BIDDEFORD — When the Biddeford Tigers walked off their home field on April 21, they weren’t holding their heads, despite losing their second straight game by double digits.

This time it was a 17-1 loss to rival Thornton Academy, dropping the Tigers to 0-2. The first loss came two days before, 13-0, to perennial power Scarborough.

Despite the slow start and the lopsided loss to Thornton Academy, Biddeford coach Leon Paquin didn’t waver in his positive outlook.

“We’ll be OK,” he said. “These kids will get some playing time under them and they’ll win some games, and we’ll be in the playoffs.”

At the time, those words could’ve been looked at as coming from a coach who was trying to stay positive in the face of adversity. One could’ve heard them and thought Paquin was saying the right words, but didn’t believe in them.

Paquin, however, did believe, and so did the Tigers.

Biddeford followed up the Thornton loss three days later with a 4-2 loss to Noble before winning its first game against Sanford, 4-3. The Tigers lost the next game, won the game after that and lost one more, but the losses were close as they included a 2-1 setback to Massabesic and a 6-3 loss to McAuley. After the McAuley game, however, something happened as the Tigers suddenly ripped off six straight wins and positioned themselves nicely in the SMAA Heal Point Standings.

What happened that caused the sudden change toward success?

“We didn’t stop playing hard and playing the same regardless of the outcome,” Paquin said. “If we lost, we played hard. If we won, we played hard. We focused on doing it the Tiger way, which is getting strikeouts, playing defense and being aggressive, and it is working.”

The Tigers are now 8-6 after an 18-1 loss to South Portland Monday night.

They are currently ranked sixth in the heal points with only two games left in the regular season.

Although South Portland ended the winning streak, it doesn’t take away from Biddeford’s midseason run. The Red Riots, along with Scarborough and Thornton Academy, is in the top three teams in the SMAA. Biddeford, while not in that upper echelon, has played itself into being a solid team within the league.

Since those early losses, one of the biggest changes has been the play of freshman pitcher Abbie Paquette. Since the McAuley game, and excluding the South Portland contest, she has allowed 10 runs for an ERA of 1.11.

“She’s no longer a freshman,” Paquin said. “She is a solid, solid pitcher.”

The bats, too, came to life as players such as Heather Fecteau, Mariah Albert and Kaitelyn Lebreux have found their offensive grooves.

All three are batting over .300, and the Tigers have scored 27 runs in the past six games.

Lebreux, for example, hit the game-winning double in a tight contest against Kennebunk last week, giving the Tigers a 3-1 win. The hit came shortly after she bounced a ball off her left foot, forcing her to hobble away from the batter’s box for a minute.

The Kennebunk win made a statement for the Tigers, Lebreux said, especially since Kennebunk is 9-4.

“We haven’t had the best record against Kennebunk in previous years,” Lebreux. “We really needed this win, and it gives us a lot of confidence.”

It also wipes away those early struggles against Scarborough and Thornton Academy, placing Biddeford at least in the middle of the playoff pack.

Defense has become this team’s calling card.

The Tigers have made only seven errors in the past seven games.

“We have been playing well defensively, which is what you need to do to win in this league,” Paquin said. “You can’t allow the other team to get extra outs.”

        Comments are not available on this story.

        filed under: