The Hermon High School softball team has taken on a new look this season.
The Hawks have a new coach in Rob Jenkins and four-year workhorse pitcher Karli Theberge has graduated, taking her pitching and hitting skills to Castleton University in Vermont.
But the results have been the same.
The Hawks, who went 16-0 and earned the top seed in the Class B North playoffs last season, are off to an 8-0 start including two thrilling come-from-behind victories.
They scored two runs in the top of the seventh inning to tie defending state champ Old Town 4-4 en route to a 7-4 eight-inning triumph and erupted for 17 runs in the seventh against Ellsworth on Monday to erase an 11-8 deficit and post a 25-11 victory over the Eagles.
Senior catcher Hailey Perry called the 17-run inning “crazy” and said she had never been a part of a 17-run inning.
“We just kept hitting and that excitement from everyone getting through the lineup just kept us going. We stayed confident at the plate and made good contact,” said Perry.
“We knew we needed to get some runs across the plate. We weren’t ready to go down without a fight,” said senior pitcher-infielder Katie Windsor.
Windsor is one of the three pitchers picking up the slack in the circle left by Theberge’s departure. The others are senior Lexi MacManus and sophomore Breanne Oakes.
“Our pitching is great because we have such different types of pitchers. All three of them have different spins and speeds so it’s easier when you need one of them to come in because it throws off the other team,” said Perry.
“We have a lot of pitching,” said Jenkins. “Any of them could be number ones on other teams.”
“Honestly, this year was more of a building year but once we figured out where everybody was going to be, it is definitely going to bring us good things at the end of the season,” said Perry.
The Hawks have displayed the ability to win games in different ways.
The day after their slugfest against Ellsworth, MacManus shut out John Bapst of Bangor 6-0 and her teammates played impressive errorless ball behind her.
“We take a lot of pride in our defense. That’s our main focus. We make sure our defense is strong behind our pitcher,” said Windsor.
Scoring runs hasn’t been an issue for Hermon, which has scored at least 13 runs in five of its eight wins and has posted at least six in all of them.
Speedy junior left fielder Laura Zenk is a top-notch leadoff hitter from the left side and also has some power as shown by her game-winning, three-run homer against Old Town.
Zenk is followed in the potent lineup by MacManus, a second baseman when she isn’t pitching, Perry and Oakes, who plays third when she isn’t in the circle.
Windsor has been a clutch hitter in the six spot as it was her two-out base hit that tied Old Town in the seventh and two-run single that keyed a five-run first inning against John Bapst.
Sophomore Megan Chamberlain is the right fielder, freshman Rachael Balmas is the first baseman, senior Jaelen Albert is the center fielder and senior Chloe Raymond is the shortstop.
The Hawks are anxious to make a longer run in the playoffs this season after arch-rival Old Town upset them 1-0 in the semifinals a year ago. Hermon had captured regional crowns in 2014 and 2015 under coach Meg McCrum and won the state title in 2014.