It’s likely a coincidence that Julie Boucher’s best year as Oak Hill softball coach this season is also her last.

Boucher, who began as softball coach at the Wales school in 1996, has been coaching at a high level for some time now. This year’s team had the talent, desire and chemistry that few if any of the others she coached possessed.

The Raiders finished at 12-4 during the regular season and reached the Western Maine Class B championship game before falling to eventual state champion Fryeburg.

For her efforts, Boucher has been named the Kennebec Journal Softball Coach of the year. Erskine Academy’s Mike Soule, who led the Eagles to a Class A playoff appearance, was also considered.

“This was probably the most well-rounded team I ever had,” Boucher said. “Most of all there was no drama or other stuff that gets in the way. The attitudes were very positive. It was like a family.”

Boucher grew up playing softball and continued through high school and for a year in college. That doesn’t mean she was totally prepared to coach when she took on the job at Oak Hill.

“I learned that coaching and playing the game are two different things,” Boucher said. “When you go to teach it, it’s a completely different story.”

Boucher continued to learn the game through reading, clinics and talking to other coaches. She also found that most of the top pitchers in the state have their own coaches. When Oak Hill senior Lauren Hall’s pitching coach moved away, Boucher filled in the void.

“She was a good pitching coach when I needed her,” Hall said. “She has so much knowledge, she just wants to share it with all of us.”

Boucher takes a low-key approach in the dugout perhaps because her players are so well prepared.

“I think the whole idea of teaching the game and coaching the game is just concentrating on the basics,” she said.

Boucher, who has also coached varsity and JV field hockey at Oak Hill in the past, hasn’t ruled out coaching again. But for now she’s concentrating on her daughters, ages 10 and 6, and their budding athletic careers.

“They’re getting busy right now,” she said. “It was a painful decision but the right decision.”

She’ll continue to teach biology and anatomy at Oak Hill and watch the games when she can.

“I remember every single player I ever had,” she said. “That’s what makes it so hard to leave.”

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]

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