BY MATT DIFILIPPO
Monday really was the first sign of spring in high school sports — it just doesn’t seem like it if you look outside today.
As Mainers who hope to have their shovels put away for good this winter prepared for an incoming storm, high school baseball and softball teams enjoyed the first day coaches could work with pitchers and catchers.
How long those practices went depended on things like geography and how much work those pitchers and catchers did in the offseason. At Forest Hills, baseball coach Mike LeBlanc had practice for only an hour.
LeBlanc said none of his pitchers threw regularly in the offseason — it’d be quite a drive from Jackman to find a pitching coach — and since the Tigers probably won’t be able to get on their field until April vacation, he doesn’t want to push things too early.
“I’m actually only going three days this week, and then I’m going hard with our pitchers and catchers next week,” LeBlanc said.
Over at Winslow, the Black Raiders and new softball coach Steve Bodge had a two-hour practice. Bodge was hired earlier this month.
“Today, I tried to learn kids’ names, first of all,” Bodge joked.
“We went through a good pitching routine,” he added. “Three out of the four pitchers I have, have been pitching on Sundays. The fourth one has been pitching, but just not with her coach at this time. So we’re in pretty good shape, as far as pitching.”
Bodge previously coached some strong teams at Maine Central Institute.
“This is only 20 minutes from Augusta, where I work, and I’ve really been looking for a varsity job,” said Bodge, who coached at MCI from 2006-09. “It’s a good fit for me, really. I was very pleased to get this job.”
Winslow returns starting pitcher Megan Richards and starting catcher Jenn Poulin. But after getting back in the flow on Monday, they were prepared to have today off because of the storm.
“Snow on the 19th of March is unbelievable,” Bodge said. “I walked across my field — we probably would have been on it by the end of the week, maybe early next week at the latest. Now we’ve got to deal with this, but I guess everybody’s got to deal with the same thing.”
Nokomis has high hopes for this softball season. The Warriors have two solid pitchers in Becky Orcutt and Sara Packard, and reached the Eastern B final last spring.
“We wanted to win, but we never thought we would actually make it to the Eastern Maines,” Orcutt said.
Orcutt said she throws six different pitches, and worked with all six during the first practice, which went close to 90 minutes.
“Some days, some work, and others, they don’t,” Orcutt said. “You just use what works.”
With the Warriors being so excited about this season, coach J.D. McLellan has to make sure his pitchers don’t get too excited.
“They always try to overthrow the first day or two,” he said. “They want to impress people. You have to pull them back a little bit.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243