Family-like atmosphere propels Owls to fast start

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PRESQUE ISLE, Me (WAGM) - The University of Maine Presque Isle softball team is off to a great start so far this season. Right now the team is in the middle of a road trip that has the Owls playing 12 games in eight days. The Owls have been successful because they see themselves as one giant family.

"Our team chemistry is really, really good. That's huge for softball to have energy and have great team chemistry. We have a lot of freshman that came in ready to play immediately and that was fantastic to have to our already experienced roster," said head coach Sara Shaw.

"We've been getting along well, we have dinner together most nights. This team really meshes well together and we've been playing well together," added sophomore Sara Packard.

Shaw is in her second year as the Owls head coach and has a team that is working hard to make the USCAA playoffs. The Owls have responded well to her distinct style.

"I really like how she keeps us focused and she's very intense and keeps us intense. She always tells us that we need to get better every day, we can't be complacent," said senior Amanda Allen.

"She really pushes us. She demands a lot out of us, which is good. It's hard at times, but it's definitely worth the challenge," Packard explained.

The team has been performing well in all phases of the game, mostly because the Owls are focusing on the little things and making sure every player can contribute at multiple positions.

"We have some different pitchers and our infield and outfield can be moved around. To have that versatility is a strength for us this year," Shaw said.

"We've been working on fundamentals and that kind of stuff and we've seen improvement in games. Close plays we wouldn't have gotten before we've really gotten this year," added senior Katie Patenaude.

UMPI has battled through some injuries early on this year, and the Owls think their deep roster will continue to benefit them as the season goes along.

"Everybody is contributing in their own way. We have some great defensive players, some great offensive players, so I don't think there's a couple that you can point out. This year it's a total team effort and I think that's a difference from last year, we have a lot of people contributing every day," Shaw said.