Colby junior Laura Powell makes contact during a game against Southern Maine on Sunday in Waterville. Photo provided by Colby athletics

WATERVILLE — The 2020 Colby College baseball season was one game, a March 12  come-from-behind 5-4 win over Bowdoin. That’s one game more than the Colby softball team played in 2020, a season lost as the world tried to figure out the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both teams opened the 2021 season with a doubleheader this past Sunday. Colby’s baseball team split a pair of games at St. Joseph’s College in Standish, while the softball team lost of a pair of games at home to the University of Southern Maine.

“The weather was beautiful, and the girls had so much energy and enthusiasm,” Colby softball coach Terren Allen said.

Their schedules are in flux, with the number of games and opponents to be determined. There is a schedule coming, though, and for that, the two teams are excited and grateful. Both teams played a series of intersquad scrimmages in the fall.

“It was awesome,” Colby baseball coach Jesse Woods said of his team’s doubleheader at St. Joe’s. “It’s such a different feeling actually playing against somebody else who’s in a different colored uniform. When we can all be together  on one side, it makes for an awesome experience.”

Earlier this month, Colby’s conference, the New England Small College Athletic Conference, announced it would allow limited conference competition this spring, including league championships if a minimum of six schools in each sport choose to compete. Baseball and softball conference play is expected to begin in April and run until mid-May. A preliminary schedule posteded on the NESCAC web site has the Colby softball team opening conference play April 3 hosting a doubleheader with Trinity. Colby baseball would begin conference play April 17 hosting Tufts for a doubleheader.


“Coming from a senior here, honestly, a lot of us were pretty pessimistic in early March we would have a season,” Ryan Hecht, a senior outfielder on the Colby baseball team, said.

“The first goal is to make a big impact in NESCAC play,” Ashley Ketchum, a junior first baseman and leadoff hitter for Colby’s softball team, said. “Knowing we have the chance to play now, and there’s a tournament, we could make a big splash.”

Colby middle infielder Lauren Ilano makes a play during a game against the University of Southern Maine last weekend. Photo provided by Colby athletics

As a freshman in 2019, Ketchum enjoyed a strong debut, with 29 hits, 13 runs and a team-high 12 stolen bases. Ketchum enjoyed a solid debut for the Mules on Sunday, going 2 for 4 in Game 2, with a run scored and two runs driven in.

“It was definitely really rewarding,” Ketchum said of playing her first collegiate softball games since April 27, 2019, the day her freshman season ended. “Losing an entire season was tough.”

As Woods and his team played that game against Bowdoin just over a year ago, they knew that would be it for the season. Nine innings and the team would scatter as Colby sent all students home. The goal was to get each of the seniors into the game, who were abruptly shoved into the final game of their college baseball career.

“Then, it was kind of like the world stopped after that,” Woods said. “At some point, we were going to get to play again, and we wanted to be as ready as we could be.”


Normally, the NESCAC does not allow spring sports teams to hold official organized team practices in the fall. Captains practices without coaches, that’s it, Ketchum said. This fall, the league relaxed that rule. With no guarantee of a spring season, allowing teams to practice together, to shake off rust after playing at most a handful of games before the shutdown, had added significance. After the fall sessions, practices for baseball and softball resumed on Feb. 15.

Having that extra time with his team last fall helped Woods formulate an idea of who should play where, of what a pitching rotation could look like.

“We’ve been at it quite a bit. The challenge is getting pitch counts up and at-bats for hitters. Practice-wise, there’s no rush. We’re not cramming for an exam here. From a coach’s perspective, you get a better idea on who your team is,” Woods said.

Colby’s baseball roster includes 11 freshmen who are new to college baseball, as well as 11 sophomores who may as well be freshmen, considering the lack of game experience that came last season. The fall practices were essential in their development, Hecht said.

The Coby softball team prepares to play a game against the University of Southern Maine last Sunday in Waterville. Photo provided by Colby athletics

“I was able to play a little bit last summer. It was huge we had that opportunity to work with coaches all fall,” Hecht said. “We’re definitely a young team. A lot of freshmen are going to play… We kind of like that opportunity. We like being the underdog.”

Allen and Woods both arrived in 2019, looking to rebuild programs that have struggled in recent seasons. That process, paused last year, restarts now.

“Our youth, it did show,” Allen said of her team’s 4-1 and 8-3 losses to USM on Sunday. “We have 15 players who had never seen a college game before. Getting through those game-day jitters was a big thing.”

Allen and Woods hope they’re able to get more non-conference games against in-state competition before the NESCAC games begin next month. Scheduling those games will depend on finding dates that work for Colby and possible opponents, as well as making sure COVID-19 testing protocols are met.

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