This is certainly a notable year for Vinalhaven athletics. This year, the school will, for the first time in about 20 years, field a varsity softball team for the spring season after last year’s successful run as a club squad.

“I just think that we just wanted to compete,” said Coach Jess McGreevy. She said that playing as a club team on an island limited the amount of games the girls could play and, according to her, last year they only played around five. So, as a varsity team they are guaranteed a full 12-game schedule.

Overall coach McGreevy has been coaching softball five years at Jay High School and, on the island, at the peewee and club level. This year she looks forward to the new stage for the Vikings.

“We will undoubtedly make many gains over the course of the season,” McGreevy said. “We have room for many firsts throughout the season; every hit, run and out will be a new experience for our team.”

The Vikings include senior Ginger Swears (outfield); juniors Bianca Barroso (left field), and Alana Watt (second base); sophomores, Izza Drury (center field), Blake Reidy (first base), Alex Slivinsky (pitcher), Pleasant Garner (outfield), Karen Krager (outfield) and Emma Hamilton (right field); and eighth-graders Eliza Davidson (short stop), Abby Jones (third base), Ashley Hamilton (catcher), Ryann Warren (pitcher), Ellie Reidy (outfield), Rebecca Small (infield), and Bethany Candage (outfield).

McGreevy hopes for a rewarding season.

“I am confident that we will develop into a team that is competitive in the East-West Conference,” she said. “I am excited to be a part of this team – the girls have been working incredibly hard this season – and I am sure their hard work will pay off.”

However, she said there will be challenges. Those include top Western Class D contenders Buckfield and Richmond.

The team’s inexperience also plays a factor, but McGreevy sees a silver lining. “We are an incredibly young team, and I believe that is both a strength and a weakness. We have a very talented group of younger players that will come together and will be really impressive.”

McGreevy said that she expects the girls to step up their game at the varsity level. “I think that they will really thrive in [varsity],” she said. “I think that we will see a variety of [competition] this year and it will give the kids a real nice change to ease into the program. I think it will be a good experience for them altogether.

She said that bringing softball to Vinalhaven was always one of her goals when she was planning to move to the island in 2007. “It’s just always been something that’s been on my agenda,” she said. “I really love softball and I think that it’s a great program to have, an alternative program to other sports.”

McGreevy started by helping with the island Little League team and then the high school club team. Even then, the idea of creating a varsity team was a goal. As time went on, she said, the girls simply became more dedicated and interested and showed the school there was enough dedication for a varsity program.

According to McGreevy, cost was not much of a barrier because the team will cut down on their highest expense, transportation, by mirroring the boys baseball schedule, thus traveling with that squad, such as the two Viking basketball teams do in the winter.

Overall, McGreevy said the move will be a big change for the young student-athletes, but she thinks they have the drive to succeed.

“They are much more committed this year to the program than they were in years past,” she said. “They have been training harder, they are going to become better softball players because of it [and] because they have been working harder it seems like everything they do is more important this year.”

The Vikings start their regular season on Saturday, April 24 at 10:30 a.m. in Buckfield.

Village NetMedia Sports Reporter Frederick Freudenberger can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at fritz@villagesoup.com.