The 2016 softball season ended too soon for the Narraguagus High School Knights.
After going undefeated during the regular season, the top-seeded Knights from Harrington were upset 11-8 by eighth seed Piscataquis Community of Guilford in the Class C North quarterfinals.
Head coach Tracie Martin has only three starters back off last year’s team and is starting five freshmen but the Knights haven’t missed a beat, taking a 6-0 record into a Thursday game against Greenville.
They have outscored their opponents 85-7 and are hoping to make a deeper run in the playoffs this season.
One of the three returnees is sophomore pitcher Lanie Perry, who had an outstanding freshman season and is even better this season, according to Martin.
“She is hitting her spots better and is a little stronger,” said Martin, who pointed out that Perry has been working with well-respected pitching coach Rick Roberts from Ellsworth since she was in fourth grade.
The other two starters are junior shortstop Madison Leighton and sophomore third baseman Kylee Joyce.
Perry, Leighton and Joyce also are considered the team’s offensive catalysts.
The freshman starters are first baseman Kirstin Kennedy, catcher Kaci Alley, second baseman Emma Redimarker, center fielder Anna Taylor and either Breanna Kenney or Madelyn Willey in right field.
Junior Sophia DeSchiffart is the starting left fielder.
The Knights will also be bolstered by the return of senior first baseman Hannah Alley, who was cleared by doctors earlier this week after being sidelined by an injury.
Martin readily acknowledges that they don’t have as challenging a schedule as they would like. The teams they have beaten so far have a combined 5-11 record.
But Martin and her team got some valuable experience at a preseason play day in Bucksport where they faced some quality teams such as the host Golden Bucks, who have won four of the last five regional championships and three state titles.
“It gave us a chance to see some different pitching and different teams,” said Martin. “I was extremely pleased with how we played at the play day.”
Bucksport coach Mike Carrier was impressed with the Knights, saying they were better than they were last season thanks to the infusion of the young players and the pitching of Perry. He thought they were a better hitting team than a year ago.
Martin expects her team to improve in all areas as the young players continue to gain experience.
“They work very hard,” said Martin.
She said with teams like defending regional champ Bucksport, Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln and Houlton, Class C North is going to definitely be a “competitive class.”