PI softball team bounces back from tough start
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The Wildcats opened their regular season against two of the top softball teams in Class B North in Hermon and Old Town.
The Hawks easily handled PI in both ends of an April 21 doubleheader in Hermon. The Wildcats had a much-improved effort two days later in Old Town, but fell in both games to lead to an 0-4 start.
Presque Isle has since bounced back to win three in a row, blowing out Fort Kent Thursday before gaining a pair of close victories at Mount Desert Island Saturday. Terry Cummings, the fourth-year coach of the Wildcats, said the team gained confidence despite losing to the Coyotes.
“In the second game, we led by a run with two outs in the bottom of the sixth and then gave up four unearned runs,” Cummings said, “but it was great to see us battle against a quality team.
“We know that the rest of our schedule can result in quite a few wins if we play well,” he added.
Presque Isle benefitted from its spring trip to Florida, according to Cummings, who said it was a great learning experience with the team’s first outdoor practice occurring down there along with the opportunity to play six games against quality competition.
The Wildcats have a new-look team after losing seven seniors to graduation. Only two of this year’s starters, current seniors Jillian Flynn and Hailey Cameron, were starters in 2015. Seven freshmen have joined this year’s roster.
Cummings’ teams have gone 31-21 during his three years as coach and in each of the last two years the Wildcats have won home prelim games to reach the quarterfinal round against No. 1 Gardiner, which resulted in defeats both times.
“This year’s group is blended with five seniors, two juniors and the seven freshmen and they all get along well and want to win,” Cummings said. “If we get timely hitting, play solid defense and get good pitching, we should do well.
“Our goal is to once again host a prelim game and this time win a quarterfinal game, but to do this we will have to improve every time out,” he added.
Flynn starts at first base and will also do some catching. She is the No. 2 batter in the order and has started fast at the plate as the captain always makes solid contact. Cameron is the shortstop and bats fourth in the lineup. She was a first-team Penobscot Valley Conference all-star last year and Cummings said she is primed for another huge season.
Another infielder is senior Taylor Williams, who returns to the sport after a layoff and starts at third base. She is the team’s leadoff hitter, and according to Cummings has improved everyday since tryouts and knows what it takes to win at the varsity level. Alyssa Trombley is another senior who took last year off but is back as the center fielder. She is a solid defensive player who is starting to get her timing down on offense.
Senior Shelby Shaw is a reserve player, while Amy Seeley, a junior, starts in left field. Faith Leavitt, another junior, will see some action on the mound this season.
The remaining players are the freshmen. The batterymates are pitcher Sydney Thompson and catcher Savannah Rodriguez. Thompson will improve as she gains confidence and experience, both on the mound and with the bat. Rodriguez is an excellent hitter and owns a great arm that can control an opposing team’s running game.
Emma Bouchard starts at second base and had a key moment in one of the Old Town games when she drove in two runs with a hit and came around to score the go-ahead run in the top of the sixth. Lydia Miller is relatively new to the sport and starts in right field.
Allison Madore, Mayce Kinney and Libby Boone are the other ninth-graders on the team. Boone is currently sidelined with a concussion.
Peter Coffin is the assistant coach and sophomores Kiara Lyford, Kayla Saucier and Megan Butler handle the managerial duties.