ORONO – Having eight seniors in your pocket gives potential towards a deep run in any conference tournament, especially in the University of Maine softball team’s case.
“They know what they’re doing,” freshman pitcher Kyleigh O’Donnell said Monday. “They know what the process is, and how they’re going to go about things, and they know how hard they’re going to have to compete to get what they want. “
What they want is another America East title. They’ve experienced it before, but go into a conference tournament stacked with parity in their final year. Going in as the fourth seed, they’ve seen that everyone can beat everyone, which makes this as challenging as any one they’ve ever played in.
“It’s a good thing that anyone can win, that it’s so evenly matched up,” senior outfielder Rachel Carlson said. “But it’s also like, okay, anyone can win, so every single out is so important, so you know that one single mess up can change a whole game. “
No. 5 Binghamton awaits Maine Wednesday when the double-elimination tournament kicks off, which feels appropriate. The Black Bears have knocked off the Bearcats the past two years, meaning all eyes will be on their matchup this time around as well.
“I think the fact that we’ve kicked them out the past two years puts a little more of a target on our backs, but we know that we can play well against them every year, and that we’ve always had great games against them,” Carlson said. “So I think that gives us confidence too. “
One of the reasons Maine is so confident? The team has found a plethora of success playing at the Bearcats’ venue, which is once again where the tournament is held.
“It’s their house, but it’s our place to play,” third baseman Alyssa Derrick said. “And it always will be. Every single year, that’s where we’ve played our best softball. And that’s where we’re going to continue to play our best softball. If you want to host, you host, we’re going to perform.”
Prior to the tournament beginning, O’Donnell was named to the conference’s All-Rookie squad, while Carlson, Erika Leonard, Annie Kennedy, and Laurine German were named to the Second Team.