The Lincoln Academy softball team opened some eyes last year by going 10-6 in the regular season and winning a preliminary-round game in the Western Class B tournament.
“It gave the girls confidence that they could play with anybody,” Coach Tom Nelson said.
The Eagles have built on their success this season and with a 12-1 record they’re thinking it’s time to take success to the next level.
“We’re definitely hoping to make a dent in Western B,” said Nelson, who is in his first year as head coach after a season as the junior varsity coach. “There’s not a big history of going too deep in the playoffs.”
Lincoln had a similar breakout season in basketball this year. Nelson said he sees an increase in his players’ confidence.
“I have five girls from the team that went to the KVAC title game,” Nelson said. “There’s definitely some carry over.”
Plus, the Eagles are still young, with six juniors and six sophomores filling most of the key roles on the team. Lincoln plays mostly Eastern Maine opponents, so it will enter the playoffs as a bit of an unknown commodity, though an early season 7-1 win against defending state champion Oceanside carries some weight. Lincoln’s only loss was a 10-3 loss to Winslow.
“And in that game we hit two home runs early and then they changed pitchers and we struggled,” Nelson said. “That game was good for us. It showed us we weren’t quite as good as we thought and that we couldn’t afford to take a practice off.”
Abby Farrin, a junior, has built on her success as a sophomore and has pitched four shutouts, including a 5-0 win over Erskine Academy last week. Farrin has three games with 13 strikeouts and “six or seven” with 10 or more, according to Nelson.
The batting order has also been producing, especially now that sophomore speedster Chloe Hallowell is reaching base with consistency from the leadoff spot.
“I honestly think she’s one of the fastest kids in the state,” Nelson said. “She gets on and she steals second easily.”
Junior catcher Miranda Achorn leads Lincoln with an average approaching .600. She has 28 hits and, according to Nelson, is batting over .800 with runners in scoring position.
Achorn’s twin sister, Morgan, the center fielder and No. 2 hitter, has also started producing. Sophomore third baseman Alyx York is a selective hitter with an on-base percentage over .500.
The Eagles have also received help from junior second baseman Danielle Pinkham and sophomore Olivia York. Pinkham has recovered from a broken foot during basketball season.
After Tuesday’s home game against Maranacook, the Eagles are at Oceanside on Wednesday for a “good test,” before the playoffs.
WHILE BIDDEFORD LOST 5-0 to rival Thornton Academy on Saturday, the Tigers have been on a steady climb in Western Class A and are 9-3.
“We key on the fundamentals and making the plays we’re supposed to make, and we’ve had good pitching and that keeps you in ball games,” Coach Leon Paquin said.
Abbie Paquette, a junior, and Kristen Lebreux, a sophomore, have alternated as the starting pitcher. The Tigers have shown an ability to win close games, including a 2-1 victory over previously undefeated Cheverus. Last week they topped South Portland 5-4 on Alex Quigley’s two-out, two-run walk-off home run.
Paquin said Quigley had struck out and popped up in her two previous at-bats,“but I always tell them that every time you go up to the plate with a bat in your hands it’s a weapon. Every at-bat is different. I don’t care if you’re 0 for 4, 0 for 5, if I send you to the plate I have confidence in you.”
HERE’S A SCARY thought for the rest of Western Class A: Scarborough ace Alyssa Williamson, who will pitch at Drexel next year, has only six of the unbeaten and top-ranked Red Storm’s 12 wins. Last week junior Sophia Burnham (4-0) shut out Marshwood and freshman Abbie Murrell earned her second win, 13-3 against Windham.
In between, Williamson showed how dominant she can be, one-hitting Cheverus in a 4-0 victory. Williamson got similar rest during her junior season then went 4-0 in the playoffs, allowing eight runs and finishing with a 10-strikeout game in the state championship game against Skowhegan.
NEXT MONDAY WILL serve as a playoff preview for the top teams in Eastern Class B. Top-ranked Nokomis (13-0) hosts No. 2 Gardiner (12-0), and No. 3 Hermon (11-1) is at No. 4 Old Town (10-0). The three teams are separated by just six points in the Heal points standings.
Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at: