DYER BROOK, Maine — A return to prominence could be in store for the Southern Aroostook softball team this spring.
The Warriors have a bundle of returning players, including several solid athletes who helped SACS win another state championship in basketball this past winter.
Paul Sherman is embarking on his fifth overall season with the club and his outlook for the new year is promising.
“We have good numbers and a good mix of ages,” he said. “We have several athletic, aggressive girls who just love to play sports. Several play multiple sports and many are experienced softball players.”
The Warriors had a solid season, but unfortunately came out on the losing end of a couple of tight contests. SA finished with an 8-6 overall record, which earned them the No. 8 seed in Class D North. SA defeated No. 9 Wisdom 16-6 in a preliminary playoff, but fell to top-ranked Ashland 12-6 in the quarterfinals.
“We were in all but two games last year,” coach Sherman said. “Four of our losses were close games with tough opponents. We have a promising defense.”
The Southern Aroostook roster features seniors Sammi Desrosier (outfield) and Emily Stewart (outfield); juniors Madison Russell (pitcher/shortstop), Jennah Brooks (first base, catcher, second base), Jayniece Wenzloff (second base, pitcher) and Callie Russell (third base, first base); sophomores Madison Shields (outfield, third base), Leana Caswell (outfield), Jordyn Bishop (outfield), Isabella Lofton (outfield), Cami Shields (catcher, first base), Brooke Ivey (outfield) and Bailey Vose (outfield, second base); and freshmen Rylee Kuliga (outfield), Olivia Engbretson (outfield, pitcher), Bethany Schmidt (outfield) and Addyson Schmidt (infield).
Sherman has a luxury most softball coaches do not have — several players capable of stepping into the pitching circle on any given day.
“I expect to be in any game in which my three pitchers make the other teams earn their way on base,” he said. “All three pitchers will get significant innings this year.”
The Warriors lost their starting shortstop, Paige Vose, to graduation. Coach Sherman said the Warriors would miss her experience and defensive prowess.
Among the team’s strengths this season are its athletic abilities, experience and defense. The team also has several players capable of making power contact with the ball.
“We have aggressive girls who like to play and compete,” the coach said. “(There are) several experienced players who know the game well and several excellent baserunners.”
Having players who can play multiple positions will be another strength of the team.
Some areas he would like to work on as the season progresses are being more selective with pitches to avoid issuing walks; making solid contact at the plate; and working through situational plays before they happen.
Assisting Sherman with the team is Jessica Nye, a 2015 graduate of SACS who was an accomplished pitcher for the Warriors.
Southern Aroostook is tentatively slated to open its season Monday, April 25, with a 4 p.m. game at Hodgdon.