MADISON — Game plans are seldom altered during pregame infield warm-ups, but any coach watching Madison catcher Aly LeBlanc whistle throws to second or third has to have second thoughts about taking chances on the bases.

It’s tough to imagine any high school softball catcher in the state with a stronger throwing arm.

“I had a strong arm in junior high,” LeBlanc said. “I was one of the bigger, stronger kids.”

LeBlanc worked to get even stronger once she hit high school, both through the school’s weight-training program, improved nutrition and a lot of practice.

“Each year she would practice (throwing),” her father and coach Chris LeBlanc said. “She’d take a bucket of balls in the yard and try to hit a bucket 87 feet away (the distance to second base).”

LeBlanc is one of three seniors on the team, along with strong-armed shortstop Kayla Bess and first baseman Erin Whalen, all of whom have the same goal: To win a Class C state championship. LeBlanc was behind the plate when the Bulldogs won it all in 2014 and is confident this year’s team can bring another gold ball to town. The Bulldogs were 9-0 entering Friday’s game at Wiscasset, having avenged a loss Monday with a 3-1 win over Telstar, the team that beat them last year in the regional final.


LeBlanc has participated in soccer, cross country and basketball at Madison but three years ago began focusing year-round on softball. She plays for the Maine Thunder during the summer and is a regular visitor to Maine Hits, a training facility in Scarborough. That’s where she met Katie Burkhart, an All-American pitcher at Arizona State and the 2008 MVP of the College World Series.

Burkhart, living in Tennessee, still makes occasional trips to Maine, but the two stay in touch via e-mail or phone.

“I talk with her on almost a weekly basis,” LeBlanc said. “She’s kind of my mentor.”

LeBlanc has caught Burkhart, who can still touch 70 mph on the radar gun, and has a a good idea of what it’s like to catch a top-notch pitcher.

“The first time I caught her I was very nervous but you get used to it,” LeBlanc said. “She was very efficient and has a lot of different pitches.”

Burkhart helped LeBlanc formulate a plan to reach out to various colleges, about 30 in all. Because she has Raynaud’s syndrome, a disease that restricts blood flow to the skin when it gets cold, LeBlanc was determined to play college softball in a warmer climate. She found a great fit at Augusta University in Georgia, a Division II school, that awarded her a scholarship.


“I put myself out to multiple schools to find the school that worked for me athletically and academically,” LeBlanc said. “It was a perfect fit. I want to major in nutrition with a PA (physician’s assistant) track.”

Just as she’s more than just a strong-armed catcher, LeBlanc is more than just an athlete. She’s the school’s salutatorian and sets a strong example for her fellow students on and off the field.

“I’ve known her my whole life,” Whalen said. “She always stood out when we were younger. She definitely has worked hard for it. She’s just a great leader and has a great attitude.”

LeBlanc got off to a slow start at the plate this season but has her average up to .450 while leading the team in doubles and triples. Last year, she hit nearly .500 and was named Mountain Valley Conference Player of the Year. In Monday’s win against Telstar, she doubled off the top of the fence into a strong wind to drive in a pair of runs.

“She’s a very good defensive catcher,” Telstar coach Jim Lunney said. “Good arm, good team leader. Her bat’s coming around a little bit. She’s got power.”

Hitting against superior pitching is one of LeBlanc’s goals before she reports to college next fall. She’s played with two of the state’s best in York’s Stephanie Runlett, who is headed to Fordham next fall and Messalonskee’s Kirsten Pelletier, who will play for Bates.

“I definitely have to work on getting a lot of at-bats against very good pitchers,” she said.

LeBlanc began playing in high school for Al Veneziano, who installed her as starting catcher her freshman year. For the past three years and during her youth softball days, she’s played for her dad.

“It’s definitely a challenge playing for my dad,” she said. “He has very high expectations for me.”

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