The Erskine Academy softball team’s prospects of reaching the postseason appeared dim as recently as two weeks ago. The Eagles were riding a four-game losing streak and stood at 2-9.

But coach Holly Tripp believed her team had another gear it hadn’t attained yet and told her team that the playoffs were still within reach.

“We hadn’t played our best softball,” Tripp said. “I said, ‘This is a plausible goal,’ and it happened.”

The Eagles won their last five games of the regular season to finish at 7-9. The tournament standings in Eastern Maine Class B have yet to be finalized but as of Wednesday, Erskine stood ninth out of 13 tournament teams.

Tripp attributes the turnaround to a couple of factors. First, the Eagles weren’t at full strength for the first four games. Once they had a full roster, they hit the meat of their schedule and faced several tournament-bound teams. Second, they had a tough time scoring runs.

“After the second Gardiner game, I told them we had stranded over 100 runners and scored 29 runs,” Tripp said. “That’s all we focused on for a really long time.”

Tripp shuffled her batting order a bit and the Eagles began to come up with clutch hits. Leadoff hitter Taylor Boucher “just lit it up,” Tripp said, while Avery Bond, Emma Robertson, and Kaitlyn Sutter have all been key contributors down the stretch and sophomore pitcher Mallory Chamberlain has come up with key strikeouts.

“I think we’re really lucky that everybody’s season starts over with the playoffs,” Tripp said.

• • •

Nokomis was unbeaten until Monday’s 10-inning loss to Gardiner. Incredibly, the loss knocked the Warriors (14-1) into an Eastern B preliminary round game. Nokomis in the No. 4 seed, behind Gardiner (16-0), Old Town (16-0), and Hermon (14-2).

Nokomis coach J.D. McLellan called the game an “eye-opener” for his team, because it showed them what to expect over the next couple weeks.

“I think it was perfect timing for this,” he said. “If it had been at the beginning of the year, I think we would have forgotten about it. They got to see, this is what the playoffs are going to be like — every game.”

In all likelihood, the Warriors will open the playoffs against Belfast. While Nokomis defeated the Lions, 10-0, on Saturday, McLellan doesn’t see that as an easy matchup.

“Our playoffs, if everything goes to plan, is going to Belfast-Oceanside-Gardiner,” McLellan said. “That’s very difficult. Belfast, their pitcher is very good. If they play a quality game, they’re going to be very difficult to beat. Oceanside’s like on a six or seven-game winning streak.”

Oceanside has actually won seven of its last eight, but McLellan’s point remains that there are a lot of good teams in Eastern B. Nokomis was supposed to play Maine Central Institute on Wednesday, but that game was rained out. A win would have put the Warriors in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B championship game against Gardiner, but McLellan said that game was canceled and Gardiner was declared the KVAC champions.

“Friday night is graduation, so it would have to be Friday at noontime if we played,” McLellan said. “Saturday, Gardiner is graduating, so if we played Saturday morning, our girls are coming back from project graduation the night before. It just wouldn’t be feasible.”

• • •

Madison and Winthrop had their Mountain Valley Conference championship game rained out Wednesday, but the schools are going to give it another go today — and another couple goes after that if necessary.

The game Wednesday was scheduled for Thomas College, but if the teams play Thursday, it will be at 3:30 p.m. at Madison, because Madison’s field drains well. If that’s a no-go, the teams will look to play the game Saturday or even Tuesday at a site to be determined.

“I think it’s a fair statement to say that both teams are very excited to be in the game, and are doing everything possible to play the game,” said Madison coach Chris LeBlanc, who is also the school’s athletic director.

Gary Hawkins contributed to this report.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243 |

[email protected] |

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo

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