Cony first baseman James Presti, left, tags out Medomak Valley baserunner Porter Gahagan on pick off throw from pitcher Kam Douin, top, during a scrimmage April 13 at Morton Field in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — The Cony baseball team couldn’t be enjoying a much better start to its first season in Class B than it is this spring.

The Rams have clicked out of the gate, going 3-0 with wins over Oceanside, Belfast and Leavitt. Cony has outscored the three opponents 24-3, and coach Don Plourde praised how the team has approached the start of the season.

“It’s the age-old baseball thing. Pitching, defense and timely hitting,” he said. “This group has really bought into the style of baseball that we’re asking them to play. That’s really an unselfish brand of, if there’s a guy at third with less than two outs, give up your at-bat to knock him in.”

As the offensive output has suggested, it’s working.

“We’ve done an incredible job of driving in runners from third with less than two outs,” Plourde said. “Very unselfish. It’s just a hard-working group of kids.”

Plourde said the Rams have been good at adjusting at the plate throughout both the game and the individual at-bats. In the win over Oceanside, Cony batters struck out seven straight times on the first trip through the lineup, then only once from there.


Cony’s Kam Douin pitches during a baseball scrimmage against Medomak Valley on April 13 at Morton Field in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“We hammer away at them in practice about situational hitting, a two-strike approach, and just being able to make those adjustments in a game,” Plourde said. “We talk about it every single practice, at-bat, everything. … We work on two-strike swings, everything from hit-and-run, suicide, you name it. They’re putting in the time.”

After going 8-8 in Class A last year, the Rams, led by captains Kam Douin, Brayden Barbeau, Sam Flannery and James Presti, project to be a contender in Class B this season.

“I never look at a season and go ‘Jeez, I think we’re going to be 10-2,'” he said. “I knew we had a scrappy group of kids, and it actually reminds me of the team we had (in 2019). They were hard-working kids that were willing to do whatever it took to get it done, and that’s really what this group is all about.”


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Gardiner pitcher Grace Deering throws to the plate during a game last season against Cony at Cony Family Field in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The Gardiner softball team has found a similar path to early success.

The Tigers are 2-0 one season after going 14-3 and reaching the Class B South quarterfinals. One of those victories, a 12-9 win over Edward Little, came against a Class A opponent.

“Defensively, we’ve got a long way to go,” said coach Ryan Gero, whose team has scored 19 runs in two games. “But offense really is what’s carried us through these games. We’re averaging 13 to 14 hits a game right now.”

Taylor Takatsu has swung the hottest bat so far, while Grace Deering and Lainey Cooley have also had good starts at the plate. Gero said the team has focused on being more selective at the plate than it was last season.

“Our approach this year has been that we’re going to make a pitcher throw a strike, and then we’re going to really rely on knowing our zone, and not chasing balls that are not in the strike zone,” he said. “We know where our pitches that we can hit are. That’s what we’ve been working on all preseason, where our sweet spots are. Let’s look for our pitch, let’s not settle for a pitch.”



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Madison pitcher Brooke McKenney throws the ball to the plate during an April 2 scrimmage in Topsham. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal


Year in and year out, the Madison softball team is as reliable as running water. It should come as no surprise, then, that the Bulldogs are off to another hot start in 2022.

Madison is 3-0 thus far and has posted shutout victories in all three games. The Bulldogs opened the season April 20 with a 9-0 win over Oak Hill before posting a 17-0 victory in Monday’s home game against Mt. Abram and topping Spruce Mountain 11-0 in Tuesday’s matchup in Jay.

Ace Brooke McKenney struck out 12 batters in a perfect game against the Phoenix. The senior, who had struck out 10 batters in Monday’s win over Mt. Abram, has been one of Class C’s premier players since being named a first-team all-Mountain Valley Conference selection as a freshman in 2019.


“Having a pitcher like Brooke McKenney is huge because, if we score two or three runs, we feel we’re in a pretty good place,” Madison coach Chris LeBlanc said. “We’re not going to have many teams that can score many runs on us, I don’t believe. The question is going to be, if they hit the ball, are we going to be able to make the plays?”

Madison has begun its 2022 campaign without one of its vital players after senior Landyn Landry suffered an injury before the season. The Bulldogs, LeBlanc said, will be hoping to get their star shortstop back in time for a postseason push in June.

Madison went 17-2 a year ago with both losses, the latter of which came in the Class C South championship game, at the hands of Hall-Dale. After taking on Winthrop and Carrabec this week, LeBlanc’s team will get another shot at Hall-Dale at home at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

“We used to be that team that was always the one people were going after, and now it’s Hall-Dale,” LeBlanc said. “I certainly used a little psychological motivation in saying that, ‘Hey, you’re not getting the respect because you’re Class C South runners-up and not champions. If you want that respect, you need to beat them.’”


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Monmouth and Lisbon have been the standard in Mountain Valley Conference girls track for a while now, but there’s another local girls team that’s been strong in the early going: Winthrop.

Winthrop began the season on a high note April 19 as it racked up 74.5 team points to outpace Boothbay/Wiscasset (41) and Hall-Dale (27 1/2). The Ramblers then put forth another solid effort Tuesday afternoon as they returned to Wiscasset and placed second with 71 points, just 11 points shy of Lisbon and nine ahead of Monmouth.

Winthrop boasts top field athletes in seniors Autumn Gerry and Ellie Folsom. Gerry, who placed third in the high jump in the Class C championships last year at 4-10, surpassed it with a 5-0 jump in the April 19 opener. Folsom, who took fourth in the discus throw at states a year ago, has won that event twice already this year.

“Both Autumn and Ellie, when they’re not playing a sport, they’re working hard in the weight room,” Winthrop coach Ed Van Tassel said. “They’ve lifted all summer, and Autumn hooked onto a co-op team for indoor track. They’re fired up, they’re motivated, and they’re ready to have a good spring.”

Morgan Fichthorn, whose wins in both 800-meter runs include a 2:58.88 time Tuesday, is one of eight freshmen on the Winthrop girls team this year. Getting contributions from that freshman class will be crucial for the Ramblers.

“Autumn and Ellie are going to certainly do the heavy lifting, but if we do anything this year, it’s going to be on the back of our freshmen,” Van Tassel said. “Last year, we had maybe five girls on the team. We were coming out of COVID and just didn’t have anybody, so we’re really happy with the added numbers.”

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