ELLSWORTH — With the 2021 season nearing the midway point, the Ellsworth baseball and softball teams are getting hot at the right time.
Ellsworth cruised to wins on the baseball and softball diamonds last week with victories Wednesday against John Bapst and Saturday against Hermon. The wins were the products of strong all-around efforts from the Eagles, who kept opposing offenses at bay and produced runs consistently in some of their strongest showings this year.
On Wednesday, the Ellsworth baseball team bounced back from a tough loss to Bucksport with an 8-0 home victory over John Bapst. David Baugh allowed just four hits in a complete-game shutout for the Eagles, who got two hits and three RBIs apiece from Craig Burnett and Reece Jagels to highlight an 11-hit offensive effort.
Returning to action Saturday, Ellsworth improved to 5-2 with a 9-1 victory over visiting Hermon. Hunter Curtis pitched a no-hitter with five strikeouts, one walk and no earned runs allowed for the Eagles, who got three-hit games from Baugh and Nate Smith.
Curtis, who had not pitched at the varsity level prior to this season, is now 2-0 with 15 strikeouts and just two hits allowed in 12 innings pitched. The junior credited his success to former Ellsworth ace Conner Wagstaff, who has been helping as a volunteer assistant this year, as well as pitching coach Mike Clough.
“I would just like to give a shoutout to [Conner and Mike] for keeping us pitchers in tip-top shape and for getting me back into the groove of pitching after years off,” Curtis said. “We work super hard in practice, and our team also showed up defensively that game, backing me up throughout.”
Ellsworth’s softball team entered Wednesday’s contest against John Bapst fresh off a 9-5 win over powerhouse Bucksport two days earlier. The Eagles continued their momentum as they knocked 15 hits against the Crusaders in an 11-4 victory.
Alex Bivins claimed her first career win for Ellsworth as she allowed just two earned runs in five innings before Tyler Hellum came on in relief to close out the win. Casey Carter, Kayla Duhaime and Morgan Duhaime all had three-hit games for the Eagles, who reached the 10-hit mark in their third straight contest.
“Ever since we’ve been able to take the masks off, the bats have come alive,” said Ellsworth head coach Jake Hackett. “It takes you about 0.4 seconds to react, and if you’ve got the mask on, that’s something that’s not normally in your peripheral vision. Not having to deal with has really helped, I think.”
Ellsworth (6-1) claimed its sixth straight win Saturday as it produced 15 hits again in an 11-3 victory over Hermon. Carter, Annabelle Hackett and Alicia Havey had three hits apiece for the Eagles, who got a complete-game, eight-strikeout effort from Hellum in the circle.
Hellum, who is now 4-1 with a 1.32 ERA, 56 strikeouts and just five walks allowed, has been a beacon of consistency for Ellsworth throughout the season. The junior entered the year as the Eagles’ only returning pitcher from 2019 after the graduation of staff ace Mackenzie Chipman and has continued to build on the promise she showed as a freshman two years ago.
“After we graduated Mackenzie, Tyler was the only pitcher I for sure knew I had,” Hackett said. “We had freshmen coming up, but we couldn’t be sure about them yet because we hadn’t had that chance to evaluate them. I was kind of banking on her because I felt she could have gotten us through a lot of situations, and she definitely has.”
Hackett had high hopes for his team coming into the season, but the moment of realization, he said, came in last Monday’s win over Bucksport. In that game, the Golden Bucks scored three runs in the first inning to put Ellsworth in an early hole before the Eagles’ offense delivered the second time through the lineup to power a comeback win.
“I think that game was the game where you could look how we came back and say, ‘OK, we’ve got something special here,’” Hackett said. “We really showed resilience with how we found that spark with that bats, and [our offense] just seems to be getting hotter.”
Both Ellsworth teams are set to host Mount Desert Island at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, May 13, in contests that were postponed from Tuesday. The Eagles will then play on the road against Brewer (softball at 1 p.m.; baseball at 2) on Saturday, May 15, before facing Washington Academy next week (softball at 4:30 Monday, May 17; baseball at that time Tuesday, May 18) in East Machias.