Colby College softball hit .190 as a team last year and was outscored by nearly three runs per game. This year’s coach, Robin Penoyer, first made her mark on softball as a pitcher, but also still wants to address those numbers.

“Ninety percent of fly balls are outs, so I don’t want to see you lifting the ball. I want to see you drive through the ball,” Penoyer said. “I don’t want it to be mini-baseball. I want it to be fast-pitch softball. We’re going to play the short game — we’re going to try to, anyway.”

Penoyer is the interim coach at Colby. Kristina Katori is on medical leave this season and is listed as “Head Coach on leave” on Colby’s website.

In high school, Penoyer once threw seven consecutive no-hitters. In college, she helped Minnesota to the Big Ten title in 1991. Still, even though the weather in Minnesota is much closer to Waterville than the Bahamas, the spring schedule wasn’t compressed like it is in central Maine.

“We had a tournament in the Metrodome in January, and then we would go south every weekend in February, and spring break we were south,” Penoyer said. “So we did a lot of traveling.”

Colby (7-19 last year) has 10 games March 22-27 in Clermont, Fla., then is scheduled to plays its home opener March 31 against the University of New England. The last game is April 25 — three and a half weeks later.

With a schedule like that, you need deep pitching. Colby returns Megan Michie, who threw a little more than half of the team’s innings last spring and went 5-10 with a 4.50 ERA. Penoyer hopes Robin Spofford can also see more time in the circle.

“I think it’s going to be OK,” Penoyer said. “Are we going to be crazy overpowering at this point? No. We have a really great freshman coming in, but we need to work on some things. I think Mich, she’s going to do a great job. I’m finding her, actually, stepping up and making things happen. She’s worked really hard for me. And I think you’re going to see Robin Spofford on the mound a little bit. She’s really coming along. She pitched a few innings in our little practice scrimmage the other day, and she did well.”

The Mules finished 1-11 in the New England Small College Athletic Conference last spring and hit .155 as a team in conference games. Of course, to change that first number, Colby has to change that second, but Penoyer sees the potential to do that.

“I think they’re coming together pretty well,” Penoyer said. “They’re working really hard for me. It’s a great bunch, because I don’t have to push really hard. I don’t have to raise my voice, or force things. What’s been wonderful about it is they want to learn. I think our infield’s going to be really strong. I don’t think our outfield’s going to be that bad, either. I just don’t know who I’m going to put where exactly out there yet.”

• • •

In a recent writeup on its men’s basketball website, the University of Maine at Augusta listed a dozen different types of community service — everything from volunteering at a kindergarten class to helping organize UMA fundraisers.

All of those were done by Keith Chesley.

Chesley, a Clinton native and Lawrence High School graduate, was recently named the USCAA Men’s Division II National Student-Athlete of the Year. According to Kevin Wegman at the USCAA, this is the first year the organization gave that award.

“What makes it so important is they excel on the court and off the court — especially off the court,” said Wegman, the USCAA’s Senior Administrator of Sports Information and Media Relations.

Wegman said Chelsey was chosen by an award committee, and was presented the award at the banquet for the USCAA men’s and women’s basketball national tournaments in Pennsylvania.

Chesley is a two-time academic All-American at UMaine-Augusta, and scored 674 points this season to set a new UMA single-season record. On the season, Chesley averaged 24.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game.

• • •

Colby will be represented later this week at the NCAA Division III Track and Field championships in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Waterville native Jeff Hale is competing in the men’s 5,000-meter run on Friday evening. Hale is seeded 10th out of 15 runners. His teammate, Brian Sommers, is the No. 6 seed in the 400-meter dash. The prelims are Friday afternoon, and the top eight race in the final on Saturday.

On the women’s side, Colby’s 1,600-meter relay team of Emily Doyle, Michaela Athanasopoulos, McKayla Blanch and Emily Tolman are the 12th and final seed. That race is set for 5 p.m., Friday.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo

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