In mid-April, 2010, Kaitlyn Bartlett was a nervous freshman on the University of Maine at Farmington softball team when she stepped into the batter’s box at Husson for the first game of a doubleheader.

“It was nerve-wracking, going up there and facing one of the best teams in the conference,” Bartlett said.

By the end of the day, Bartlett still may have been nervous, but she also was known as one of the top power hitters in the North Atlantic Conference. Bartlett hit a home run in each game, and neither was of the just-scrape-over-the-wall variety. Each blast left no doubt that it was going to land far, far, away.

“Those were two of the longest home runs I’ve ever seen. (Husson’s) coach said the same thing,” UMF softball coach Cyndi Pratt said. “She had been platooning a little bit, but after that game, I was convinced she had to be in the lineup every day.”

Now a senior, Bartlett, a Mt. Blue High School graduate, is nearing the end of her college softball career. When it ends, the Chesterville native will be remembered as one of the top hitters in UMF softball history. Along with a career batting average of .385, Bartlett has 20 home runs, 84 runs batted in, and 66 runs scored.

Bartlett is currently ranked second in the NAC in home runs (4), and third in the conference in batting average (.415). She also has 14 runs batted in and 12 runs scored. UMF was 9-8 heading into Tuesday’s non-conference doubleheader at Bowdoin. The Beavers are 6-6 in North Atlantic Conference games and in fifth place in the conference.

The Beavers close the regular season with four conference games, hosting Maine Maritime for two games Friday, then playing a pair at Husson on Saturday.

“Since she’s been here, she’s hit in the 3-4-5 spots,” Pratt said. “She’s always probably been our best hitter.”

Becoming a complete hitter, rather than just a slugger, is something Bartlett knew she had to work on coming out of Mt. Blue.

“I wasn’t as successful as I could have been in high school,” Bartlett said. “I have more confidence from working on (hitting)… I think I’ve become a better selective hitter. I try to have better at bats.”

Bartlett’s drive to become more patient at the plate is working. She leads the Beavers with seven walks, and her .529 on base percentage is third-best in the league.

“She doesn’t chase bad pitches. She has a good eye for the strike zone,” Pratt said.

This season, Bartlett began playing a new position, first base, as well as serving as the Beavers’ designated player.

“It’s been a big adjustment. The only time I’d played first was in an exhibition game against Colby indoors,” Bartlett said. “It’s the stuff that comes after the play, like knowing where to throw the ball. It’s a lot more than just having the ball thrown to you.”

Added Pratt: “She’s really helped us in the field. She’s given us a lot of confidence in her at first base.”

A secondary education/math major, Bartlett is working as a long term substitute math teacher at Cony High School in Augusta while she finishes her course load this semester. Bartlett is teaching algebra and geometry.

“I love every minute of it,” Bartlett said.

A key to the Beavers’ success as they approach the playoffs, is to continue improving on defense, Bartlett said.

“Hitting we’re OK, but fielding is something we need to work on,” she said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242
[email protected]

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