There is one thing you can count on during the high school softball season: Bucksport High School challenging for a state championship.
Coach Mike Carrier’s Golden Bucks have won four Class C North championships and three state titles over the last five years.
Madison beat the Bucks 3-1 in last year’s state final.
Madison also won the state title in 2014, beating Calais 1-0.
Bucksport beat Dirigo of Dixfield (2-1), Madison (7-0) and Telstar of Bethel (9-4) in the 2012, ’13 and ’15 state championship games.
Carrier, who is in his 27th season at the helm, said last year’s loss to Madison is still fresh in their minds.
“We want to play them again,” said Carrier.
Carrier lost four starters off last year’s 19-2 team but he has just four returning starters who are playing the same positions they played in 2016: junior pitcher Katelin Saunders, senior second baseman Emily Hunt, junior shortstop Darian Jellison and junior catcher Kenzie Smith.
Junior third baseman Hannah Ashmore is an infielder by trade but played in the outfield last season; senior center fielder Madysen Robichaud was the left fielder and junior first baseman Maggie Bires was primarily a pitcher.
The Bucks took a 3-0 record into a Thursday game against Central of Corinth and one of the primary reasons has been pitcher Saunders.
She allowed just one run in the three victories and had 30 strikeouts and just two walks, according to Carrier.
Carrier said Saunders has six pitches “that work really well” and she has done a better job spotting her pitches this season.
“Last year she was too accurate,” said Carrier meaning that Saunders threw too many pitches right down the middle. “She has been hitting the corners this year.”
Carrier feels he has one of the best defensive catchers in the state in the strong-armed Smith and she is also one of the offensive catalysts in the cleanup spot.
Robichaud is another top run-producer as she has already belted two homers and Carrier said he has two quality table-setters in lefthanded-hitting slappers Jellison and Hunt, who hit first and second in the order and can both run.
Senior left fielder Kyle Atwood gives Carrier another fleet-footed slapper in the nine spot.
Sophomore Makayla Tripp is the starting right fielder.
Carrier said his team has struggled a little offensively but he expects that to come around.
Carrier said Narraguagus High School of Harrington and Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln are two legitimate title contenders in C North. He played both during the preseason but doesn’t play either during the regular season.
“Narraguagus is a lot better than they were last year. They have some young kids who have done a pretty good job. They have a good pitcher (sophomore Lanie Perry) and they have some kids who can hit now. Mattanawcook has a good pitcher (Haley McLaughlin), too,” said Carrier.