Theresa Hendrix gathered her Cheverus/North Yarmouth Academy softball team down the right field foul line before Monday’s game against Gorham and had a simple message for her players:

“Everything we do today, we do together … we have each other.”

The Stags would be no-hit on Monday by Gorham’s Grace McGouldrick in a 13-0 loss. But this has still been a turnaround season for the team, and that team-first attitude is a big reason.

Cheverus/NYA is 3-8 entering Wednesday’s home game with Massabesic, sitting in 13th place in Class A South – one spot out of the playoffs. That might not seem like much, but for a program that was coming off back-to-back winless seasons and snapped a 46-game losing skid this year, that’s a big improvement.

“This group of girls is special because they never give up,” said Hendrix. “They recognize that each day they get better and they continue to learn. They have become students of the game.

“The special part is that they care more about their teammates and the team’s success than their own, that when one player is down, they become the positive vibe that picks them up and pulls them back into focus.”

The Stags lost their first six games this year, two by one run. They gained their first win since May 11, 2015 with an 11-10 victory over Bonny Eagle on May 4. Sophomore catcher Alex Hammond hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth to put the Stags ahead for good.

That was followed by a 7-5 win over Maine Girls’ Academy/Falmouth, and a wild 30-18 win over Deering. The winning streak ended last Friday with a 13-9, eight-inning loss to Kennebunk. The Stags had scored five in the bottom of the seventh to tie it.

Then came the loss to Gorham. The Rams scored eight runs in the second but Cheverus/NYA kept trying to fight back.

“That’s what I love about this team, they just battle to the end,” said Hendrix. “That’s one thing we pride ourselves on.”

Gorham Coach Renee Whipkey was impressed with the Stags’ effort. “This league is so competitive,” she said. “The Cheverus program has grown a lot and they came out with a lot of energy.”

Senior center fielder and captain Emily Haley said even with the loss Monday, “it’s feels pretty good. We’re much more competitive, much more confident then past years … I credit it to the coaching staff and the girls and just being able to be positive in every inning.”

GORHAM IS trying to take that next step as a program as well. The Rams were 10-8 last year, losing in the quarterfinals, and are looking for even more this year. At 9-3, they’ve moved into fourth in Class A South.

“We’re doing really good this year and it’s felt so good,” said McGouldrick, one of the best all-around players in the state. “The past couple of years we’ve done fine, middle of the pack, but this year we’re really stepping up and I feel like as a team we’re really clicking more.”

McGouldrick said this team is very close. “It’s really helping us on the field and off the field that we’re so close,” she said. “It’s helped us produce and get so much better.”

Gorham’s three losses have been to the three teams ahead of it: 5-0 to No. 2 Noble, 12-3 to No. 1 Scarborough and 3-2 to No. 3 Thornton Academy.

FRYEBURG ACADEMY entered the season as a great unknown in Class B South. The Raiders were the defending regional champs but graduated their pitcher, best hitter and several key players.

But here they are at 8-2 and again atop Class B South entering Wednesday’s game with Gray-New Gloucester.

Coach Fred Apt is as surprised as anyone. “We are definitely a lot better than I anticipated,” he said. “There is no way I would have guessed we’d win eight games all year, to be honest with you. We have. And if we keep playing the way we’re playing, as long as we want to compete, we’ll be OK.”

Freshmen pitcher Emilia DeSanctis and catcher Morgan Fusco have been impressive. The infield defense has been superb – sophomore Kayley Emery at first, junior Caroline Condon at second, junior Tina LeBlanc at shortstop and sophomore Paige O’Connell at third – and the offense is consistent. O’Connell and LeBlanc are both hitting over .600, Emery over .400.

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

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