April 30, 2017, a span of 1,455 days since the UMPI Owls Softball team hosted a home softball game in Presque Isle. Due to the long winters in Northern Maine, it is not uncommon for the UMPI spring sports teams to go years without hosting a home game. However, this past Saturday the Owls hosted North Atlantic Conference opponent Northern Vermont University-Lyndon for a pair of doubleheaders. While breaking the four-year drought, the team swept their opponent, setting a new school record for NCAA wins in a row with 12 straight wins.
Fifth year senior captain Sarah Duncklee (Kearney, AZ) spoke about the UMPI community, "Our team has always had such a great support system even though we are typically on the road, so we are beyond thankful for the support the community brought to our first home games in four years, and all the hard work that was put into making it happen. It was beyond exciting to not only sweep this past weekend at home, but also making it our teams longest program winning streak!"
Typically, UMPI is forced to travel 2.5 hours south to play in Orono or Bangor to host home events in the spring. Leading up to the week of their first potential home game of the season the Owls were excited to practice on their home field located at Presque Isle High School. Then the weather took a turn for the worse when a late April snowstorm came through making the PIHS field unplayable.
The UMPI Athletics Department in collaboration with multiple departments on campus and the PIHS/PIMS Athletics Department worked quickly to come up with a plan B, to ensure our softball players were able to play their first collegiate softball game in Aroostook County. Everyone worked around the clock to create a temporary softball field at the Gehrig Johnson Athletic Complex located next to the Presque Isle Middle School. The Gehrig Johnson Athletic Complex includes a turf soccer field that UMPI was able to create a temporary backstop and outfield fencing to host the Hornets for the four-game weekend.
Senior captain Melanee Terry (Moreno Valley, CA) elaborated on the UMPI family, "It was very special getting to share this past weekend with my teammates and coach. So many people helped us make those games happen. I am so blessed to be a part of the UMPI athletic department and the great people involved."
With their 12th conference win in a row the Owls are now 13-7 overall and 12-4 within the North Atlantic Conference where they sit in 2nd place of the NAC East Division heading into the last week of play. UMPI will finish out the regular season in a pair of doubleheaders against NAC East 3rd rank Terriers of Thomas College this upcoming Saturday and Sunday in Presque Isle.
"UMPI and Presque Isle is a special place where everyone works together for the betterment of their community and is always willing to go above and beyond to support one another. A special thank you to everyone that helped out this weekend to make this possible for our softball team," Executive Director of Athletics and Recreation Dan Kane commented on this past weekend.
Only two current members of the UMPI team were associated with the team the last time UMPI hosted a home game. Fifth year senior captain Delanie Strout (Greene, ME) and second year Head Coach Alissa Edwards, who at that time was a player.
Delanie Strout talked about having home games in her final year, "It's always been something we've been hopeful for in prior years, and thankfully the weather stayed on our side this spring so we were able to get them in. Games have been great in general, but it is different when you get to play on your home field. It felt great to have the people who have supported us for years on the road finally be able to see us play in person, and it was amazing to see how great the weekend turned out."
When asked about coaching her first home games, Coach Edwards said, "It was very special being able to share such a moment with all of the girls and our amazing UMPI community. The amount of time and work put in to make these games possible was incredible. The girls and I are so thankful to everyone who helped and made it possible. Getting to play at home was great for our six graduating seniors who had never had the opportunity to experience home collegiate games. Getting the weekend sweep to continue our streak just made the whole experience even better."