BREWER, Maine — The Brewer High School softball team made a splash in its first season in Class B last season after moving over from Class A.
The Witches went 20-0 and captured their first state championship since the program won the Class A title in 2008.
Just two players graduated off last year’s team and three All-Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference players return in pitcher Libby Hewes, catcher Jordan Goodrich and shortstop Kenzie Dore.
The Witches are excited about having the opportunity to be the first Brewer softball team ever to win back-to-back state championships. But they also know there are plenty of good teams looking to knock them off, including area rivals Old Town and Hermon.
“What we’re trying to do mostly is to put last year behind us and try to focus on this new group,” said Goodrich, who is a senior. “Even though we lost only two people [center fielder Emily Lord and third baseman M.J. Sellars], their leadership was huge for us last year.”
She also said being a defending state champ can put extra pressure on a team, but being the favorite can be a positive.
“We play better like that, to be honest. Pressure pushes us to play at a better level,” Goodrich said.
Hewes, a senior right-hander, said she isn’t going to feel any extra pressure.
“It’s a new season, new team, new year, new games, new innings. Everything is new. Everything is starting all over for us and we’re so excited for it,” she said.
The pitcher said Brewer will focus on the task at hand.
“We’re just going to play it game by game and see where it takes us,” Hewes said. “We’re ready for all the competition.”
Hewes capped the 2018 campaign with a four-hit shutout in the 1-0 state championship victory over Greely of Cumberland Center. She said her arm feels great.
“Libby is one of the best pitchers around here, in my opinion,” Goodrich said. “She can pretty much throw any pitch and she’s consistent every game.”
Dore, a junior shortstop, was the runner-up for Player of the Year in KVAC B North a year ago. She is coming off knee surgery last summer.
And even though home run leader Sellars and the productive Lord have left, the Witches shouldn’t have trouble scoring runs with the likes of Dore, Hewes, Goodrich, Kathryn Austin, Olivia Cattan and Becca Gideon in the lineup.
Cattan and Gideon are seniors and Austin is a junior.
Coach Skip Estes is experimenting at a number of positions to try to come up with his best defensive lineup.
Dore and Goodrich are back at their natural positions but Gideon, who had been the first baseman, may well be Brewer’s opening-game center fielder.
“Becca has a great arm,” Dore said.
Left fielder Cattan, who made two alert defensive plays in the state game to help save runs, may see some duty at second base. Austin could slide over from second to first.
Sophomore Sarah Kiley played right field as a freshman but could also play left field or second base.
Third base is wide open with sophomores Sarah Wood, Janessa Bishop and Mia Cattan among the candidates.
Senior Ali Cotrrell is an outfielder and junior Zoe Vittum and Mia Cattan can also play in the outfield.
Junior Kate West is a capable No. 2 pitcher according to Estes and Vittum also can pitch.
Dore said she has the utmost confidence in Estes and his coaching staff and their ability to figure out who should play where.
“Once we figure everything out, we’ll be OK,” Dore said. “We just need to focus and get our stuff done.”
Estes said his primary concerns are having his team stay healthy and not developing a case of “senioritis.”
And Brewer’s schedule is challenging.
“There were a lot of good young teams [in Class B] last year and they’re going to be stronger this year,” said Estes.
The Witches are scheduled to open at Gardiner on April 16.