YORK — The York High softball team took to the gym Monday afternoon with high spirits – and some high motivation as well.

The Wildcats were among the softball and baseball teams throughout the state that kicked off their seasons with the first day of workouts for pitchers and catchers, and they were excited to get the spring season underway after going 18-2 and finishing the regular season as the top-seeded team in Class B South last year.

“This is the (most fun) season of the year,” junior third baseman and pitcher McKayla Kortes said. “And I know everybody else on the team feels the same way. … I think we’re all excited just to get back on the field and start playing again.”

The Wildcats are also spurred on by how that season ended. York dominated for most of the year, but ran into a resilient opponent and some bad breaks in the B South final en route to a 3-2 upset loss to eventual state champion Gardiner.

For the returning York players, Monday wasn’t just about starting a new season, but about a chance to start making up for a disappointment in an old one.

“I’ve been thinking about it basically all year,” senior pitcher and third baseman Maddy Raymond said. “Not being able to get the result we wanted was definitely frustrating, but I think it just adds that much more motivation going forward to try to get to that level again, and hopefully come out with a better result.”


Raymond struck out 11 Tigers on that June evening, but two unearned runs and six stranded runners led to a surprising defeat for a team on a roll.

“We did a lot of stewing,” York Coach Kevin Giannino said. “That was a tough way to lose. … Just a number of things that happened throughout that game. You need some luck to be a state champion, but you don’t need bad luck.

“That’s all part of the game. We had plenty of opportunities to win. Hopefully with the grace of God and good luck, we’ll get back there this year and change the outcome. That’s our goal.”

York might have the team to accomplish it. The Wildcats bring back their excellent pitching in Raymond and Kortes, who went 9-1 with a 1.53 ERA and 9-1 with a 1.47 ERA, respectively.

“Maddy and I work really well together,” said Kortes, a Varsity Maine All-State selection last spring who has committed to Division I Merrimack College. “Together we can just shut down a game, and I feel like that’s really helpful. We know how each of us pitches, so we can work on our game to better the other.”

Kortes (.583 average, six home runs) and Raymond (.515, five home runs) are also back as dangerous bats in the middle of the lineup, and Ava Brent, Emily Estes, Ella Moon, Carlie Welch and Ella Hickey are back after playing big roles for the Wildcats last season.


“Knowing that we have so much talent coming back is a huge thing, but also just the bond that this team has,” Raymond said. “For those few players that haven’t been a part of the program before, they’re going to see that.”

There are holes to fill – freshman shortstop Alexis Osterhaus and junior catcher Maggie Hanlon are not back – but Giannino likes the continuity with his group, as well as the options among the 25 players showing up to plug those holes.

“You never know, you just hope that it’ll come together. But they have really high expectations of themselves,” he said. “We should be solid again. … With the talent they have, there’s no reason they can’t be in the (championship) conversation at the end of the year.”

The first steps toward cashing in on that promise and talent came Monday. Pitcher and catcher workouts mean plenty of throwing and conditioning drills, but Giannino said the real value of the week goes beyond the structure of the practice.

“We’ll do a lot of running and throwing today, but more important than that is just getting the girls together,” he said. “After what we’ve been through with the pandemic, just to have those girls hanging out with one another and smiling and laughing and having fun again, it’s great to see.”

A little motivation never hurts, too.

“As soon as the last game last year ended, we’ve just had our eyes set on (this) year,” Kortes said. “We have so much determination. … We’re all really dead-set on winning this year.”

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