ORONO - Despite not having the best regular season, Maine softball really turned it up a notch come playoff time.
The Black Bears entered the America East Tournament as the sixth and final seed, but still ended up making the final four and eliminating three teams, more than any other.
One of the biggest keys to their run was the seniors stepping it up when it meant the most. Head coach Jordan Fitzpatrick says the fact the clock was ticking gave them an extra boost.
"That's when it really started hitting the seniors that this is it," Fitzpatrick says. "I think it showed up in a lot of their play. For them it was just, 'leave it out on the field,' and that's what we kept trying to tell them. This could be it, so why not go out with a bang? I think they embraced that."
It's always good to end the season on a high note like the Black Bears did, especially for the players that will return in 2024. Coach Fitzpatrick hopes their run at the conference crown not only shows the team what they're capable of, but serves as a building block for future success as well.
"They don't want to go backwards," Fitzpatrick says. "If we can start where we ended this year, we're going to have a fantastic year next year. I think, for them, they saw all the hard work pay off for them and they're very much motivated to come back at a higher level instead of from scratch."