While Mainers were enjoying wonderful weather last week, three SMAA softball teams were basking in the sun and fun of Orlando, Fla.

Thornton Academy, Gorham and Bonny Eagle were among five Maine teams — joining Madison and Presque Isle — to venture to Disney’s Wide World of Sports resort for some serious spring training.

That they missed the best week of weather here this spring didn’t concern them.

“Yeah, the weather was really good here,” said Gorham Coach Dennis Crowe. “It was fantastic there. Just fantastic. Highs in the 80s, sunshine. Just great.”

More important, the teams accomplished what they wanted to get done on this trip.

“We clearly figured some things out,” said Crowe. “We were clearly better when we left than we were when we arrived.”

And that’s the purpose of the trip. Gorham, which took 14 players, played nine games over four days. Thornton Academy, which took 19 players, played 13 games over four days. Bonny Eagle, which went down a few days earlier than Gorham and Thornton, played 10 games.

“Everyone had ample playing time,” said Thornton Coach John Provost. “We had time to evaluate some positions. It was a great experience.”

In addition to the games, the teams got a lot of practice time. And then, of course, there are the resorts. According to Caterina Riitano, the coach at Bonny Eagle, the Scots visited several theme parks: Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. “The girls really enjoyed the trip,” she wrote in an email. “As did I.”

Provost said it cost about $1,400 per player, including air fare, housing, food and park passes. While Thornton also went to Florida last year, Provost said he will try to make it an every-other-year proposition from now on. “You don’t want your parents fundraising 12 months of the year,” he said.

The teams were matched against opponents from Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina, Wisconsin, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

Winning, said Gorham’s Crowe, wasn’t necessarily important.

“We got it right,” said Crowe. “We figured out who our starters were and we were better than when we left.”

THORNTON’S PROVOST should have visited the Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum, aka the Orlando Odditorium, while the Trojans were there, because he’s got one for them.

In Thornton’s first countable game when it returned, starting pitcher Julia Geaumont hit a home run in her first at-bat.

No big deal?

Well, consider this: She’s hit a home run in her first at-bat each of her four years.

“I remember her freshman year,” said Provost. “She was already nervous because she was on the varsity, then I put her in the leadoff spot, too. First pitch, she sent it over the fence. To do that four consecutive years is wild.

“That’s a weird one.”

Believe it or not.

BIG GAME today when Greely travels to defending Class B state champ Fryeburg Academy. The teams are considered the two best in the Western Maine Conference, perhaps all of Western Class B.

Then, next Wednesday, Scarborough travels to Saco to play Thornton Academy, a match of two of the best in Western Class A.

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

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH