Rick Melanson, the veteran softball coach at Noble High in North Berwick, looked at the schedule before the season and wasn’t sure what, exactly, to expect.

“I thought maybe we’d go 4-3,” he said. “And we would feel good about that.”

Well, heading into today’s game at Windham, the Knights are 6-1. Included are a 4-2 win over Biddeford and a 2-1 win over Thornton Academy.

“When was the last time we beat both Biddeford and Thornton in the same year?” asked Melanson. “I don’t know. All I know is it’s been a long time. It’s been a while since we’ve beat just one of them, let alone both in the same season.”

Noble’s success has been fueled by those softball/baseball basics: pitching and defense. Sophomore Amber Kelly, who pitched every game as a freshman, is consistently around the strike zone. Against Thornton, for example, she walked none.

And while she only struck out one in that game, the Knights were nearly flawless in handling the other 20 outs, committing only one error.

“That’s pretty amazing,” said Melanson.

At the plate, the Knights continue to get clutch hits. Against Thornton, catcher Deven Goss tied the game with a single, then hit the go-ahead home run in the fourth.

That was her fourth homer. “In batting practice, most of the girls just stand and watch her,” said Melanson.

The loss was to South Portland, 7-0 after the Riots scored six in the first. “South Portland was better than us that day,” said Melanson. “But the kids still felt good about the game.”

They simply feel good about their play.

“As the season has progressed, they’ve gained confidence,” said Melanson. “Now we’ve got to be careful not to be too overconfident. But these kids are different. They just love softball.

“When we’re at practice I hear them talking. And they’re talking hitting, how certain pitchers are throwing to them. I think to myself, ‘Wow, this is great.’ “

OCEANSIDE’S 1-0 LOSS to Maranacook on Monday was historic. Not only was it the Mariners’ first loss in Eastern Class B, it was the first regular-season game lost by a Rusty Worcester-coached team in — well, he isn’t sure how long.

“I think it was in 2007,” he said. “We’ve had a good run. I’m hoping this was a good wake-up call.”

Oceanside is the new high school in Rockland formed by merging Rockland, an Eastern Class B school, and Georges Valley of Thomaston, a former Western Class C power that was coached by Worcester. The Buccaneers were in the last five regional finals.

This year’s merged team is 5-1. “It’s a good group of girls and it’s a pleasure coaching them,” said Worcester. “They’ve blended well. Of course, we’ve already had soccer and field hockey and basketball, so these girls have already played a lot of sports together.

“I do think we’re a very talented team. I think we’ll be in the mix at the end.”

GRAY-NEW GLOUCESTER is another surprise, off to a 6-1 mark and fourth in Western Class B entering today’s game with Sacopee Valley.

“We’re putting everything together,” said Coach Amanda Harmon. “Offense, defense, key plays at the right time. The kids have a very positive attitude. It’s all coming together.”

Harmon said there’s no single player pushing the Patriots to their fast start. Each game someone different contributes a clutch hit, diving catch or aggressive base running.

“You practice like you play,” said Harmon. “We push that all the time. The girls are listening, leading and making it happen.”

The big tests come next week when the Patriots play Greely at home on Monday and at Fryeburg Academy on Wednesday.

“Right now,” said Harmon, “we’re working toward (today).”

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

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Twitter: MikeLowePPH