Veteran lineup in place for ’Cat softball squad
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Terry Cummings begins his sixth year as the head coach of the Wildcat softball team with plenty of optimism.
Seven of the nine starters on last year’s team are back, while Presque Isle also regains the services of a player who had transferred away but returned to the area this spring.
“We return a solid nucleus from last year,” Cummings said, “and we have the potential to be very good.”
Last year’s team ended up 6-10 but qualified for the postseason, losing to Winslow in a road prelim game. Faith Leavitt, who was the primary pitcher, and Amy Seeley, who started in left field, both turned in excellent seasons before graduating.
Junior Sydney Thompson, who was the primary pitcher as a freshman before giving way to Leavitt last year, returns to the circle but can also play any position in the infield. Thompson hit .340 in 2017 with a team-high five triples along with 11 RBIs. The Wildcats boast an all-Penobscot Valley Conference catcher in junior Savannah Rodriguez, who excels both defensively and offensively. She led PI in batting average (.441), runs (20) and RBIs (16) and tied for the team lead in steals (19).
Sophomore first baseman Rebecca Rider (.264), sophomore second baseman Anna Trombley (.255) and third baseman Kayla Saucier, the team’s only senior, are returning starters in the infield. Saucier batted .391 and collected 19 steals in her first year as a player after serving as manager the previous two seasons. Junior Emma Bouchard, who started at second base as a freshman before transferring last year, is back and will switch over to shortstop.
The starting outfield will include junior Allison Madore, who started last season, along with sophomore Alana Legassie and freshman Rhylee Kinney.
Junior Lydia Miller missed most of last year due to an injury, but Cummings said she has worked hard in the off-season and will play in the outfield and also see time in the pitching circle.
Freshmen Riley Davis and Rachel Milliard, who are in their first year in the program after transferring from Washburn and Fort Fairfield, respectively, provide depth to the PI roster.
Trombley and Kinney will back up Thompson and Miller as pitchers and Cummings is impressed with the team’s depth at the position, which he said is a key in competing with the many strong teams on its Class B North schedule.
Thompson went 3-2 last season and struck out 26 batters in just under 30 innings of work. None of the others have pitched a single inning at the varsity level.
“Practices have been pretty intense and the girls are working hard on the fundamentals and making progress every day,” Cummings said. “We look to be a team that will put a lot of pressure on the defense with our ability to hit, and also we have girls who are good bunters and have speed on the basepaths.
“If we can come up with timely hits and play solid defense, we could be very good,” he added.
Peter Coffin is the assistant coach and the four managers are seniors Kiara Lyford and Megan Butler, junior Sierra Blade and freshman Sydney Robichaud.
The Wildcats are set to open their regular season schedule April 21 against the two-time defending Class B champion Old Town Coyotes.
Prior to that doubleheader, Presque Isle has exhibition games planned April 16-18 against Sanford, Westbrook and Kennebunk during the team’s spring trip in southern Maine.