Tucked along the New Hampshire border, Fryeburg Academy has become the unlikeliest softball dynasty in the state. Under Fred Apt, the Raiders have won three consecutive Western Class B championships — the first two turning into state titles — and seem favored for a fourth based on their 12-0 record after a home victory Wednesday against Falmouth.

Apt is as surprised as anyone at this year’s record but believes there’s a simple explanation:

“It’s just a lot of hard work,” he said. “The kids work real hard, they believe in each other, they believe in the coaches and it’s paid off.”

Apt also said there’s a constant in his team’s success the last five years.

“We’ve had some great leadership,” he said. “And the kids take to that, especially the new ones coming in.”

Apt raved about Kelsey Sheehan, a senior who started the last two years but is unable to play this year because of a back injury. “She hasn’t played an inning but she’s been at every practice and every game,” he said. “That’s a leader.”

Then there’s senior Charlotte Lewis. Last year she was a sometimes-dominating pitcher. This year she’s moved to play the middle infield — second base or shortstop, wherever she’s needed — because freshman Sarah Harriman has become a dominant pitcher, averaging double-digit strikeouts per game.

Apt said it didn’t take much to convince Lewis to move, nor did her ego ever become an issue. “We talked about what was best for the team and how valuable she is to us,” said Apt. “She took over a role that Kelsey played. Kelsey was a left fielder but we played her at a lot at other positions. We needed someone like that and Charlotte was willing to take that role on.”

The Raiders also can hit. They went four consecutive games with four home runs by four different players. Lewis, sophomore catcher Carla Tripp, sophomore center fielder Maddie Pearson (“She can do anything, she’s a great athlete,” said Apt) and senior first baseman Ashley Watkins have been in the middle of the offense.

Apt also believes that playing summer ball has had a huge impact. Until last year, Fryeburg played in a New Hampshire summer league. But the travel became too much, so last summer Apt advertised on the Maine Basketball Report website for opponents and put together a 14-game schedule against the likes of Thornton Academy, Edward Little, Windham and nearby Kennett, N.H.

“It really helps,” he said. “And it really helps the incoming kids. They learn what we’re about, learn what the other kids are about.”

What they learned quickly is the Raiders don’t back down from anyone.

“We talk about that,” said Apt. “The kids know that everybody wants to knock us off and that we have to come to play night after night.” 

THE UNBEATEN Western Class A showdown between Scarborough and South Portland was postponed twice before the schools decided on next Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Wainwright Field in South Portland.

They tried to schedule the game on a Saturday to get a larger crowd, but Scarborough Coach Tom Griffin has a college graduation to attend this week, and South Portland Coach Ralph Aceto has one to attend next week.

“I completely understand wanting to be at a college graduation,” said Aceto. 

LINCOLN ACADEMY in Newcastle is 6-3 and Coach Katie Nicholls is looking forward to a long tournament run.

The Eagles started slowly because several players were on a school trip to Honduras at the start of the preseason and missed a lot of time. That included starting infielders Sarah Alley, Katherine Bolster and Morgan Scavetta.

“It was pretty tough at first,” said Nicholls. “Their first day back was the day we played our first game against Medomak. But they’re all back and seem to be coming together.”

Lincoln Academy also has received strong pitching from senior Amelia Pennington, who is averaging nine strikeouts and less than one walk per game. 

GREELY HAS stumbled after a fast start, losing 5 of 6 games. But first-year coach Kelsey Bryant is confident the Rangers — among the preseason favorites in Western Class B — can turn around and get back in the playoff hunt.

“The season isn’t over yet,” she said. “We’ll come back. We know what we need to do. We’re just not stringing hits together, leaving too many runners on base.”

It hasn’t helped that the Rangers lost sophomore first baseman Mykaela Twitchell to an injury. She was one of the team’s top hitters when she took a foul ball off her bat during batting practice. She suffered an eye injury and concussion, and has yet to return. 

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

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