Bucksport’s Mikayla Tripp pitches during the fourth inning of a high school softball game against Mount Desert Island on April 18 at Bucksport High School. Tripp struck out 18 batters and allowed just one hit and an one unearned run as the Golden Bucks opened the regular season with an 8-1 win. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY MIKE MANDELL

Bucksport softball team starts season on high note with win over MDI

BUCKSPORT — No matter who comes and goes, the Bucksport softball team expects to win. Even with a young squad this season, that expectation has gone unchanged.

Last year marked the end for Bucksport’s decorated 2018 class, which appeared in four consecutive Northern Maine championship games and brought home two Class C titles. Each of the seven seniors in that class was a major contributor to the Golden Bucks’ sustained success as one of the state’s top softball programs.

In 2019, the Golden Bucks are going from experienced to youthful with four freshmen starting and a total of nine lowerclassmen on their 13-player roster. Yet even though it doesn’t match up with past Bucksport units in terms of experience, this year’s team showed in its season opener that those championship aspirations haven’t changed.

Bucksport opened the season Thursday with an 8-1 over Mount Desert Island at Bucksport High School. Seniors Mikayla Tripp (18 strikeouts in the circle and a home run at the plate) and Brittney Dewitt (two hits, three RBIs and a strong defensive showing) led the way in an all-around solid victory for the Golden Bucks, who also got contributions from their younger players along the way.

“We lost a lot from last year, but I think we still have a good mix this year,” Tripp said. “As seniors, [Brittney and I] are really motivated to come out and make one last run, and we have some young players who are really talented and ready to come out here and win.”

After Tripp struck out two batters in the top of the first, Bucksport took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single from Dewitt. Tripp then struck out the side in the top of the second, and the Golden Bucks doubled their lead when Victoria Watkins’ slap single scored Zoe Hosford from third base.

MDI (0-1) threatened in the top of the third inning when it put runners on second and third with two outs, but Tripp completed another three-strikeout inning to get herself out of the jam. After she struck out the first two batters to begin the fourth, Dewitt made a diving catch on the edge of the infield grass to complete a 1-2-3 inning.

“I’ve made a couple of those,” Dewitt said. “It was a tough play, but I knew I had enough time to get over there. My outfield was right there to back me up.”

The Trojans finally got on the scoreboard in the top of the fifth when Hannah Chamberlain scored on a passed ball, but Bucksport (1-0) followed with a rally that produced six runs in two innings. That surge began when Tripp restored the Golden Bucks’ two-run advantage with a solo home run.

“I knew it [was a home run] as soon I saw it hit,” Bucksport head coach Mike Carrier said of Tripp’s fifth-inning blast over the center-field fence. “We made a few adjustments because she’s been popping up a bit, and that seemed to work quite well.”

MDI senior pitcher Lindsey McEachern struck out eight batters and walked six in the loss. At the plate, she gave the Trojans their lone hit when she singled to left in the third inning.

The win over an MDI team that is returning all but one player from last year’s Northern Maine playoff squad gave Bucksport its biggest victory over a Class B opponent since it beat the Trojans 10-3 in 2016. More importantly, the Golden Bucks have proved they can still compete with top opponents despite a young roster that has undergone such massive turnover from last season.

“That’s one of the best teams we’ll play all season,” Carrier said. “They’re a very good Class B team, and I told the kids they ought to be proud of this. We played really well.”

Bucksport is scheduled to host Dexter (0-0) at 4:30 p.m. Monday, April 22. The location of that game was moved from Dexter to Bucksport on Thursday after fields at Dexter Regional High School were deemed unlikely to be ready for play by Monday afternoon. The teams will met in Dexter on May 23.

MDI will host Hermon at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 23. Hermon opened the season Thursday with an 11-5 home win over Central.

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at [email protected]

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