Jaden Lohr of Mt. Ararat rounds third after a a single by teammate Emily Wormwood during a game on Monday against Freeport at Mt. Ararat Middle School in Topsham. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

TOPSHAM — It’s been nearly two seasons since the last time the Mt. Ararat softball team played a regular season game.

The 686-day drought came to an end Monday, when the Eagles thumped Freeport 9-3 at Mt. Ararat Middle School.

There are, of course, a lot of changes to the sport as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Players and umpires are masked at all times. The home plate umpire is also positioned well behind home plate, to allow for social distancing.

“It’s been tough to go through the season without some of our usual team activities, but we’ve found creative ways to make it work,” said Mt. Ararat winning pitcher Megan Reed, who struck out seven and allowed eight hits. “Overall, once we step on the field it’s still the same game it’s always been.”

Megan Reed of Mt. Ararat winds up to pitch during Monday’s game against Freeport at Mt. Ararat Middle School in Topsham. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

While it may take time for teams to adjust to the new safety measures, the Eagles and Falcons seemed mostly unfazed Monday.  

“As a pitcher, we’re all just going to have to get used to the umpire situation,” said Reed. “Coach (Terri Tlumac) emphasizes to not let that get in the way of my command.”

Freeport sophomore starting pitcher Ava Gervais, who was in middle school the last time the Falcons played a regular season game, said it’s a unique time to start a varsity softball career. 

“It was really disheartening to lose my freshman season; it just gives us more motivation for this season,” she said. “To be out on the mound with a mask on is, let’s just say interesting, but I’ve gotten used to it.”

The Falcons feature an almost entirely new team, with only two returning starters from the 2019 season. Head coach Jason Daniel said he was pleased with what he saw Monday. 

“I’m not even looking at the scoreboard today,” said Daniel, who started four freshmen (Norah Albertini, Amanda Panciocco, Rosie Panenka, and Isabella Plante). “We saw some really good things today, it was just the little things that hurt us in the end.”

Indeed; a few Freeport errors resulted in five unearned runs.

“Those are the things we can get better at, we’re so young and have a lot of potential,” said Daniel. “I thought Ava (Gervais) was great, our bats were good, we did a lot of good things here today.”

The Mt. Ararat lineup provided Reed plenty of support, blowing open the game in the sixth inning.

Ava Gervais of Freeport slides home after an errant throw to get Freeport on the board during Monday’s game against Mt. Ararat in Topsham. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

Freshman Lexie Dupre highlighted the inning with a two-run single as the Eagles grabbed an eight-run lead. 

Reed finished with two hits including a double in the first inning. Jaden Lohr added two hits and scored two runs, and Breanne Hunter reached base in all four plate appearances, crossing home twice.

“Everyone did something today to contribute, we had a good approach at the plate and made each at-bat count,” said Reed, who earned the victory in the circle.

Despite the loss, Gervais said it was a thrill to play a game.

“It was a rush to be out there, it felt so awesome,” said Gervais. “Everything within the game seems to be a lot quicker at this level.”

The Eagles jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning before the Falcons cut the lead in half in the second. The Eagles plated two more in the fourth and another in the fifth. 

The Falcons added two runs in the seventh on a Gervais triple that stayed just inside the yard, but Reed shut the door on any comeback attempt to earn the victory. 

“We just played our game and had fun while doing it,” said Tlumac. “This was the perfect start for us this season, now we just have to maintain this level of play.”

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