WINSLOW — Beth LaFountain has had plenty of conversations recently about her being the new varsity baseball coach at Winslow High School. And they often go the same way.

“If I tell people I’m a baseball coach, they’ll correct me. ‘You mean softball,'” she said. “And I say ‘No, baseball.’ And they look confused and they say ‘Is there girls baseball?’

“It’s more believable to people that I coach some sort of underground girls baseball league that they’ve never heard of than the fact that I just coach the boys baseball team.”

On one hand, their surprise is to be expected. LaFountain said she believes herself to be Maine’s first-ever female varsity baseball coach, and however often it’s happened throughout history, it’s certainly been rare; a 2021 San Francisco Chronicle article cited Justine Siegal of nonprofit organization Baseball For All saying that there was only one woman coaching varsity baseball in the country.

Now there’s another. And when asked how it feels to be making some history, LaFountain said she’s surprised that she is.

“Honestly, there’s a little bit of disbelief too,” she said. “With there (being) so much overlap between softball and baseball, it is kind of hard to believe I’d be the first woman to do anything at this point. … I have had overwhelming support from area coaches, officials, I worked American Legion last year, I’ve had a few of them reach out. It’s just been really, really great.”


She certainly has the support of her Winslow players, who got a chance to see her coaching ability last season when she was an assistant under head coach Isaiah Fleming.

“She gets the best out of us,” senior first baseman Joe Pfingst said. “We got a pretty good sense (last year). She was pretty good at taking care of practices and running the table with us. … I feel better coming into my senior year, knowing that she’s our head coach.”

“She’s awesome. She’s really good with the players, she’s really understanding. She knows her stuff,” senior catcher Evan Bourget said. “She’s really, really big on defense. I think that’s going to be big in what we do.”

Winslow head baseball coach Beth LaFountain goes over some throwing details with Ethan Loubier, center, and other players during team practice Monday in Winslow. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

And the chance to be part of a team making history?

“It’s just more of a Winslow kind of thing,” Bourget said. “We do a lot of things different, and there’s a lot of history here. It just adds on to what we have.”

LaFountain has honed her experience coaching and playing on the softball field. She pitched as a senior for the 2004 Winslow team that won a state championship, coached the Black Raiders in softball in 2011, and has been an assistant coach for Thomas College the past four seasons.


She began coaching the baseball side last year as a varsity assistant, and then assisted Rusty Mercier with the Central Maine American Legion team. LaFountain said she “fell in love” with baseball and the Winslow team, and that the season spent getting to know the team prepared her for taking the job.

“I think last year helped almost with my own mindset, honestly,” she said. “I don’t think they saw me any differently. I think it was the adults, not the kids, who really kind of noticed. It’s been an ongoing joke that I’d be out hitting fungoes and a few people who didn’t know I was involved would say ‘Man, that guy’s got really long hair.'”

Now that she’s here, LaFountain said she wants to be a long-term solution for a job that has been a revolving door in recent seasons. Her goal is to rebuild a program that has a proud history but saw numbers drop and ran through a rough stretch, going 6-42 between 2017 and 2019.

“This program needs a lot of attention,” said LaFountain, who is Winslow’s fourth different coach in the last four seasons. “I’m working very closely with the youth league, the junior high program and the varsity to try to restore it to where it used to be. This is a school built on tradition, and we used to have a very rich tradition of winning here.”

LaFountain, whose specialty is pitching and catching, said she’s working on getting alumni to come back and work with the team, and she’s going to focus on building pitching at the youth levels so that players aren’t trying to catch up on the mound at the varsity level. By building consistency with the program, as well as improving the condition of Winslow’s home field, LaFountain said her goal is for baseball to become the go-to sport for athletes in the spring that it hasn’t been in recent years.

“There’s so much stuff that needs to be done at all the levels,” said LaFountain, who said numbers are low in junior high but good in elementary school grades. “I think we just need to change our mentality, and have more of a big picture mentality for this whole program. … If we can get to the point where baseball can trump going home and playing on your cell phone, that’s really our biggest (goal).”


Winslow head baseball coach Beth LaFountain teaches a throwing technique during team practice Monday in Winslow. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Her players feel she’s the right person to accomplish those goals.

“You can see that she has an energy about her,” senior designated hitter Tyler Brockway said. “We were excited when we found out that she would be coaching us. So far, she’s really broken it down to the basics, and started to really rebuild the program. The baseball program has not been the same since years and years ago, so it’s definitely good to rebuild that program, starting this year.”

LaFountain is ready for the challenge.

“I can come into the season with confidence,” she said. “I just can’t wait for next week to get started with everyone, and swing some bats.”

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