When you take a look at high school softball linescores these days, what exactly are you seeing?

More runs? Yep. More hits? Yep.

That’s exactly what the Powers That Be were hoping for when the national federation moved the pitching rubber back 3 feet, to 43 feet, for high school softball.

For years they had been searching for a way to put the batters on equal footing with dominating pitchers.

What they may not have envisioned was an increase in another category: errors.

Errors are up — in some cases way up — because more balls are being put in play by the batters.

“All I know is that you better bring your gloves,” said Mike Robb, head coach at Greely, which is 7-1 after defeating Gray-New Gloucester on Wednesday.

He should know. In Greely’s 8-6 loss to Fryeburg Academy, the Rangers committed seven errors.

“You look at it and I think you’ll see strikeouts are way down,” said Robb. “So your defense is the difference in what we’re seeing this year.”

Certainly, said Robbie Ferrante, the head coach at 7-1 surprise McAuley, “Once in a while you’ll see 12, 13 strikeouts in a game. But not like in the past.”

And you might even see days like last Wednesday, when Greely’s Mary Zambello, South Portland’s Alexis Bogdanovich and Scarborough’s Mo Hannan each threw a no-hitter.

But those three are some of the best pitchers around.

“There is definitely more pressure being put on your defense,” said Ferrante. “So far we’ve been getting good defense.

“The team that plays good defense is going to hang in games.”

Biddeford is 6-2 after losing Wednesday at unbeaten Scarborough. The Tigers committed five errors in their loss to Gorham and three Wednesday.

Coaches are spending more time on defensive drills and situations in practice than they ever have.

“We haven’t had a dominant pitcher here in a while, probably since Sarah Bennis,” said Greely’s Robb, possibly forgetting his own daughter, Michelle, who was one of the state’s best. “So we’ve always stressed defense here. We’ve always played pretty good defense.”

Amy McMullin, the head coach at Cheverus, said her pitcher, Theresa Hendrix, has rebounded from being hit fairly hard in the early season.

“She’s made some adjustments,” said McMullin. “She gets up every morning at 6 and throws, whether we have a practice or a game. That’s the type of player she is. She always finishes stronger than she starts.”

But, said McMullin, “the team has also made some adjustments defensively. The ball is still being put in play more. And errors are up because of that. Last year our practices were fashioned more to offense because that was the name of the game then.

“This year we’re incorporating a lot of defensive drills into our practices.”

 

BIDDEFORD’S HOT start, somewhat of a surprise with seven starters gone from last year’s team, has been fueled by junior pitcher Sarah Gilblair. She’s kept the Tigers in close games by throwing strikes and fielding her position.

Having a good-luck ritual also helps.

Before Gilblair throws any warm-up pitches, third baseman Brianna Michaud has to pick up the ball in the pitcher’s circle and hand it to Gilblair.

The two then say, “Let’s go, 1-2-3!”

“It’s a ritual,” said Michaud.

 

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

[email protected]