Cony’s Trent Hayward slides safely into home as the ball gets away from Monmouth Academy catcher Noah Schultz during a baseball game April 29 in Augusta. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

AUGUSTA — It was a matchup that made sense to both — so Eric Palleschi and Don Plourde both said, “Why not?”

Three decades ago, Plourde was an assistant boys basketball coach at Monmouth Academy when Palleschi was a member of the team. They’re now both coaching baseball, with Plourde the head coach at Cony and Palleschi at his alma mater.

“We asked for this game,” Plourde said after the Rams’ 15-8 victory over the Mustangs in the teams’ April 29 meeting. “We’re friends, and even though we’re in different classes, we knew this would be a good game for both of our teams. We wanted to play each other.”

It’s become a common theme when you look at high school baseball and softball schedules these days. Sure, conference and regional showdowns still account for the bulk of games, but more and more teams are finding that nontraditional matchups benefit everyone while providing for some added excitement.

For years, scheduling in baseball and softball was rather straightforward. In the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference, the Skowhegans of the world would battle the Messalonskees; in the Mountain Valley Conference, the Hall-Dales and the Madisons would take on the Monmouths and the Winthrops.

Those matchups, of course, are still the norm rather than the exception. Yet with the MVC opening up scheduling last year, it presented a host of opportunities for both MVC teams that wanted to take on some of the bigger schools and for the KVAC schools to test their mettle against the best of a smaller league.


“I think opening up the scheduling has been great,” said Oak Hill head baseball coach Chad Stowell, whose team played Lewiston last month. “I don’t think Oak Hill has ever played Lewiston in a regular season baseball game, and it was a great opportunity. We also played Sacopee Valley the first game of the season and went down to Waynflete. It’s interesting to play different teams and move around a little bit.”

The games between Oak Hill and Lewiston, which also faced one another in softball, were ones that pitted two schools of vastly different sizes against one another. Oak Hill, at 397 students, is the smallest school in Class B South, while Lewiston, at 1,505 students, is the largest in the state.

Oak Hill first baseman Landen Denis follows through after scooping a low throw to get the force out on Lewiston’s Michael Caron during an April 29 game in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Yet as the matchups between the Raiders and Blue Devils showed, school size isn’t everything. Although Lewiston prevailed in both contests, Oak Hill hung tough, falling 2-1 in baseball and 7-5 on the softball diamond.

“It was really cool, honestly,” Trent Drouin, a senior on the Oak Hill baseball team, said of his team’s April 29 showdown with the Blue Devils. “We competed with them really well, which shows that we can compete with anybody.”

In some cases, teams even two classes apart have played one another. Such was the case with Class A Mt. Blue and Class C Mt. Abram, which also met April 29 in Farmington. Outside of central Maine, Class B Leavitt and Class D Buckfield faced off Monday in Turner.

Mount View out of the KVAC has faced two MVC teams, Winthrop and Maranacook. The Mustangs’ battles with Black Bears were a continuation of old matchups between the two, which came to an end at the conference level after Maranacook departed the MVC for the KVAC last summer.


Yet Mount View has also expanded its horizons further east in an effort to familiarize itself with the rest of the Class C North field it will face come playoff time. The Mustangs traveled to Orono on May 3, hosted Bucksport on Monday and traveled to East Machias on Wednesday for a pair of doubleheaders.

“We’ve had a very southern Maine-heavy schedule the last couple years, and we still have some of those, but we also added some northern Maine teams that we’ll be up against in our region,” said Mount View head baseball coach Brandon Hurd. “It’s just nice for the kids to have some different teams show up and play them. They’re good challenges.”

If there was any team looking for a challenge entering the 2024 season, it was the Hall-Dale softball team. The Bulldogs entered the campaign on a 56-game winning streak — unbeaten since June 8, 2019 —  and as winners of three consecutive Class C South championships.

Nokomis’ Raegan King connects with a pitch and flies out to Hall-Dale shortstop Maddie Coro during a May 11 softball game in Farmingdale. Hall-Dale catcher Zoe Soule is behind the plate. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

That streak came to an end at 62 games May 11 as Class B North Nokomis handed Hall-Dale a 6-0 defeat in Farmingdale. Bulldogs head coach Steve Acedo, though, came away from the loss knowing it would go a long way toward helping his team improve.

“To me, you get more out of playing the better teams because, win or lose, you’re getting something out of it,” Acedo said. “When you face experienced teams with better pitching, you grow as a team playing that game. We didn’t win, but we’re learning and talking about some things we can do to get better.”

The softball matchup between Hall-Dale and Nokomis followed the Hall-Dale baseball team’s matchup with Waterville earlier this month, a 10-5 Bulldogs victory. The Waterville baseball and softball teams had faced another MVC school, Spruce Mountain, just two days earlier.

It’s a trend, Hall-Dale Athletic Director Chris Ranslow said, that can be expected to continue. As more and more nontraditional crossover games get scheduled, coaches and administrators are learning more about what works, what doesn’t and how the process could be made even better.

“There are a couple you’d like a mulligan on, but when it’s done correctly, I think both sides benefit greatly,” Ranslow said. “Some things cut across conferences and across classes. I think you’re seeing (players and coaches) really getting a lot out of it, and it’s pretty cool to see.”

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