In its season opener Friday afternoon, the Lawrence softball team was its own case study in offensive production.

The Bulldogs scored six first-inning runs in a 13-1 win over Maine Central Institute, using five bunts and only three balls hit out of the infield in the 10 at-bat inning.

One inning later, Lawrence scored three more times with a pair of line drives to left field and a gap-shot double that one-hopped the fence.

So, which one represents the real Lawrence offense this season?

Well, according to head coach Joey Marcoux, both.

“I really like the versatility the kids have,” Marcoux said. “We’ve worked really hard on the small ball aspect, but there’s some times and places where it’s not appropriate to do it then.”

And that’s when he turns to the big bats in his lineup, including senior catcher Haley Holt, left fielder Gretta Knowlton and third baseman Molly Folsom. Against MCI, the trio combined to go 7 for 12 with three doubles, five RBIs and six runs scored.

Holt and Folsom are seniors, while Knowlton is a junior.

But that wasn’t all for Lawrence. Every member of the starting nine reached base, eight of the nine spots in the order scored at least one run and the team stole three bases in the five-inning game.

Even though MCI only made two errors in the contest, its defense was constantly under pressure by balls bunted in front of home plate and a constant flurry of Bulldog baserunning.

“I like what we have,” Marcoux said. “We’ve got some team speed at the top, we’re not really slow anywhere. None of our kids are slow, really. We can move on the bases, we can bunt and run or hit and run and do some things you really like to do. (A deep lineup one through nine) is the hope.

“I have a lot of confidence in all of the kids.”

• • •

The move to hire Al Brochu as Cony softball coach this season figured to be a smooth one and by all accounts so far is has.

Brochu replaced Rocky Gaslin, who in 13 years led the Rams to two Class A state championship games, winning it all in 2012. Brochu served as an assistant to Gaslin for the past seven years, joining the coaching ranks when his daughter Alyssa entered high school.

Like his predecessor, Brochu employs a positive approach to his players designed to bring out the best in them. He made his coaching debut Saturday. Losing an 8-7 heart breaker to Messalonskee. The Rams trailed 4-1 entering the sixth when they rallied for three runs to tie the game. The Eagles scored four in the top of the seventh inning, one of those on a controversial play in which a Messalonskee runner was thrown out at home, but later awarded the run when the base umpire called obstruction on a Cony fielder.

There was no contact on the play but Brochu kept his cool and calmly discussed the play with the umpire before walking away without a show. His team responded by nearly pulling the game out with three runs in the bottom of the inning.

After the game, Brochu dwelled on all the positive aspects of the game rather than the call. It’s no surprise he has the strategic parts of the game down, but Brochu was not necessarily prepared for everything that comes with a head coaching job.

“There’s a lot more responsibility,” he said. “A lot more phone calls, a lot more e-mails and texting. Before I used to show up and do drills with the kids. Now I’ve to kind of lay the drills out and show up and do the drills.”

Brochu is now the contact man for parents. He also deals with field preparation. Saturday’s game was moved from Cony’s field to a drier Buker field.

“We just got rid of the ice a couple of days ago,” he said. “Our first home game is next Friday. I think we’ll be good there.”

The field was also damaged last fall when someone got through the gate and drove their truck on it.

“There were a couple of loops they did and it tore it up pretty good,” he said. “It’s good that it was in the fall because it was a little bit frozen. It didn’t go really deep. The pit crew will be on it this week fixing it up.”

In the interim, the Rams play at Gardiner on Monday and at Mt. Blue on Wednesday. At Gardiner, Brochu will go up against his cousin Don Brochu, the Tigers head coach.

• • •

It could be argued that nobody has a tougher first-half schedule than Winslow. And if you were to make that argument, Black Raiders coach Steve Bodge certainly wouldn’t debate the other side of that.

After opening its Class B North slate with rival Waterville last week, Winslow played Brewer on Friday, hosts Messalonskee on Monday and then travels to Lawrence on Wednesday. Brewer and Lawrence each dropped down from Class A following last season, with Messalonskee and Lawrence each making the playoffs in 2017.

If any team can weather such on onslaught, it’s the Black Raiders. Winslow returns its entire starting nine intact from a season ago, and it employs the same basic principles it always has.

Namely, Winslow is going to try and apply the pressure.

“I’m not going to change,” Bodge said. “I say it every year and I try to do it every year — I try to steal every time I get a chance. We usually steal more bases than other teams attempt on us. We just go after it and put pressure on them.”

Against Waterville, Winslow stole four times. The running threat also forced a number of passed balls and wild pitches as the Purple Panthers tried to catch up to the running game. That running game was sparked by the ability to put the leadoff hitter aboard in four of six innings.

At least in the early going, it was working.

“It worked well,” said Winslow senior shortstop Sarah Guimond, who scored three runs against Waterville. “Everyone was hitting and attacking right off the first pitch. Everyone offensively is very aggressive.”

• • •

Notes: Skowhegan senior Ashley Alward picked up right where she left off last spring, pitching a no-hitter in the Indians’ shutout win over Lewiston to begin defense of their Class A North title. Alward also had a two-run home run, a double and drove in four of the game’s 10 runs. … Carrabec senior Bailey Dunphy has committed to playing college at Thomas College next season. The Cobras open their Mountain Valley Conference slate Monday at home against Lisbon. … MCI lost starting second baseman and leadoff hitter Dee Urena during a preseason game against Bucksport. Urena separated her shoulder and has not returned to softball activities. It’s the same shoulder she injured in a basketball game against Winslow this winter.

Gary Hawkins contributed to this report

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]


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