Morse softball head coach Wilfred Laffley talks to his team before their first workout on Monday at Morse High School in Bath. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

After a lost spring because of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020,  baseball and softball returned to high schools across Maine on Monday.

For the first time in 21 months, baseball and softball teams officially practiced as pitchers and catchers threw Monday afternoon.

“It felt like Christmas Eve last night for me; I had a hard time falling asleep (Sunday) night and had a long day of school (Monday),” said Morse senior Ty Knowlton. “It’s really just great to be back out here with the team getting some work in, it’s been too long.”

“I think it’s been 660 days since our last game, but I haven’t been counting,” added Morse baseball head coach Niko Ruiz, who took over the program before the 2019 season. “We couldn’t have asked for a better day either.”

The Shipbuilders were scheduled to hold their first session in the gym, but took advantage of the warm weather Monday and the team worked out on their new turf practice field. 

“We know the guys will show a little rust, but I’m really not concerned with that given how long it’s been since some of them have picked up a baseball,” Ruiz added.

Morse softball players go through their workouts Monday in Bath. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

With the Maine Principals’ Association offering regional and state championships in all sports this spring, many athletes said Monday that finding motivation won’t be an issue this season. 

“As a team, we want to make the playoffs and make some noise, but we’re just taking it one step at a time for now,” Knowlton said. 

The Morse softball team had 12 players work out Monday. On the turf field behind the new Morse High School were three pitching mats with a rubber mound, along with three portable home plates.

“We’re going to use this week to see what we have in the pitching department, then we can worry about the other stuff when the time comes,” said Morse softball head coach Wilfred Laffley. “We don’t know how much these girls have played since we last saw them, and we’re welcoming two new classes that we didn’t get to see because of last year.”

For catcher Abby Carpenter, it was a day that she had been anticipating for a long time.

“I’m very excited, it’s only been a week since basketball ended but I’m ready to go” said Carpenter, a catcher, who will be playing softball at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish next fall. “Next week will be even better.”

In Brunswick, pitchers and catchers were working out in the gym, with the remaining working on throwing and conditioning behind the gym outside.

“I’m excited to see how they look but I’m also curious,” said Brunswick softball coach Hugh Dwyer.

Inside the gym were four stations with pitchers throwing to catchers. A batting cage rested behind the catchers as a makeshift backstop, but it will be utilized by both the baseball and softball teams next week.

With the remainder of spring sports beginning next week and the first games permitted to begin April 15, teams have just over two weeks to get ready for the competition to begin with their full roster.

“I keep telling the girls that we have a lot of time between now and our first game, and it can only go up from here in terms of getting back into it,” Laffley said. “We can’t get discouraged or upset on the first day of practice after a layoff of almost two years, this week is about finding a routine as we build our skills back up.”

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