As snow keeps pounding Maine into March, several area college teams have made their plans to get away.

Some even got to miss the weather altogether.

The Colby College and Thomas College and the University of Maine at Farmington baseball and softball teams are all heading to or already in Florida, while the Thomas men’s tennis team is in Hilton Head, South Carolina to get its competitive season underway.

It might look like a vacation — it does take place during break, after all — but for the teams that travel, it’s not a pleasure trip. The games count, and the teams approach them that way.

“They work extremely hard, and they prepare well for the trip,” Colby baseball coach Dale Plummer said. “You’re going down there to win some games.”

Some teams have already left. UMF softball plays its last game in Clermont on Thursday while baseball is in Auburndale through Friday, and Thomas men’s tennis played its first game in South Carolina on Sunday and plays its last game there on Friday.

Thomas baseball and softball, meanwhile, get to Auburndale and Clermont, respectively, next Monday and play their last games in Florida on March 28. Colby baseball and softball only get a week in the Sunshine State, with baseball opening in Auburndale on March 24 and closing in Winter Haven on March 30 and softball starting in Clermont on March 25 and closing there on March 30.

The trips can be grinds — Colby softball, for instance, plays 10 games in five days, while Thomas baseball will play 13 in nine days and have four doubleheaders.

“A lot of people think that when we go to Florida it’s more of a vacation,” Thomas baseball coach Greg King said. “It’s without question an acclamation process. … One of the things that I liked that my captains did this year was they actually had a first-year player meeting, and they told everybody what it was going to be like.

“The first-year kids are all excited about going on the spring trip, and by Day 2 or 3 they’re completely wiped out.”

The games serve both as a way to add to the regular season, an impossibility otherwise given Maine’s lingering winter weather, and to get a better sense for the team and the players’ capabilities that could pay off later in the year. They also give teams a chance to break up the monotony of indoor practices and drills.

“It’s good match experience for our guys,” interim Thomas tennis coach Rob Disch said. “Practice gets stale after a while. … After a while, the guys are ready to play somebody else and play match points against somebody else rather than the guys they’ve been hitting with the last three weeks.”

There’s not much time available for beachgoing or sightseeing, but the players still enjoy the trip — if only for the asylum from all of this snow.

“These are the times that you remember as a college athlete,” Plummer said. “It’s special to bond with the kids and compete and play for a college baseball program. It’s really exciting stuff, and these guys really look forward to it.”

• • •

The area’s two Mr. and Miss Basketball finalists from last year just finished up their first seasons of college basketball.

One of the finalists, Messalonskee’s Sophie Holmes, wrapped up her freshman year at Franklin Pierce. Holmes started modestly, with double-figure scoring outputs in two of her first 21 games, but finished with a flourish to reach double figures in each of her last four games and average 13.8 points in that stretch.

“In the NE-10, you’re playing the best of the best. … It’s just a higher pace and a higher level,” said Holmes, who averaged 6.3 points and 18.6 minutes per game for the season. “Throughout the season, it was just a big transition for me and getting comfortable with the new offenses and the new team and the new dynamics. In the end, when I became more comfortable in this new setting, it was more natural and I wasn’t thinking so much.”

Part of the learning process was adjusting to new responsibilities. At Messalonskee, Holmes often initiated and finished plays, regularly going coast-to-coast in transition or pulling up for jumpers on the break.

At Franklin Pierce, surrounded by capable scorers, those chances to take over are fewer and further between. But as her stats late showed, she could soon become a key for the Ravens as well.

“It was just getting used to what I need to do to help the team be successful,” she said. “In high school, I had more control.”

• • •

The other finalist, Winthrop’s Jacob Hickey, finished his freshman year with the University of New England. Playing for coach Ed Silva’s Grinnell system, Hickey averaged 2.1 points per game while appearing in 24 of the Nor’easters’ 26 games.

Like Holmes, Hickey said the demands of the next level surprised him early. He also had to adapt to the UNE offense, which features a lot of substitutions, a lot of 3-pointers and a constant fastbreak.

“At five on per minute, it was a lot different than what I was used to,” he said. “In high school I played about 32 minutes a game. … I had to get my body in shape where I could do that and perform well.”

Hickey didn’t play a big role on the Nor’easters this season, and while he said that was something to get used to, he said he kept his focus on being prepared when the team needed him.

“You try to have practice as game-like as possible, so when you do get that opportunity you’re ready for it,” he said. “I wasn’t playing a lot, but when my name was called, I think it was big to always be ready to shoot.”

• • •

The Colby women’s lacrosse team hasn’t gotten off to the best start record-wise, but the Mules are still looking good in the polls.

Despite a 1-2 start, Colby is nationally ranked at No. 14, in a tie for the spot with Amherst College. The Mules were ranked 14th last week as well.

Colby, which played all three games against teams in the top 20, will play a fourth straight when it hosts No. 10 Tufts at 1 p.m., Saturday.

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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