After 29 years and seven state championships, and with his team carrying a 52-game winning streak, Richmond High School softball coach Rick Coughlin has resigned.

Coughlin, who will be 71 in May, said he decided not to return this season due to health-related reasons concerning him and his wife, Debbie.

“It was the hardest decision I’ve had to make, but I had to make it,” said Coughlin, who compiled a career record of 373-125.

Assistant coach Tony Martin is the interim coach until a permanent replacement is named, hopefully within the next few days, Richmond athletic director Jonathan Spear said.

Coughlin said he made the decision in January, not long after his wife suffered a heart attack. He said she is doing well now, and a recent check-up with his doctor went well. He let the decision sink in for a few weeks before announcing it to his team earlier this month.

“I was a little surprised, but it had been a rumor going around,” said junior pitcher Meranda Martin, who is Tony Martin’s daughter. “He feels like family to me. He lives in town and he’s always around the school and I always see him around. I’m going to miss him.”

“He had a good conversation with them,” Tony Martin said. “He gave them a little bit of a pep talk and talked with them about being a team and helping each other out.”

Coughlin led the Bobcats to the last three Class D state titles and also won state championships in 1995, 2004, 2005 and 2010. They’ve won six regional titles in a row and nine overall during his tenure.

Richmond defeated Stearns, 9-4, for the Gold Ball last year to finish 18-0 and become just the fourth softball program in state history to win three consecutive state titles. The Bobcats have not lost since the 2012 state championship game against Penobscot Valley.

Jonesport-Beals is believed to hold the longest softball winning streak in state history, winning 62 straight games while winning three titles in a row from 1992-94.

The Bobcats, who lost just one starter, first baseman Kelsie Obi, begin their quest for a fourth straight state title Tuesday when pitchers and catchers report for practice.

“I know what the girls are shooting for, but they’re still capable,” Coughlin said. “I’ve told them to keep your focus on what you can achieve and go from there.”

Spear said the school is in the process of finding a replacement, with the hopes of making a smooth transition.

“He’s been here for a long time and had a lot of success, so it’s going to be tough shoes to fill. But he’s left the program in good shape,” Spear said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for Rick and what he’s done as a coach and for the program.”

Meranda Martin said that while Coughlin’s imprint on the program will remain, the players are looking forward to more success.

“We’re a really close team, so I think we’ll do fine,” she said. “He told us, ‘Move on. You guys can win it for me.’ With what he’s taught us and with the talent we come with, we’re going to do very well this year.”

Tony Martin, who has applied for the job, has served as an assistant for Coughlin since the 2010 state championship season, when his daughter, Leandra, was a sophomore on the team. She is also an assistant coach.

He said having a veteran team should make it easier for the Bobcats to move on.

“We’re going to miss Rick this year, for sure. He’s a good guy who’s got to take care of his wife and his health,” he said. “We’re just going to try to get the girls to stay focused. With this bunch, they’ve had a lot of success, in soccer and basketball, too, and I think they take it from day to day and go game to game, and that’s basically what we have to focus on.”

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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