SKOWHEGAN — Skowhegan softball coach Lee Johnson and his counterpart at Oxford Hills, Cynthia Goddard, find themselves in a similar position as the regular season winds into the stretch run.

Arguably on a collision course for a rematch of last year’s Class A North final, the Indians and Vikings are the class of the region. Following a crisply played 2-1 Skowhegan win over Oxford Hills last week, Johnson and Goddard talked about the preparation for a possible state championship appearance.

Or, more precisely, the lack thereof.

“You don’t even have a chance (to prepare),” Goddard said of pitching around the league. “This is it. You don’t see it day in and day out.”

Indian senior Ashley Alward is the hardest thrower in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference, with her fastball topping out well into the 60s. Viking junior Lauren Merrill featured an array of pitches that drop, dip, dive and juke their way to home plate. Just as their respective squads are far and away the leaders in the regional Heal point standings with just a handful of games remaining, they are head and shoulders above the rest of the pitching competition.

Which is problematic — not for the Skowhegan and Oxford Hills defenses, but for their offenses as they try and earn Class A state championship honors next month.

“When we go hit in the state game, you can’t prepare for it,” Johnson said. “You don’t see it (enough during the season). We tried last year when we got there, but we couldn’t do anything with it. We just don’t see it enough.”

Johnson and Goddard bantered back and forth following last week’s game in Skowhegan. They were clearly in agreement that more Alwards and Merrills would be good for the league.

“It’s not what she and I are used to seeing,” Johnson said. “We used to see a whole bunch of kids who were similar to that.”

“It’s not as challenging,” Goddard added.

• • •

Messalonskee senior Mackenzi Veilleux has been a pleasant surprise in the pitching circle for the Eagles.

Only last week, Veilleux started making relief appearances for Messalonskee. Following hard throwers like Danielle Hall and Kate Douglass to the circle has worked for Veilleux, who relies on less speed and more accuracy.

“I started using her this past week and saw that it worked. We’re going with it from here,” Messalonskee coach Samantha Moore said. “She’s really good about always being here to play. She’s the most positive athlete you could have. She’s a great girl to have in the circle, because the girls want to pick her up the way she picks them up.”

The point was proven in a loss to Lewiston on Monday. Hall was roughed up for seven runs, all but two of which were unearned. Once Veilleux came in, the Eagles seemed a looser bunch — and they battled back to have a shot at a comeback with some much crisper defense behind the reliever.

“I think that kind of changed our fielding dynamic,” Moore said. “For us, we really feed of each other’s energy. If we come in low, we’re going to stay low until somebody starts driving the bus.”

• • •

No team has been more difficult to beat at home than Nokomis.

The Warriors enter Friday ninth in Class B North, having won four straight at home en route to a 6-1 record in Newport. By contrast, the Warriors are just 2-5 on the road.

With games remaining against Waterville and Brewer, Nokomis is eager to gain as many Heal points as possible. A doubleheader sweep of Presque Isle, which included a no-hit effort from pitcher Britney Bubar, vaulted Nokomis into the thick of the playoff race.

But, without jumping another spot, the Warriors are scheduled to meet Gardiner — on the road.

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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