Senior pitcher Meranda Martin was a bit of a surprise when she shut down her opponent in the state title game her freshman year. She’s no longer a surprise. Since that time Martin and her teammates have won two more Class D state championship and are the odds-on favorites to win the school’s fifth straight this spring.

Martin has never lost a game at Richnond which is currently riding a state-record 70-game win streak. On one hand she cherishes the streak and on the other puts it into perspective.

“It does mean a lot,” she said. “Not many people get to experience that in their high school careers. What matters most is if we’re having fun and trying our hardest to win another state championship.”

Junior Sydney Tilton joined Martin two years ago and together they’re torn up Class D. Martin finished at 11-0 and batted .539 while Tilton went 6-0 on the mound and hit .503 with 18 extra base hits. The pair have alternated at pitcher and catcher the past two seasons but this year may play in the infield to shore up the defense.

Coach Tony Martin hopes senior Camryn Hurley can overcome a knee injury and catch and there are some good returning hitters in Cassidy Harriman and Caitlin Kendrick.

“Our bats might be a little bit lighter that last year,” he said, “but we’ve got some strong hitters.

The Bobcats will face a couple of tough teams in their first two games when they host Vinalhaven and travel to Class C Sacopee Valley.

“I think we’re going to be as strong (as last year) in different situations,” Coach Martin said. “Mentally we’re going to be a little bit younger.”

At the other end of the spectrum, Temple Academy made its first appearance in the playoffs last season in just its second MPA-sanctioned season. The Bereans have a good core back and plan on getting another taste of the postseason.

All nine players in last year’s starting lineup are back.

“It’s exciting,” Temple coach Kim Feugill said. “The team knows what to expect this year.”

Kiara Carr is back at catcher after leading the team in hitting a year ago, and freshman Delaney Carr worked with a pitching coach during the offseason to develop into a more well-rounded pitcher after a full varsity season as an eighth grader.

The teams at Valley and Forest Hills are both hoping to make the Class D South playoffs, and each is relying on veteran batteries to provide stability.

Forest Hills has seniors Caitlin Logston and Patricia Lessard poised for big senior seasons, and the Tigers have good numbers out for the program.

Logston has been the team’s top pitcher since her eighth grade season.

But, Forest Hills will have to get outside sooner rather than later to start working some new faces up to speed.

“(Caitlin)’s been workng with younger kids to help develop more pitchers for this year and next,” Forest Hills coach Jean Turner said. “I’m reall hoping to be able to give her a break instead of pitching her through doubleheaders this season.”

Valley’s 1-15 record a season ago is misleading: The Cavaliers lost a slew of one-run games, including two by walk-off as their offense struggled to support pitcher Michaela Marden.

This year, head coach Erin Marden thinks Valley could contend with a number of returning starters who now have experience to combine with their athleticism.

“I think we have to be a really aggressive team to stay in this,” Erin Marden said. “Pitching is the least of my concerns, but I think we can finish with more offense than we had last year. One of my focuses as coach is to manufacture those extra runs so that one run here or there doesn’t cost us those walk-offs.”

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