Admittedly, Ray Magnant didn’t know much about the girls on the Massabesic High softball team in Waterboro when he took the job. What he’s quickly discovered is he’s got a pretty good team.

Entering today’s home game with top-ranked South Portland, Massabesic was ranked fourth in Western Class A with a 4-1 record — lofty heights seldom seen by the Mustangs.

“When I took the job, I only knew a couple of girls and that was by hearsay,” said Magnant, previously the freshman and junior varsity coach at Biddeford. “I knew about Emily (Schatz) and Dani (Egan), but that was pretty much it. I heard we had a lot of scrappy players.

“Well, it’s a good bunch and they’re playing well together. There aren’t too many things that faze them. It’s a good bunch. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

And the Mustangs are doing this without one of their best players. Junior Gabby Townsend, who transferred from McAuley, injured a knee in the second game of the season and is expected to be out at least another three weeks. She was the starting second baseman, leadoff batter and pitcher, along with Egan.

“She’s just a great all-around player,” said Magnant. “And when you take her out of the lineup, you lose something,”

What has kept the Mustangs going is Egan’s pitching, great defense (led by Schatz at shortstop) and timely hitting. The Mustangs don’t strike out often. They put the ball in play and make the opposing defense make plays.

The lone loss was 12-0 at Westbrook. But the Mustangs rebounded to beat Biddeford 2-1 the next game as Schatz figured in both runs, knocking in one with a triple and then scoring after hitting another triple.

“That loss actually helped us,” said Magnant. “We came together; we know that we have to play hard every day.

“I just tell the girls, take one game at a time, one pitch at a time. We’ll deal with everything else as it happens.”

ROUND ONE of the Greely-Fryeburg Academy showdown went to the visiting Rangers from Cumberland last week, a surprising 8-1 victory over the defending Class B state champs.

“It’s definitely a huge confidence booster,” said Greely Coach Sarah Jamo. “We’ve been talking about that since the very beginning of preseason, that we can play with anyone if we play with confidence. We proved that last week.”

Greely scored three times in the first inning, then kept the pressure on the Raiders.

“It was definitely a key that we were able to keep putting runs up,” said Jamo. “It helped relax Dani (Cimino, the Greely pitcher) and helped her find her rhythm.”

Round Two comes May 30, the last day of the regular season. That game could have huge Heal point ramifications, but Jamo isn’t thinking that far ahead.

“I’ve told the girls it doesn’t matter who you’re playing,” she said. “Play to your potential and worry about what you need to do in your at-bat, in the field, and the wins will take care of themselves.”

OTHER FIRST-YEAR coaches in the area include:

Cheverus’ Maureen Curran (formerly of South Portland), Deering’s Greg Goan, Portland’s Kelly Libby (formerly of Sacopee Valley), Westbrook’s Dee Allen (formerly of Portland), Freeport’s Carrie Green, Boothbay Region’s Whitney Hurley and Wiscasset’s Claire Daniels.

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

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH