One of the University of Maine softball program’s most successful senior classes will play its final three games at Kessock Field on the UMaine campus in Orono this weekend.
The Black Bears look to close in on a top-two regular-season finish that would give them a valuable first-round bye for the America East tournament.
Eight seniors lead UMaine into a three-game series against Binghamton, including a noon doubleheader on Saturday and an 11 a.m. Seniors Day game on Sunday.
UMaine (18-19 overall, 7-3 in conference play) concludes the regular season with a three-game set at Stony Brook the following weekend.
UMass Lowell leads America East at 10-2, Albany is 9-4 and Stony Brook is 7-4.
These seniors joined a UMaine program that posted a 61-120-1 record (27-42-1 America East) in its previous four seasons. The Black Bears are 39-21 in league play and 87-87 overall since their arrival.
The group helping UMaine won the 2016 league championship and is 22-9 at Kessock Field.
Pitcher Annie Kennedy (24-14 record, nine saves, 2.61 earned run average, 165 strikeouts, 34 walks in 91 appearances and 290 innings) and center fielder Rachel Carlson (.319 career batting average, 88 runs scored, 40 runs batted in in 181 games) headline the list.
The others are right fielder Erika Leonard (168 games, .288, 107 runs, 10 homers, 75 RBIs), first baseman Kristen Niland (121 games, .246, 30 runs, four homers, 36 RBIs), second baseman Sarah Coyne (114 games, .208, 38 runs), 1B-pinch hitter Faythe Goins (79 games, 2 homers, 13 RBIs), pitcher Molly Flowers (95 appearances, 287 2/3 innings, 22-32, 4.01 ERA, 288 strikeouts, 227 walks, 2 saves) and outfielder Julianna Ferguson, who has endured an injury-marred 13-game career.
“They helped our program reach a level where we’re able to compete for championships every year. That’s always the goal. They helped get our program going in a new direction,” coach Mike Coutts said.
Coutts praised each one individually and pointed out that Leonard won the Dean Smith Award as one of the school’s top three student-athletes while juggling a gruelling nursing curriculum and softball.
Kennedy, who has a league-low 1.35 ERA this season, has shown tremendous growth maturity-wise, he said. Coyne is considered UMaine’s grittiest and fiercest competitor by Coutts.