ORONO, ME—The University of Maine at Presque Isle Women's Softball program (1-1) opened their 2016 season against the Beavers from the University of Maine at Farmington (1-1) on Saturday at the Mahaney Dome in Orono. UMF would take game one by a score of 12-4 before the Owls would come back and earn a split, winning the second game 5-3.
Game 1 – UMF def. UMPI 12-4
In the first contest, UMF was the first to draw blood in the top of the second inning when Kylie Cunningham (FR, Bangor, ME) and Tasha DeRoche (Peru, ME) combined for two runs.
The Owls would pick away, effectively getting runners on base but were unable to get a run on the board until the third inning when senior Katie Patenaude (Presque Isle, ME) grounded to short-stop and sophomore Carly Bell (Presque Isle, ME) scored on a UMF throwing error.
"We said coming into these games that we needed to put the ball in play and be aggressive on the base paths to put pressure on their defense. I think we did that. We may have been a little too aggressive at times and as a result ran ourselves into outs but we also made UMF make some tough plays. And that's all you can ask for," stated Sara Shaw, second-year Head Coach for the owls.
Solid defense by the owls held the score at 2-1 through the bottom of the fourth inning when UMPI tied the game 2-2 as sophomore pitcher Sara Packard (St. Albans, ME) was driven in on a sacrifice bunt by Jordi Legassie (FR, Presque Isle, ME).
UMPI would hold the Beavers scoreless until the top of the 6th inning when Cunningham and DeRoche again combined for two more runs, giving UMF the 4-2 advantage. The Owls battled back in the bottom of the 6th to tie the score as Packard and freshman Dalynn Jacobs (Riverside, RI) scored on a single by senior Amanda Allen (Limestone, ME).
The Beavers would ultimately go on to have a big 7th inning and outscored the Owls 12-4 in the first contest.
'We played really well in the first game. Sometimes teams just string together hits and you have to give credit where credit is due. They started getting on us, we made a pitching change to try to throw off their timing. We are fortunate to have multiple pitchers who each give us something different. Sara and Hannah pitched well. Unfortunately, sometimes a team is just in a groove," said Shaw.
Game 2 – UMPI def. UMF 5-3
The Beavers' offense came out strong in the first inning of the second contest tallying three runs off a perfect storm of base hits and errors, but the Owls regained their composure defensively to begin the second inning and never looked back, shutting down the UMF offense for the remainder of the game.
For the UMPI, Legassie scored the first run after being hit in by a Patenaude sacrifice fly ball to centerfield in the first inning. Legassie once again came up big for the owls in the 3rd inning driving in freshman Hannah Williams (Park Falls, NS) with a deep home-run to right-center field, tying the game 3-3.
In the bottom of the fourth the Owls' offense proved to be too much for the Beavers, and the owls scored another two runs; all they needed to earn their first win of the season. Freshman Mikayla Churchill (Washburn, ME) was hit by a pitch and was then moved over by an Allen sacrifice bunt. She would later score on a double by freshman Dinah Bilodeau (Knox, ME). Bilodeau then scored on a Williams single, giving the owls all they would need to land the victory.
"What we had in that second game was a perfect example of a team effort. Everyone made an impact. It's exciting to see these girls buy into the program and see the fruits of their labor on game day," said Shaw.
The UMPI Women's Softball program went 11-15 last year, the greatest winning percentage in the program's recent years. They garnered numerous post-season awards including having six of their players named to the Association of Division III Independents All Independents Teams with one also being named to the USCAA All-American list. The team also narrowly missed being selected for the USCAA national tournament last year, ranking just the outside of the top ten in the country in the USCAA.
"This program has a bright future ahead. The girls are buying into the program. Sure, we'll have our ups and downs throughout the season, just like any other team. But I think these girls know they are a part of the beginning of something very special here at UMPI," said Shaw of her team and their outlook for the remainder of the 2016 season.
The owls next travel to New Hampshire to take on the Eagles from Daniel Webster College in the Hampshire Dome at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Sunday.