Team concept, returning players key to Lions' success
Belfast — The following is a synopsis of the 2014 Belfast Area High School softball team:
Coach/years coached current team: Chris Bartlett, 10th season.
Last year's record/playoff information: 7-9, 12th in Eastern Class B. The No. 12 Lions fell to No. 5 Nokomis of Newport 4-1 in a preliminary playoff game.
Roster: Seniors Ashley Littlefield (pitcher), Dakota Black (first base), Paige Pray-Smith (right field), Grace Davis (pitcher, first base) and Elida Mehuren (outfield); junior Casey Thayer (center field); sophomores Mariah Sturgis (catcher), Breann Cummings (third base), Kelci Faulkingham (left field), Anna Simmons (shortstop), Hannah Nichols (second base), Kelci Dyer (utility), Sarah Howie (outfield) and Chelsea Chiaramonte (outfield); and freshman Ayla Skidgel (utility).
Known graduation losses: Katrina Lapham, Killyan Richards, Alexis Porter and Jordan Ghent.
Significant impact players: Littlefield, Sturgis, Thayer and Cummings.
Team strengths: Senior leadership, youth and athleticism.
Team goals: To get better every day and to make a deeper run in this year's Eastern Class B playoffs.
Top league opponents: Oceanside of Rockland/Thomaston, Nokomis and Winslow.
Outlook: The Lions must overcome the loss of Lapham, one of the team's top hitters and starting catcher from last year's team. Not only was she Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B first-team all star, but a Courier Publications schoolgirl athlete-of-the-year finalist.
However, Sturgis will take duties behind the plate this season and catch for Littlefield, who was named the starting pitcher midway through last season. Throw in a talented sophomore class and the fact Belfast returns seven starters from last year's squad, and the Lions should be poised for a return to the postseason come June.
“I have a great group of girls who have been working hard and are eager to learn and the biggest thing is that they all understand and believe in team concept,” said Bartlett. “They play the game for each other and building that bond is a huge key for success.”