A young Skowhegan softball team confirmed what its coach, Lee Johnson, already knew with a couple of big wins over the past week. The Indians knocked off Bangor 7-6 on Monday then beat Lewiston 4-1 on Wednesday to jump back into the middle of the Class A North tournament race at 8-5.

“On any given day, anybody can beat anybody,” Johnson said. “It’s a pretty competitive league.”

No team, apparently is immune. Favorite Messalonskee even took a bit of a hit when Oxford Hills played the Eagles to a 1-1 tie on Friday.

Johnson has experimented with his lineup that includes a couple of starting seniors and raft of productive freshmen and it’s beginning to pay off.

“We tried a lot of different combinations early on,” Johnson said. “They’re all growing into their positions right now.”

Johnson has alternated sophomore pitcher Ashley Alward with freshman Sydney Ames in each game. Usually starting with Alward and finishing with Ames.

“It’s working out fairly well,” he said. “Both have a little different style. Sydney comes across more as a power pitcher, but Ashley can surprise you with her velocity. Her delivery is so smooth.”

Ames also has a devastating change-up and when she has it going, she’s very tough to hit. She is one of the team’s leading hitters along with fellow freshmen Sydney Reed and Mailea Kelso.

The Indians currently stand in fifth place in Class A North and are virtually assured of a tournament berth. They finish the season with two games against Mt. Blue and one with Lawrence.

• • •

Carrabec played three of the top teams in the Mountain Valley Conference — Madison, Hall-Dale and Telstar — in its first four games. The Cobras lost all three games, two by a single run, but have since bounced back to win seven of their next eight.

“Our hitting is starting to come around,” said coach Craig Knight, whose Cobras belted Lisbon 19-5 on Wednesday. “Our defense let us down against Telstar and Madison but since then we’ve played well.”

In its other loss to Oak Hill, the Cobras (8-4) had two runers on and the middle of its order coming up when the game was called due to rain.

Sophomore catcher Bailey Dunphy leads the team’s hitters with an average just under .800. Dunphy can run and bunt but also hit for power.

“She’s a great talent,” Knight said. “That kid is a player.”

Senior Liberty Chestnut is hitting near .500 while sophomore Sam LaBeau has been effective on the mound with an earned run average under 2.00.

“She been very consistent,” Knight said. “Not a lot of walks.”

The Cobras will get a chance to avenge two of their losses when they host rival Madison and Hall-Dale in two of their final three games.

• • •

The Richmond softball team extended a little hope to its Class D opponents early in the season when it outlasted Buckfield 13-9. Two games later, the Bobcats needed to rally to defeat Class C Sacopee Valley 4-3. Since then they’ve cruised. They defeated Buckfield 14-2 in the rematch this week to run their win streak over three-plus seasons to 61 games.

“The girls are crushing the ball,” coach Tony Martin said. “They’re a lot more focused now.”

The three-time defending state champions were a heavy favorite in Class D South based on their returning players and are living up to their preseason billing. They have the top two pitchers in the conference in junior Meranda Martin and sophomore Sydney Tilton, who are also two of the leagues top hitters.

Coach Martin alternates the pair and each presents problems.

“Meranda’s junk works a little better,” Coach Martin said. “Sydney’s a little faster.”

When one pitches, the other catches and Coach Martin said they’re a little stronger defensively with Tilton behind the plate. The infield with Cassie Harriman at first, Camryn Hurley at second, Kaylah Patterson at short and Kelsea Anair at third, is rock solid and one of the team’s strengths. Outfielders Autumn Acord and Caitlyn Kendrick are also hitting well.

Richmond is carrying 17 players in all and is thankful the school can field a junior varsity team this year for the first time since 2009. That gives everyone a chance to play, especially his starters who have played in several games shortened by the 12-run mercy rule.

• • •

Hall-Dale has proven itself a contender when senior Becca Ackerman is on the mound. She recently missed three games due to a muscle strain and the Bulldogs (8-4) lost two of those.

“(Wednesday) was one of her better games all year,” coach Steve Acedo said of Hall-Dale’s 14-1 win against Mt. Abram. “She had some snap on the ball.”

Ackerman dropped a pair of 1-0 decisions so far, one of those a one-hitter against Oak Hill and the other to unbeaten Madison.

Ackerman is averaging double digit strikeouts this year and is starting to get some run support. Senior Haley Houdlette and freshmen Alyssa Bonenfant and Isabella Marino are swinging hot bats.

“When she’s on the mound, you’ve got a fighting chance to win some games,” Acedo said.

The Bulldogs are third in the Class C South standings with big games remaining against Oak Hill and Carrabec.

• • •

Cony lost a key player Friday when junior center fielder Jamie Coull broke her ankle sliding into third base.

“It was a muddy day,” Cony coach Rocky Gaslin said. “Her cleat got stuck in the mud and she broke her ankle in two spots.”

Sophomore Haley Ward has moved into center and made two nice plays against Bangor on Wednesday. Gaslin has also called up a pair of freshmen, Gaby McGuire and Brooklyn Belanger, from the junior varsity squad.


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