The Husson softball team has been nearly perfect this season.

The Eagles (25-1) have won 18 consecutive games. The lone blemish was a 2-1 loss to the University of Maine at Presque Isle on March 27.

And it’s Husson that is one of the two teams vying for the North Atlantic Conference championship in a best-of-three series this weekend. The Eagles will hop on a bus to make an eight-hour journey to New York to play against Cazenovia College (19-5).

“We’re just really grateful for the opportunity,” Husson head coach Diann Ramsey said. “With every game being uncertain and so many uncontrollable aspects of, really the universe right now, there’s just a level of appreciation that allows us to enjoy the moment that we have and every opportunity that we have. So, it means a little bit more in that sense, and we’re just grateful for it.”

And the Eagles are receiving strong contributions from an abundance of central Maine players.

“I think we honestly came in (this season) with the notion that all we have is right now, because we don’t know what’s going to be taken away from us,” said Whitney Bess, a Madison Area Memorial High School graduate who is hitting .309 with the Eagles. “We all came from good backgrounds, good softball teams. We’re overall good players, I think the key for us was just combining into one team, and I think we’ve done that incredibly well, especially considering all the factors that come into play with COVID and not being able to do the things that we might have been able to do with team bonding. We still came together pretty well and made a good softball program.”

Husson sophomore Sydney Ames, a Skowhegan Area High School graduate, has been an asset both in the circle and at the plate for the Eagles this season. Ames is 12-1 with a 1.96 ERA as a pitcher, and is hitting .378 with 13 RBIs. Photo provided by Husson University Athletics

It’s no surprise Husson has returned to the NAC title game. The Eagles won the conference crown in 2018 and 2019 before losing last season to the coronavirus pandemic. But the dominance of which the Eagles have made it back is what stands out in 2021.  There is almost no hole in Husson’s game. As a team, the Eagles have a .358 batting average, with a .430 on-base percentage.

“(Offensively) it’s a whole team effort,” Bess said. “After last year, we really broke all of our swings down to the bare bones. I give all the credit to (Husson assistant coach Jenn Plourde), our hitting coach, and Coach Ramsey for really putting the time in to get that happening, because that’s changed my swing, and it’s changed all of our swings so much. We’re so much more confident in our abilities and know that on any given day, anyone can have a good day, no matter if it’s one through nine (in the lineup).”

The Eagles are winning with a roster heavy on central Maine talent. Of the 17 players on Husson’s roster, 10 graduated from central Maine area high schools. Furthermore, Skowhegan graduate Sydney Ames (12-1, 1.96 ERA) is one of the team’s top pitchers, joining graduate student Jen Jones (11-0, 1.17 ERA, 105 strikeouts in 72 innings) as a formidable one-two punch in the circle. Defensively, Husson has made 21 errors in 695 total chances for a .970 fielding percentage

“I think it’s been our defense that’s been holding us together,” said Ames. “We’re really good at hitting as well, but when we go out on the field, we know we stand as a team and as a family. I think, because we have each other’s back and we do well on the field, we bring that energy from the field to the bats, and it all just cycles into one great team.”

Added Bess: “A lot of us, even though we didn’t play in the same classes (in high school), we grew up playing against each other. Whether it was summer ball or school ball… It’s amazing that we have those stories that we can share, ‘Oh, remember this time when I did this?’ or ‘When I beat you,’ or ‘When you beat me.’ It’s great to have that (bond) on the team, and it’s so cool to see. I grew up going to pitching lessons with Sydney, and she turned out to be much better (at pitching) than I was, but it’s just awesome to see all those memories with everyone and see it all come together on the (same team).”

The team’s top hitter is freshman infielder Kenzie Dore (.500 batting average, three home runs, 33 RBIS), a Brewer High School alum. Junior infielder Katie Windsor, from Hermon, is hitting .382 this season.

“It’s hard to say that one thing stands out more than the other,” Ramsey said. “What stands out to me, as a coach, is their level of dedication and their heart. They’re very committed to success. They’re extremely disciplined in achieving their goals. I think that’s what stands out to me, it doesn’t come down to stats, it comes down to execution and how much they want to win it.”

Husson junior and Madison Area Memorial High School graduate Whitney Bess is hitting .309 this season for the Eagles. She’s also scored 27 runs and has stolen eight bases. Photo provided by Husson University Athletics

 

 

Husson swept Thomas College last weekend to win the NAC East Division title in Bangor. The Eagles have not faced Cazenovia — which swept SUNY-Delhi for the West Division crown — at any point this season. The Wildcats are hitting .356 as a team this season. They’ve also been successful on the base paths, with 32 steals in 34 attempts.

“Honestly, I think if we just go in confident and play as a team like we can, then we’ll be fine,” Ames said.

Game 1 (1 p.m.) and Game 2 (3 p.m.) of the series is set for Saturday. Game 3 (if needed) is scheduled for Sunday at noon.

 

Dave Dyer — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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