Gardiner coach Ginger Shaw tried to recall the last time the school’s softball team was undefeated this late in the season.

“I believe it was 1986,” she said. “That was my junior year.”

The Tigers are now 8-0 following Wednesday’s 3-1 win against Winslow and excelling in every phase of the game.

“Honestly, I was hoping it would happen,” Shaw said. “I know we have a lot of quality ballplayers. We basically have the same nucleus of kids.”

The Tigers went 10-8 last season in Eastern Maine Class B and reached the tournament, but this year’s team has found that elusive quality — chemistry.

“This year they’re really meshing together,” Shaw said. “There’s no negativity. It really is a breath of fresh air.”

Senior captains Kylee Granholm, Taylor Banister and Stephanie Plourde have set the tone for the season, on and off the field. Granholm plays center field and Banister third base while Plourde catches.

“All three of those seniors are priceless,” Shaw said. “Each one brings something separate to the game.”

The lineup is a mixture of youth and experience. Sophomore Lilly Chepke plays short while freshman Bri Brochu is at second. Sophomore Kristal Smith and junior Brittany Rollins split duties between first base and pitcher as they did last year.

“I think this year they’re hitting their spots better,” Shaw said. “Last year it was 80 percent. Now when we call a pitch it’s there.”

Banister is leading the team in hitting while Granholm and Brochu both have high on-base averages, but Shaw said everyone throughout the lineup is contributing.

“There are those kids that somehow, some way get it done,” she said.

There are tests ahead for the Tigers. They play at 7-2 Medomak Valley today and at unbeaten Oceanside on May 17.

“We have to tweak a few things,” Shaw said. “We’re not satisfied.”

• • •

Cony has been largely untested this season, but the Rams will face four quality opponents over the final eight games, beginning with today’s home game against Skowhegan (7-2).

“I know they’re a good hitting club and they have some decent pitching,” Cony coach Rocky Gaslin said. “They’re all-around tough and well-coached.”

Wednesday, the Rams travel to Oxford Hills, a team they beat in extra innings, then host once beaten Messalonskee next Friday. They finish the season with a game at unbeaten Brewer.

“We’ve got four out of eight games that will be a good test for us,” Gaslin said. “I’m looking forward to it, too.”

The best pitching Cony (8-0) has faced has come in practice against senior Sonja Morse and sophomore Arika Brochu. Those two are also leading the team in hitting. Morse is batting .613 with five home runs and 18 RBIs.

“She’s seeing the ball a little better this year,” Gaslin said. “She’s a little stronger and all the extra work she did over the winter (has helped).”

Brochu is hitting .538 with two home runs, including one that hit the road about 50 feet beyond the fence at Cony Family Field.

“She’s strong and has good technique,” Gaslin said.

The Rams have 11 home runs — last season they hit 22 — and Gaslin sees two advantages to the long ball, “scoring runs quickly and it is a psychological advantage.”

• • •

Maranacook improved to 3-6 and avenged an earlier loss with a 10-8 win against Waterville on Wednesday. Senior Jessie Smith had a pair of doubles and a home run in the game to pace the Black Bears.

“She really broke out (Wednesday),” Maranacook coach Don Beckwith said. “It’s her fourth game back. She had her knee scoped 18 days ago.”

The Black Bears graduated dominating pitcher Sarah Boynton and senior Ashley Belanger has taken over.

“We haven’t supported her very well as far as our hitting,” Beckwith said. “That’s been our weakness. She got some key strikeouts (Wednesday) to stop the bleeding.”

Maranacook has also fallen victim to the occasional bad inning. Against Waterville, they allowed five runs in one inning after two were out.

“We’re getting better,” Beckwith said. “A lot of teams haven’t beaten us, we’re beaten ourselves.”

• • •

Monmouth is making progress. The Mustangs defeated St. Dominic on Wednesday and are now a game under .500 at 3-4.

“We still have quite a bit of the core from the defense we had last year,” Monmouth coach Rachel Bernier said. “It’s a matter of having enough quality practice time. We only have 12 kids. When you’re missing a few bodies, it’s difficult.”

The Mustangs graduated strikeout pitcher Reen Kahl and have replaced her with a combination of junior Paxton Lessard and sophomore Becky Bryant. The offense has been inconsistent although freshman Mikayla Cunliffe went 4 for 4 recently and was moved to the cleanup spot. Kylie Kemp and Daisi Poole have also contributed.

Bernier said her team has to be on its game at all times to be successful and reach the postseason.

“We don’t have that dominating pitcher,” she said. “If you’re not doing it with the bat, do it with the defense.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]

 

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