BY GARY HAWKINS

Staff Writer

Cony High School catcher Nicole Rugan has seen some of the best pitching in the state from her position behind the plate this season.

Junior Sonja Morse has allowed four earned runs this season while freshman Arika Brochu has given up just one for the Rams, who are 12-0 and on top of Eastern Maine Class A standings. Between them, they’ve fanned 116 batters and walked 32.

“Sonja has more speed and she throws a screwball and a rise,” Rugan said. “And her changeup is really good. Arika still has that speed and throws a rise and a drop. When those are on they’re really good. Arika has great placement, Sonja has great speed.”

Rugan calls the pitches and usually has a good game plan.

“We know who to pitch where,” she said. “If we haven’t seen them, Coach (Rocky Gaslin) has. We mix high, low, inside, outside.”

The Rams are outscoring their opponents 157-10 so far and have six players batting over .500, led by Rugan at .610. Of the senior’s 27 hits this season, 16 have gone for extra bases, including five home runs, six doubles and five triples.

“Everything’s a line drive,” Gaslin said of Rugan. “She can hit to all fields, she can hit with power. It’s fun to watch.”

Rugan said she’s bigger and stronger than she was a year ago and she’s benefited from working both with current Mt. Blue coach Paul Rodrigue and Cony assistant Ray Beaudoin.

“I’m definitely more relaxed,” she said. “I’m not trying to kill the ball.”

Rugan plans to play field hockey at Division II St. Anselm but Gaslin has already put in a word about her with the school’s softball coach.

“We’ll see how it works out,” Rugan said.

The Rams face some tough opponents down the stretch, including Oxford Hills today, Erskine and Bangor.

“We need it,” Gaslin said.

Now in her fourth year, Rugan said this is the best team she’s played with.

“It is by far the best team, with chemistry, everything,” she said.

The Rams played defending state champion Scarborough in a preseason doubleheader and split with the Red Storm. Rugan hit a home run off ace Mo Hannon in a 2-1 victory.

“I’ve been facing her since I was 9 years old,” she said. “It was a good feeling.”

• • •

Senior pitcher Reen Kahl and Monmouth are on a roll. Kahl threw a no-hitter last Wednesday against Hall-Dale and followed that with a one-hit shutout against previously unbeaten Madison on Friday. The Mustangs were 8-0 and in first place before Wednesday’s action in the Western Maine Class C standings.

“In the offseason she did a lot of core conditioning and training,” Monmouth coach Rachel Bernier said. “She’s really a stronger athlete than she has been in previous years.”

Kahl struck out eight and walked one against Hall-Dale.

“I would say she’s the hardest thrower and she locates the best we’ve seen” Hall-Dale coach Christen Lachapelle said.

In a 1-0 win against Madison, Kahl fanned 11 and didn’t issue a walk. She also doubled in the bottom of the seventh inning and scored the winning run.

“This year the focus point has been to minimize (walks),” Bernier said. “She is a dominating force on the mound.”

The Mustangs play three of their last five games at home, including a tough date at Spruce Mountain on May 25.

“Everybody wants to come after the No. 1 seed,” Bernier said. “It’s not a safe position. The opportunity is there as well. We’ve got to take care of business.”

• • •

Hall-Dale is 6-5 heading into a key game at home Friday against once-beaten Madison. Hall-Dale has leaned more to freshman Olivia Maynard on the mound while junior Laura Allen is playing left field.

“Olivia Maynard has stepped in nicely as one of our starting pitchers,” Hall-Dale coach Christen Lachapelle said. “Laura Allen, one of the leaders on our team, pitched a lot last year and is playing more left field.”

Lachapelle said her Bulldogs have tightened up defensively and expect to play much better than they did in Monday’s 11-6, seven error loss in Madison. Senior Carylanne Wolfington leads the team in hitting with an average above .500, but didn’t hit her first home run of the season until last week against Carrabec.

“It was probably one of her better swings of the season,” Lachapelle said. “She’s working on her swing and doing her best to be a more patient hitter. She’s looking to hit behind the runner and get the ball on the ground.”

 

• • •

Richmond got the test it was looking for when it beat Class C Sacopee Valley 3-0 in Hiram on Tuesday.

“It was a great game,” Richmond coach Rick Coughlin said. “The defenses for both teams played very well.”

Senior Leandra Martin pitched the shutout, the sixth of the season for the Bobcats (9-0). Junior Jamie Plummer pitched a game for Richmond this season, but has had arm problems and may stay at first base.

“Defensively, we’re so much better with Plummer at first and Martin pitching,” Coughlin said.

The team is hitting well with Danica Hurley and Ciarra Lancaster both over .500 and Lindsy Hoopingarner and Bri Snedker over .400. Coughlin said a decision not to use a pitching machine this season has helped. Instead, assistant Tony Martin is throwing to hitters from close range.

“It’s really done a great job for us because the machine was so erratic,” he said.

The Bobcats face one more test against Sacopee at home next Tuesday.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]


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