Laurine German of South Portland has enjoyed a breakout season this spring for the University of Maine softball team. The junior shortstop will help lead the Black Bears into the America East tournament beginning Wednesday. Credit: Peter Buehner

Laurine German wasn’t sure if she wanted to play softball in college.

She played volleyball her last two years at South Portland High School and thought about giving volleyball a shot in college.

But after contacting University of Maine softball coach Lynn Coutts, who was interested in having her play softball there, she decided to head north to Orono.

After playing sparingly her freshman year, German became the starting second baseman a year ago. But she broke her hand, which prevented her from playing in the America East tournament.

Mike Coutts, Lynn’s husband, is now the head coach. This season, he decided to move German to shortstop to replace the departed Felicia Lennon.

German has enjoyed a breakthrough season.

Going into Wednesday’s 11 a.m. America East tournament opener against Binghamton at Vestal, N.Y., German is UMaine’s second-leading hitter at .282. She batted .175 last year.

She ranks second on the team in hits (35) and sacrifice bunts (6) and is tied for first with seven doubles. German is third in runs scored (20) and also has 13 runs batted in.

“Through the course of the year, she has been our most consistent hitter,” said Mike Coutts. “She works hard at it. She has started to understand the game. She can handle the bat as well as anyone. She can bunt, squeeze and we hit-and-run with her. She is pretty well-rounded offensively.

“She is also as good an athlete as we have on the team,” added Coutts.

German said she learned a lot during her first two seasons and she has applied that knowledge this year.

“I learned about my swing and what I needed to do mentally …to make sure I had a routine,” said German. “You have to have confidence at the plate. You can’t let a pitcher dominate you. It takes them three pitches to strike you out but it only takes you one pitch to hit the ball.”

She has been pleased with her consistency, including maintaining her production late in the season. She has adhered to Mike Coutts’ philosophy of focusing on quality at-bats and not worrying about statistics.

Coutts said she has made significant strides mentally as she had a tendency to be really hard on herself, which led to bad body language.

“As soon as you show bad body language, you bring negativity to the team,” German said.

“I’ve tried to bring a good positive presence to the field.”

German, who played soccer, softball and volleyball, participated in indoor track and was a diver on the swim team during her high school career, has made steady progress at shortstop.

“It has been a work in progress but she has gotten more aggressive and is attacking the ball more and has worked on getting good angles going for the ball,” said Coutts.

German, the daughter of Estanilao and Laura German, has committed 13 errors in 137 chances.

She loves being back at shortstop, where she played primarily prior to attending UMaine.

“Second base is so much more difficult,” said Germain, one of the team’s hottest hitters entering the tournament with a .357 average in her last five games.

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