BAR HARBOR — One of the area’s youngest teams a year ago, the Mount Desert Island High School varsity softball team is now hoping to take the next step.
Last season, all but three members of the team were underclassmen as the Trojans finished the season 5-12 with a loss to Foxcroft in the Class B North prelims. This year, the team has just one senior for the second year in a row, but the team has the pieces to play even further into June.
“We have a lot of good leadership on our team, and it shows,” said Coach Jamey Lewis, who’s starting her third season with the program. “It’s a very similar team to what we had last year, except now the players are all a year older and even more experienced.”
Much of a softball or baseball team’s success comes down to how it performs on the mound, and in Lindsey McEachern, MDI has one of the conference’s top pitchers. In the regular season last year, McEachern finished first in the Penobscot Valley Conference in wins (nine) and innings pitched (89-2/3), and third in strikeouts (105).
MDI’s two biggest bats also will be back in the lineup, including Hannah Chamberlain, who led the entire conference last year with 10 doubles. Maddie Thornton, the lone senior this year, finished first on the team and second in the conference with two home runs.
“Those three are our leaders,” Lewis said. “They’re our go-to players and have always been very reliable for us. They all excel at a bunch of different aspects of the game and have been big assets to our team.”
Yet this year’s MDI team has much more than just a trio of standout players. Maddie Neale, Hannah Hanscom, Emily York and Mackenzie Dyer made significant contributions to the team last year, and those players will provide a boost for the Trojans both on the field and at the plate.
“I think there are going to be a bunch more players who make that leap this year,” Lewis said. “They all have that readiness and that eagerness to get better with every game.”
Against Bucksport last Thursday, signs of that leap were evident. Despite having just nine players available to them, the Trojans fought defending Class C champion Bucksport to the wire before falling 5-3 in the eight- inning exhibition game. Neale had two hits in the game, and Hanscom had a double and scored twice.
“We hit the ball really well and fought a good team the whole way,” Lewis said. “I was really happy with our performance.”
With nearly half the roster gone for the first week of the regular season as a result of April break, the Trojans have had to move their scheduled home games against Belfast. The Trojans will now open their season at home against Ellsworth next Tuesday, April 24, at 4:30 p.m.
“We’re going to have to get going right away,” Lewis said. “When you have four or five games in almost as many days right when the season starts, it’s going to test you. I think our girls are ready for it.”