BANGOR, Maine — After reaching the Class A North final two years ago, the Bangor High School softball team exited the playoffs early last season.
Skowhegan, the sixth seed, upset No. 3 Bangor 6-1 in the quarterfinals en route to an improbable regional championship.
The Indians went just 9-7 during the regular season.
The Rams suffered some significant personnel losses, particularly pitcher-infielder Sarah Bragg and slugging outfielder-second baseman Emily Gilmore.
Gilmore is playing at the University of Maine and Bragg is playing at Husson University in Bangor.
Bragg and fellow senior Kathryn Sund saw the majority of the work in the circle with junior Page Cadorette also seeing some limited duty. Cadorette will be one of three pitchers for head coach Don Stanhope along with junior lefty Lexi Cunningham and freshman Morgan Carter Moulton.
“They all bring something different to the table. Morgan is the hardest thrower,” said Stanhope. “They all locate the ball well. They have changeups and spin pitches.”
Cadorette said she is really excited about the opportunity to pitch more and said it is up to her to “really step it up.
“I’ve been working on my location and keeping that consistent,” said Cadorette.
“Over the first half of the season, we will use them in a rotation like baseball,” said Stanhope. “That will help keep their arms fresh. Then we’ll see who rises to No. 1 at the end of the season.”
Skip Estes’ Brewer Witches are in a similar situation, pitching-wise.
Senior Sydney Hewes is the only player who pitched and her innings were limited as seniors Ally Chapman and Meg Davis saw virtually all of the duty.
Hewes, younger sister Libby Hewes, a sophomore, and sophomore Becca Gideon will be counted upon to handling the pitching chores with freshman Kate West another option.
“None of them are fireballers,” said Estes. “They throw different speeds and have an assortment of pitches. They have movement on their pitches.”
He said they have potential but are just short on experience.
Brewer went 8-9 a year ago including a preliminary round loss to Mt. Ararat of Topsham 12-2.
Both coaches feel their teams will be able to score runs and make plays on defense.
“We have a good mixture of contact hitters and power hitters. And we’ll be able to play small ball and move people around. We have non-ego hitters,” said Stanhope.
Third baseman Megan Conner and shortstop Emma Payne, both seniors, will be two of the offensive catalysts along with junior first baseman Lindy Bezgembluk.
Payne returns to shortstop after catching last season due to an injury to Quinn Wood.
“I’m excited to be back at short. That’s my natural position. But it was good being a catcher. It’s fun to switch things up a little bit,” said Payne.
Sophomore Madi Drake has moved from left field to center and Cadorette, an outfielder when she isn’t pitching, will also be expected to produce at the plate. Seniors Grace Perron and Morgan Kimball start at second and behind the plate, respectively.
Estes said he has an exceptional leadoff hitter in senior outfielder Anna Chute and some other quality hitters in junior Emily Lord, who moves from shortstop to center field, senior outfielder Alexis Getchell and sophomore outfielder Olivia Cattan.
Estes, who is in his 12th season at Brewer, has been moving a lot of players to new positions.
Freshman MacKenzie Dore has impressed as the starting shortstop which enabled Estes to switch Lord to center. Senior Crystal Dore, MacKenzie’s sister, will play third and some second and Gideon and Libby Hewes play first.
M.J. Sellars, a junior, is at third after catching last season and sophomore Jordan Goodrich, the left fielder in 2016, is now catching. Sydney Hewes will see some action at second.
“Our lineup could be different every day depending upon who pitches,” said Estes. “We should be above average defensively and a pretty good hitting team.”
Stanhope and Estes both feel Class A North is wide open.
“Anybody can beat anybody else on a given night,” said Estes.
“It’s going to be the kind of year where you’re not going to believe who beat who [on a certain day], “ said Stanhope, who is in his 13th season.
Skowhegan returns its talented pitching tandem of Sydney Ames and Ashley Alward. Messalonskee of Oakland (15-0-1 during the regular season) and Oxford Hills of South Paris (11-4-1) were the top two seeds and should be factors along with Edward Little of Auburn (11-5) and Cony of Augusta (11-5).
Hampden Academy (6-10) has a new coach in former JV coach Matt Madore and some good veterans in Brooklynn Scott and Julia Sicard. The Broncos, along with Lawrence of Fairfield (5-11), are two teams Stanhope and Estes expect to be noticeably improved.