Caroline Tracey pitches for the Sumner Memorial High School softball team in a recent spring 2022 game. Credit: Courtesy of Mike Sargent

The last time Sumner Memorial High School of East Sullivan won more than nine softball regular season games, it was 2009.

Coming into this season, Sumner had just two winning seasons since that season, which ended with a record of 14-2. The Tigers were 8-6 during the regular season a year ago and 9-7 in 2015.

They went a combined 42-102 in those other nine seasons between 2010 and 2021.

But head coach Mike Sargent received a nice surprise last summer when junior Caroline Tracey returned to the school after living for several years in Alabama. Tracey is a pitcher and has helped Sumner post a 10-2 record so far this season in Class C North. The only losses came to perennial state championship contender Bucksport.

“She’s the best pitcher we’ve had since we went to the states in 2007,” said Sargent, whose daughter Nichole pitched for that Sumner team before having a stellar career at Husson University along with her sister Lona.

Tracey was one of three Tigers selected to the Downeast Athletic Conference All-Star team for Classes C and D players.

She has struck out 99 hitters in just 45 innings for an average of 2.2 strikeouts per inning. She struck out 17 in an 11-6 win over Washington Academy of East Machias on April 27.  

Sargent said she has been “dominant” and has a variety of pitches including a curve, dropball, screwball and change-up.

She beat defending state Class D champ Searsport 3-1 last week. Searport’s only two previous losses, both by two runs, came to Bucksport and Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln, who are both 12-1 and are one-two in the Class C North Heal points standings, respectively.

Rachel Colby, one of just two seniors on the team, is the third baseman and the team’s captain. She was selected the DAC’s Player of the Year thanks to her .463 average and .658 slugging percentage.

Colby is a four-year starter who is also an exceptional leader.

“She’s one of the best players I’ve had in my 11 or 12 years of doing this,” said Sargent, who added that Colby has hit a pair of homers.

Colby is also the team’s No. 2 pitcher and has struck out 58 in 28 innings (2.07 per inning).

Tracey and Colby have held opponents to two runs or less six times in 12 games.

Sophomore catcher Elsie Carter is the other all-conference player. She started as a freshman and is hitting .303 with an on-base percentage of .545.

She can run and is an outstanding defensive catcher who is “fearless,” according to Sargent.

Carter is one of six sophomores in the starting lineup.

The others are Jenna Colby, Rachel’s younger sister, who plays second base; first baseman Alana Welch; and the starting outfield of Clara Christiansen in left and twins Brooklyn and Taylor Newenham in center and right, respectively.

Junior Bri Flaherty starts at shortstop after playing left field last season.

Taya Worcester, the other senior, can play second base.

Sargent has two freshmen he has been training to be slap hitters at the designated player slot and one is his granddaughter, Rhiannon Sargent. The other is Callie Chase.

Tracey is hitting .472 and is one of the offensive catalysts along with the Colby sisters, Carter, Christiansen, Flaherty and Brooklyn Newenham.

Sargent said the team has an exceptional defensive outfield.

“They have made some great catches. They’re all fast and they all have good arms,” he said.

The future is bright for Sumner.

In addition to having just two seniors on this year’s team, they are supposed to move into a new school next fall for grades six through 12, and Sargent said that will help establish a feeder program, since the school serves students from several towns and the kids attend a variety of middle schools.

“We will be able to have a middle school team. It will do a lot for our program,” said Sargent, who is assisted by junior varsity coach and varsity assistant Ashley McBride.