File photo of Bucksport softball head coach Mike Carrier. Credit: Ashley L. Conti

There are very few teams in any sport that can rival the accomplishments of the Bucksport High School softball program.

The Golden Bucks have won six regional championships and four state titles over the past seven years. They won the regional title in Class B in 2011 before dropping to C the next year.

They are coming off a 20-0 season that culminated in a come-from-behind 2-1 win over defending state champ Madison in the state Class C championship game for their second crown in three years. Madison had beaten them 3-1 in the 2016 final.

Mike Carrier’s Bucks are poised to contend for another one this season.

Ace right-hander Katelin Saunders is back for her senior year. She fired a two-hit gem against Madison with 13 strikeouts and three walks. The only run off her was unearned.

Standout catcher MaKenzie Smith is also back. Smith’s clutch two-out, two-run single in the fifth inning erased Madison’s 1-0 lead. Smith is also a senior and is a four-year starter.

Another four-year starter is shortstop Darian Jellison.

Coach Mike Carrier also has a pair of returning starters at first and third in seniors Maggie Bires and Hannah Ashmore.

Brittney DeWitt, a junior who was a utility player last season, is the second baseman. She is replacing the graduated Emily Hunt.

“We’re set up pretty good in the infield,” said Carrier, who noted that Jellison played errorless ball during seven challenging preseason games.

The Bucks will have to replace graduated center fielder Madysen Robichaud, the Penobscot Valley Conference’s Class C Player of the Year last season.

Bucksport will be inexperienced in the outfield. Sophomores Kiah Wilson and Zoe Hosford will be first-time starters in center and left, respectively, and junior Mikayla Tripp returns in right. Hosford is replacing Kylee Atwood.

“Mikayla has improved immensely. She has become one of the best players around,” said Carrier, who also noted that Tripp is his number two pitcher.

“She’s very good. She throws harder than Katelin but she’s not as accurate,” Carrier said.

Tripp and Smith were ripping the ball during the preseason according to Carrier and will be the offensive catalysts along with lead-off hitter Jellison, who can both slap the ball and hit for power.

“Darian is the prototype leadoff hitter,” Carrier said. “She takes what the defense give her. If the infielders move in, she can slap it by them. If they stay back, she can drag a bunt.”

Hannah Stevenson is the designated player and Brooke Megno is a utility player. Both are seniors.

Carrier said he has “five or six players who can hit it out.”

Carrier said he has a couple of speedy freshmen in Britney Bussey and Abby Foss who will be used as courtesy runners or pinch-runners. Alexis Wardwell is an outfielder and Madison Frazier is a pitcher. Both are also freshmen.

Winning a state championship is the goal every year for the Bucks and Carrier said he expects the Lynx of Lincoln’s Mattanawcook Academy, their opponent in the last three regional championship games, to again be the primary threat.

The two teams actually opened the season against each other in Bucksport on Wednesday and the Bucks prevailed 6-2.

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