Samantha LeBeau Contributing Writer
The UMF Softball season took a hard hit as the university ordered spring sport cancellations in an attempt to restrict the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The women’s softball team was excited to travel to Florida over spring break to kick off their season.
The annual trip to Florida is typically an exciting and challenging week for the softball team, as they play a third of their season (consisting of ten countable season games) within the course of their visit. Head Coach Katherine McKay said in an email interview, “If the season wasn’t cancelled we would be ten games into our season, having competed in all of the games in Florida.”
However, this year the trip was cancelled along with the entirety of spring sports, in an attempt to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. University athletes and fans were left disappointed as they heard the verdict of this decision. While many are not affected by this decision, the senior athletes especially, were left devastated, confused and heartbroken.
McKay would have been coaching her third season this year at UMF. “To say the least, it’s been a difficult transition and a hard reality to accept,” she said.“I know how much it broke my heart to look my three seniors in the eye and tell them they had no senior season.”
Coach McKay was just as disappointed as the players to hear the news regarding the season. “This was a complete surprise. We knew things were getting bad, but it was like a wave hit, starting in the South and continuing up the coast,” she said. “I don’t think anyone believed it would get to this point, but it did, and as devastating as it is, the important thing is the health and wellbeing of the student-athletes and their families.”
Despite this season’s cancellation, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is trying to figure out a way for seniors to have an option for a last season. “The NCAA is figuring out next season what this means for this year’s current seniors and how to give them the option for another season,” McKay said. “The plan is to start next year as if this spring didn’t happen. We will have fall ball as normal and hopefully a healthy 2021 season.”
Prior to the intended Florida trip, the women’s team devoted much of their time to training. Spending up to six days a week practicing in the UMF gym, along with two to three days a week working on strength and conditioning drills. The team planned the trip to Florida from March 14 to 24 for the first portion of their season.
Senior Captain Karen Flaherty was shocked by the news she received. “I was completely surprised that the whole season was cancelled. I knew that our spring training trip in Florida would be cancelled, but to also find out that our entire season was cancelled and to not get one last chance to play softball took me by surprise,” she said. “I was not at all expecting for the whole season to be cancelled.”
Flaherty, who would have been playing her third season at UMF said, “I do not plan on attending UMF for another year to play a final season. I had already taken an extra semester of schooling to finish my senior season this spring, but unfortunately the season got cancelled.” Flaherty was deeply saddened by the news of the season saying, “The cancellation of the season made me feel heartbroken. My heart felt like it just sunk into my chest. It still doesn’t seem real.”
Despite these trying and difficult times due to COVID-19, Flaherty leaves a bit of senior advice to underclassmen athletes, “As a captain, advice that I would give to underclassmen is to play each game like it’s your last because you never know when that game may be your last.”
By Emily Thibodeau Contributing Writer
The UMF softball team recently returned from their spring training trip in Kissimmee, Florida, and played eight games in the surrounding area. Out of the eight games, the team came out with one win.
Kiana Thompson, UMF Senior Community Health major and minor in Coaching, said, “the
The team played eight games over the course of their trip. (Photo by Makao Thompson)
score didn’t show how well the team played.” The Beavers played other college teams that play year round. “We had plenty of chances to pull through with a win but we fell short,” Thompson said. “Throughout the week, we made huge improvements and minimal errors and that’s what we were looking for.”
Thompson didn’t take these losses to heart, but appreciated “this experience going down and hitting the dirt before our conference play starts up was so important and beneficial.”
Brianna Dugan, a Community Health and Education major, has been playing softball for over 12 years and looks forward to playing for UMF. Dugan said, “I’ve been impressing myself since I haven’t played softball in two years.” Dugan plays right field and said she’s “impressed with the teams dynamic, good connection with the ball.”
As the Beavers got away from the snow, Dugan said the weather was “always sunny but windy which made for good playing conditions.” The team was ready to be back on dirt as, as Thompson put it.
“The sun was shining and we weren’t in snow or the gym. Wasn’t the typical warmest Florida weather we were looking for but it was perfect to get outside and play in dirt,” Dugan said. “Considering this was the first time we saw dirt [this year] I think we did decent, and it was relieving, and nice to not be in the cold and snow.”
Their free time away from the field was spent at the shopping and relaxing. The team was able to spend a lot of time getting to know each other; Thompson said they “did a lot of team bonding which was good because of our team being so young.” The te
The Softball Team hit the beach in between practices in Florida. (Photo by Makao Thompson)
am cooked every meal together at the nine-bedroom house they stayed at.
Team manager and Early Childhood Special Education major Alyssa Morin assisted the team with bat checks before the game and kept the playbook during the game.
“The bats used during the games can only be certain ones on an improved list.” Morin said. “I feel good about the upcoming season.”
The team is looking forward to the upcoming season. “We have a lot of potential and room for growth,” said Dugan. “Since there’s only five returning players and 22 total players on the team, I’m excited to see where this season goes, with all the newbies.”
“Having Coach Kat come in last season, we made improvements that I haven’t seen in awhile, and with another year under her belt with returners, I am so excited for what our potential is going to be this year,” Thompson said. “Our conference play is going to be tough but I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people because of what we have to show. I’m looking forward spending my last season as a Beaver with this group of girls.”
The Beavers’s first game was March 23 in Newbury, Massachusetts. You can support them at their first home game on Saturday, April 21, versus Lydon State.
By Alicia Davis – Contributing Writer
On a sunny Sunday afternoon, the UMF softball team had a game against alumni at the softball field. UMF softball beat the alumni team 3-2.
Coach Kat McKay, who will be entering her second year as the softball coach at UMF, felt that the game went well. “For the first year in many years without an alumni game, this
year was fantastic. I believe [the alumni] had an absolute blast,” said McKay. “They showed they still have all the skills to get the job done.”
Kailyn Hill, a junior at UMF and member of the softball team for the past two years, felt that the alumni game was very competitive. “We had a lot of fun. We had a back and forth game, so it was very competitive,” said Hill. “I pitched the first three innings, and then I played first base after.” This upcoming spring will be her third year playing softball for Farmington.
Alison Hamilton, a UMF alum, returned to play for the alumni team. She reclaimed her spot
in right field, where she played all four years during her time on the team at UMF. Hamilton’s favorite part about the game was getting to see her friends she met from softball.
“It was nice to see some former beavs, and reminisce about our time at UMF,” said Hamilton.
Eight alumni showed up to play in the game. “Because the alumni were down a player, the
UMF softball team leant us a player until Coach Pratt came in during the 5th inning to play for us,” said Hamilton.
The game was close to being tied in the end. The alumni and the UMF softball team felt both teams played well. “Our skills were equally matched,” said Hamilton. “We kept scoring back to back until we finally pulled through near the end of the game.”
McKay is looking forward to the spring season. “ I’m truly excited about this spring. We lost a handful of good athletes from our roster last year, but were able to replace and refocus with a large freshman class.”
Alyssa Dillan, a sophomore at UMF who will be playing her second year for the softball team this spring, is looking forward to what the season will bring for the team.
“I have high hopes for the spring season,” said Dillan. “I think that we have a lot of potential right now and I trust coach McKay will help us reach that potential.”
“We are selling pies to support our team to go to Florida in the spring,” said Hill. The softball team has an annual trip during the March spring break to Florida, where they will practice against other teams in preparation for the upcoming season.
People can support the UMF softball team by purchasing pies for their fundraiser. If anyone wants to purchase a pie, they can contact Coach Kat McKay for more details.
By Gavin Elliott – Contributing Writer
UMF’s softball team recently completed their fall ball season with a tight-knit scrimmage that pitted Beaver against Beaver.
The 2017-2018 Softball Team (L to R)
Top row: Coach Kat McKay, Justice Merrill, Alyssa Dillan, Tasha DeRoche, Kailyn Hill, Brianna McGrath, Kayleigh Oberg, Brittany Dugal, and Kalyn Grover.
Bottom row: Melissa Veitch, Amber Grady, Callie Hammer, Margaret Fogarty, Erika Whitman, Taylor Burke, Amber Raymond, and Abby Shields.
Not shown: Kylee Atwood and Hope Faulkingham
(Photo courtesy of Kiana Thompson)
After the scrimmage, UMF sophomore Alyssa Dillian said, “it was a great way to end the [fall ball] season because it was competitive, but also really fun.”
This scrimmage was just one of several ways to help the team bond. According to second-year Head Coach Kat McKay, “the purpose of fall ball is to bring together a group of people, some who have never met or played together, put them on the same page, and start to build unity in what everyone already has knowledge of.”
This especially benefits freshmen who have never had a chance to play with the softball team before. “I felt like a part of the team…I got to understand my new team’s personality,” said Callie Hammer, a UMF freshman.
UMF sophomore Amber Grady echoed her team’s sentiments. “It was definitely a learning experience for all of us.” Along with building skill and communication with the team, the players also learned about one another on a personal level.
Beginning last year, the softball team went on its second annual team bonding trip. This year, the Beavers went camping in Avon, Maine for one night.
“Last year we went canoeing,” said McKay. “It’s about getting the girls out of their comfort zones because they finally start to laugh together and let their guard down.”
Reiterating Coach McKay’s comment, Grady said, “[the camping trip] went really well, we all got to know everyone and see each other come out of our shells.”
Reminiscing about the trip, Erika Whitman, a UMF sophomore, looked at her teammates and laughed, saying she “loved when we sat around the campfire and bonded over pizza and embarrassing stories.”
Smiling and chuckling at Whitman’s comment, UMF sophomore Kalyn Grover added, “my favorite part was definitely watching the sunrise with my teammates,” said Grover.
After a two month break, the team will resume their hard work and practice at the start of the new year, followed by a trip to Clermont, Florida to compete in the 2018 Spring Games in March. Here, the Beavers will play a variety of teams from all over the U.S..
At the Spring Games, the team will not only be together on the field, but also staying together for an entire week. “I’m looking forward to [the Spring Games], being with my team again and hanging out,” said Dillian. “[We] really bond in Florida when [we] get to live together and get our first chance to play against others with our new team.”
Last year in regular season, the team’s only goal was to beat the previous year’s number of wins. However, the team “found so much success, it opened some of the other team’s eyes to UMF being a contender,” said McKay.
Looking forward to the upcoming season, Dillian said, “it will take some work to get to where we left off last season, but I think we are capable of repeating what we did last year, even with our young team.”
Although there is uncertainty about how this year’s team will perform in the spring season, one thing is clear: the team is looking forward to picking up their gloves and bats to prove themselves on the field once again.
By Marissa Chamberlain, Contributing Writer
As the 2017 season approaches, the UMF softball team is looking to be a contender in the North Atlantic Conference (NAC) with new head coach Kat McKay and many strong freshman additions.
Despite being a young team with only one senior and two juniors, McKay is confident in her players’ abilities to succeed this season. “I think that we’re going to turn some heads in the conference this year,” she said.
McKay brings 13 years of coaching experience to the team, including one year as assistant softball coach for the Beavers during the 2015 season. Most recently, she was head softball coach at Poland Regional High School for four years. She has also coached basketball at Poland and soccer and softball at St. Dominic Academy, where she served as assistant athletic director last year.
McKay said that it was hard to leave her job as assistant athletic director, but coaching was ultimately what she wanted to do. “I wanted to be a collegiate softball coach for a while,” she said. “Coaching is what I wanted to do full time.”
Coaching became a passion for McKay due to her experiences as an athlete. “My coaches that I had had in the past were big influences in my life and I wanted to be that for someone else,” she said.
McKay said her favorite part about coaching softball at UMF is the athletes. “They have had some overturn with head coaches in the past few years,” said McKay. “The girls here want to be successful. They have the desire to win and better themselves.”
Kiana Thompson, a junior center fielder, has noticed an unbelievable difference in this year’s team compared to previous seasons. “A huge freshman class that came and more than three pitchers has given us more looks as a competitive team,” Thompson said.
With a roster full of newcomers, Thompson explains that the team is working hard to find their groove. “Chemistry of our team right now is growing,” said Thompson. “As such a young team we are learning day by day on how to play with each other.”
Last year, the team won seven games according to McKay, and Thompson and the rest of the team are looking to build on that. “I want to become closer as a team so we can trust each other on and off the field,” Thompson said. “I think that the NAC will underestimate us and we are going to open some eyes when they see us play.”
Freshman and second baseman Amber Grady said the transition from high school softball to the division three team was nerve wracking, but McKay and her teammates made her feel welcome. “We all support each other on and off the field,” said Grady. “It is nice to know that no matter what we will all have each others back.”
According to McKay, the team will be heading to Florida on March 25. Grady explained that the week-long trip is stacked with 3 double headers and one triple header. Although the team will be enjoying the warm weather, the games aren’t just for fun because the wins and losses count to their season. “These games are going to show us where we are at and where we stand. It will show us our strengths and weaknesses,” said Grady. “I am excited and ready to see us on the field and playing together.”