It’s hard when you’re moving players around every game. People can’t get used to a spot.”
Senior Shortstop Tori Letarte missed the Forest Hills doubleheader after having her wisdom teeth removed, and Quimby said the Lakers missed Letarte’s leadership as much as anything.
Rangeley is 1-6 but still in fifth place in Western D, where the top six teams qualify for the playoffs. The close loss to Richmond showed that the Lakers can play with anyone.
“We played an unreal game against Richmond,” Quimby said. “The beginning of the year, we were not focused. We didn’t look like we were ready to play. If I look out there and see nine players ready to play, then we’re all set.”
That’s what Quimby saw on Tuesday against Vinalhaven. The Lakers split a doubleheader, winning the first game 3-2 behind a 13-strikeout performance by Taylor Esty.
And that’s what Quimby wants to see the rest of the season. With Letarte and catcher Blayke Morin starring, Rangeley is set at two key defensive positions. The Lakers have two games remaining with Valley and Greenville, and one game with Richmond.
“I just want to see that team that I saw (Tuesday) the rest of the games,” Quimby said. “If I see that team, I know we’re going to be in good shape.”