After missing the playoffs by the slimmest of margins the last two years, Yarmouth softball coach Jim Senecal didn’t mince words when asked about his team in the preseason: “We’ve been the first team out the last two years. It’s not a pattern we want to keep going. We need to have a successful season and the kids know that.”

The Clippers have played extremely well. Following Tuesday’s 7-4 victory over Gray-New Gloucester, Yarmouth was 7-1, ranked fourth in Western Class B. The Clippers improved to 8-1 on Wednesday with an 11-2 victory against second-ranked Cape Elizabeth.

The lone loss? To Fryeburg Academy, the top-ranked team in the region.

“We’re playing very well,” said Senecal. “But it’s still a little early to tell how good we can be. But this stretch (of schedule) is where we’ll really find out about us, whether we’re real or not. For now the kids have surprised me.”

The Clippers will face Falmouth, Greely and Cape again. All are in the top nine. Then they finish the regular season against Falmouth and Greely.

“We’re looking forward to it,” said Senecal. “The kids are loose and having a lot of fun this year. I know it’s corny but there’s a good vibe to this team.”

The Clippers have won by hitting the ball. The team batting average was just over .100 last year. This year it’s around .300.

“And we’re hitting with balance throughout the lineup,” said Senecal. “Opponents haven’t found too many easy outs with us.”

Senior captains Abby Hutchinson and Julie Dursema are both hitting over .400, as is McKenzie Gray, the cleanup batter.

Freshman second baseman Alexa Sullivan is batting over .350 from the leadoff spot.

“And when you go to the lower part of the batting order it’s not any easier,” said Senecal, noting that Suzanne Driscoll is hitting close to .400. She had a pivotal two-run double against Gray-NG.

Even in defeat, Senecal said the Clippers learned something. They lost 9-3 to Fryeburg and star pitcher Sarah Harriman, but it was a 2-2 game into the fifth inning before the Raiders scored seven runs.

The Clippers had seven hits off Harriman and struck out only three times.

“If you can be encouraged by a loss,” said Senecal, “that was it.” 

SOUTH PORTLAND, the defending Class A champion, is contending with injuries even as it attempts to get through a difficult stretch of the schedule.

First baseman Amanda Linscott was back in the lineup and wearing a safety mask Monday after she had a tooth reinserted. But shortstop Danica Gleason is expected to be out a little longer after suffering an ankle injury.

“She’s out at least another week,” said Coach Ralph Aceto.

Both were injured Thursday against Noble.

Linscott was hit in the mouth on a pop-up and Gleason hurt her ankle on a stolen-base attempt.

Gleason’s loss is huge.

In addition to being an exceptional defensive shortstop, she is among the Riots’ top run producers. Aceto moved left fielder Stephanie McDonough to shortstop, and is rotating Kate Jordan and freshman Olivia Indorf in left.

The Riots are in the middle of a tough stretch, with games against contenders Thornton Academy, Scarborough and Biddeford in the next eight days.

“It’s a huge week for all teams,” said Aceto.

“This is where all the Heal points are.” 

MEDOMAK VALLEY of Waldoboro continues to lead Eastern Class B with an unbeaten record (8-0).

Coach Richard Vannah said seniors Ericka Christensen, Lindsay Ranquist and Kasey Benner continue to be leaders, but that others have stepped up, including pitcher Desiree Benner.

“There’s some pressure on her because she’s new but she’s coming along,” he said.

Vannah knows the hardest part of the schedule remains, but is confident his Panthers can stay the course.

“We’re all about one-pitch, one-inning, one at-bat at a time,” he said.

“We’re just going to try to keep it going.”

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

mlowe@pressherald.com