McKayla Kortes, who led York to the Class B state championship last season, already has thrown a no-hitter this spring and has 16 RBI in just five games. Morning Sentinal file photo

The York High softball team won three of four preseason scrimmages, but the Wildcats knew they didn’t play as well as they could. When you’re a defending state champion, expectations are high.

Even the hardest grader, however, would have to give the Wildcats high marks for the way they’ve begun the regular season. York is 5-0, having outscored opponents 66-12 while winning each game by at least six runs.

“We just weren’t playing great,” Coach Kevin Giannino said of the preseason. “Then the season started, and we just kicked it into gear,”

At the heart of the Wildcats’ start has been McKayla Kortes, a two-time All-State pitcher who plays third base when she doesn’t pitch. Kortes already has a no-hitter and a 14-strikeout game in the circle, and three-hit and four-hit games at the plate, the latter of which included two home runs and nine RBI.

“It’s a stronger start than I’ve usually had,” said Kortes, a senior who has signed to play at Merrimack College. “I know I have a standard I have to play up to, and I have personal expectations. If I don’t meet those, I don’t feel like I’ve done my job. It’s a lot of goal-setting for myself.”

Kortes is hitting .650 with 13 hits, three home runs and 16 RBI. In three games as a pitcher, she’s 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA and 31 strikeouts.


“It’s been fun to see. McKayla is a special player,” Giannino said. “You don’t see too many girls that can hit the ball as hard as she does, consistently. The ball just screams off her bat.”

Kortes reached a pair of milestones in a win over Poland, notching her 300th strikeout as a pitcher and her 100th RBI.

“When I was little, I was horrible in Little League, so I never saw myself hitting this,” she said. “I’m definitely going to push myself for more. It’s not going to stop there.”

Kortes has been the leader, but she hasn’t had to do it herself. Even while absorbing injuries to No. 2 pitcher Maren Robinson (ACL) and first baseman Maddie Fitzgerald (sprained ankle), who has a .692 batting average, York has kept rolling. Nya Avery, Ava Brent and Emily Estes have been among the top offensive players, while freshman Sarah Orso, whose sister, Abby, starred for the Wildcats before playing at Colby College, has thrown a no-hitter and is batting .476.

“She’s been great. She throws hard, and she keeps the ball down,” Giannino said. “She’s an outstanding hitter, she’s patient, she’s smart. She’s played a lot of softball.”

Kortes said she’s been impressed with Orso’s ability.


“She probably has a lot of expectations since she’s Abby’s sister, but she’s definitely living up to them,” she said. “She’s a crazy athlete, and she’s just so good. I’m proud and happy for her.”

AFTER A SEASON of struggles, Freeport has rediscovered its winning ways.

The Falcons are 6-0, one year after finishing near the bottom of the Class B South Heal point standings at 3-13. Included among those wins are victories over Gardiner (9-7), Poland (5-3) and Lake Region (6-3), teams that have been Class B contenders the past few seasons.

Freeport’s first-year head coach, Chris St. Pierre, said the Falcons came into this season expecting success, even after enduring a difficult season last spring. Now they’re looking more like the team that was 11-5 in 2022, perhaps even better.

“The mentality was that they weren’t expecting to have the season they had last year,” he said, “and they didn’t want to repeat the same outcome. … We’ve got a bunch of girls that want to see their hard work pay off for them.”

While Freeport has held three teams to one or no runs and has scored five or more runs five times, St. Pierre said he’s been most impressed by his team’s defense. Pitcher Isabella George and catcher Vanessa St. Pierre have provided a reliable battery, shortstop Rosie Panenka and third baseman Alison Brown have anchored the infield, and Celia Cobb and Lilliana Larochelle have shown good range in the outfield.


“A lot of it is our defense. We’ve struggled at times with our bats, and we’ve also had games where our bats were on fire and we couldn’t put them out,” Chris St. Pierre said. “(But) you can’t solely rely on just one single pitcher to always have a good game. If it’s a mediocre game, you have to rely on your other strengths to get you through.”

MEDOMAK VALLEY has followed a pretty straightforward formula to its strong start.

“Our hitting has been doing very well, and our pitching has been doing very well,” Coach Richard Vannah said. “Good mix.”

Simplistic, sure, but also accurate. The Panthers went 10-6 last year and 11-5 in 2022, so success is nothing new. This spring, they’ve roared out to a 6-1 start that has them ranked second in Class B South, behind only York.

“I expected us to be stronger. (A) 6-1 (mark), I don’t know if anybody expects to have that good a record after seven games,” Vannah said. “But I expected this group to be strong. I knew I had a lot of hitters, I’ve got a little bit of speed, a little bit of power, and just some good contact hitters.

“And when you have a pitcher that’s as good as Madi (Boynton), you’re in every game regardless of if you’re hitting or not.”

The piece Vannah knew he could count on has delivered. Boynton has pitched like an ace, with double-digit strikeouts in six of seven games, and 74 altogether in 40 innings.

Meanwhile, the lineup supporting Vannah has become formidable. Year-round softball players Claudia Feeley (first base), Kendall Simmons (third base) and Arianna Sproul (center field) are hard hitters in the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 spots, and leadoff hitter Peyton Eaton and No. 6 hitter Haley Puchalski are batting over .500.

“I think we can contend,” Vannah said. “I think we can give anybody a good game on any night.”

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