Greg King eventually came around to the idea. That doesn’t mean he’s always thrilled with it.

“I still don’t like getting up at 3:15 every morning,” King said.

King, the baseball coach at Thomas, holds his practices from 5:30 to 7:30 — that’s a.m., not early evening.

“Years ago, when we got the field house (at Thomas), we had revolving time slots,” King said. “We could be practicing 9:30 to 11:30 one day, and 3:30 to 5:30 the next.”

As the school added more teams, King said, time at the field house got more crowded. So the baseball team might be practicing, but the basketball team might be using one of the courts. So the baseball team figured, why not practice early in the morning, and we can have the whole field house to ourselves?

“When we first started, I said, ‘If I (have to) practice at 5:30 in the morning, I’m probably done coaching,'” King recalled. “Then I got to thinking about it. I said, ‘What the heck? Let’s try it.’ It just seemed there were more benefits than not doing it.”

The Terriers have 42 players listed on their roster, so the extra space is especially useful. King might have some players work on the weights, and others doing sprint work — things that wouldn’t be possible if practice were in the afternoon.

“We don’t want everybody just doing busy stuff, but to a certain extent it is,” King said. “We just do all kinds of different drills.”

Believe it or not, King has also heard that the early practice times makes the players better students. Instead of practicing until 7:30 at night and then being too tired to study afterward, the players know they have their day free every day after 7:30 in the morning.

“I actually got phone calls from some parents saying it was the best thing that could have happened,” King said. “Their grade point average actually increased. They didn’t have to disrupt their studying to go to practice.”

King says the practice setup is also good for the players who might need a year before they can be ready to make a contribution at the college level.

“If they went to another program, they’d probably be cut,” King said. “We give them a chance to develop.”

• • •

Courtney Fowler has stepped in as the No. 1 pitcher for University of Maine at Farmington’s softball team. Fowler made her season debut on Saturday, beating UMaine-Presque Isle, 6-1.

Fowler went 5-4 last season as a freshman, and was expecting to be the No. 2 pitcher again behind Emily Soule. But Soule opted not to play softball this season.

“It was kind of a surprise,” Fowler said of being the new ace. “But it’s a big responsibility, and I’m ready for it. I’m excited.”

Fowler threw a little over a third of UMF’s innings last spring, and that number could go up under new coach Amy Jones.

“I let her know beginning of the year: Keep doing what she was doing, and she would have the ace spot,” Jones said. “She did great (Saturday). She came out and fired.”

Saturday’s game against UMPI matched almost anything Fowler did last season. She threw hard, and in five innings, she allowed one hit and struck out six, matching her career high.

“I think it’s just confidence,” Jones said. “Yes, her pitches have gotten better. She’s able to place them a little bit more. But I think the biggest thing for her was just confidence, and believing that she could do it.”

• • •

A couple local players have some pretty gaudy stat lines for the University of Southern Maine men’s lacrosse team. They belong to Seth Wing and Keegan Smith, both of whom grew up in West Gardiner and graduated from Gardiner Area High School.

Smith has two goals and nine assists in just two games. Wing has also played two games, and has scored 11 goals.

Both players set school records in Saturday’s game against New England College. USM’s previous single-game records were six goals (held by eight different players) and six assists (by three different players). In that same game, Wing scored seven goals, and Smith dished out seven assists. They helped each other out, as Smith assisted on four of Wing’s goals.

Wing’s record-setting goal came with 10:41 left in the game, off an assist from Smith. Wing attempted one more shot on the day, but it went wide. Smith set his record when he set up Messalonskee grad Nate DelGiudice with 8:45 left.

USM finished 2-13 last season, including a 14-6 loss to New England College. Wing was second on the team with 17 goals, while Smith dished out a team-high 13 assists. They’ve got a good chance to obliterate those numbers this season. The Huskies’ next game is Wednesday at home against UMaine-Farmington.

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo


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