WINSLOW — It’s happened a few times since the start of the spring where Beth LaFountain has been out around town, and someone has recognized her.

“Every now and then, someone will pick me out in a store or something,” the Winslow baseball coach said.

It makes sense. Widely believed to be the first female high school baseball coach in Maine history, LaFountain is beginning to gain a profile in the Winslow community, and even beyond.

“I’ve had a few people take me aside just to say that it’s really inspiring and to keep it up and they’re rooting for me,” she said. “I appreciate all of that. It’s really great. But honestly, it’s not something unless someone takes me aside that I really think about.”

LaFountain prefers to keep her thoughts on what got her the job: Making a winner out of the Black Raiders on the diamond. After a rough start, Winslow has begun to take steps forward. The Black Raiders are 1-4, but counted among those games are a one-run loss to Nokomis and a 7-1 loss to a Cony team that to date has shown itself to be one of the best in Class B North. Winslow won its first game Friday, rallying from two runs down in the bottom of the seventh to beat Maine Central Institute 9-8.

LaFountain quickly points out just how far the Black Raiders still have to go. But she just as quickly mentions that she likes the pace at which they’re going.


“We have been building from the ground up, and we are continually gaining momentum,” she said. “I think the team is really starting to go into a game with a different mindset than before. If you look at our scores, you can see the improvement.”

LaFountain has taken to her team with a focus on fundamentals, defense and baserunning. The Black Raiders are low on experience, with three starters who didn’t play high school baseball before this season, so she’s made it a point to build the foundation first, extending all the way to basics like how to take a lead off a base.

Winslow baseball coach Beth LaFountain talks with players during practice Tuesday in Winslow. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

“Just a lot of focus, that’s been the biggest thing,” senior catcher Evan Bourget said. “Compared to last year, it’s a lot more focused on certain subjects of the game. We’ll focus on defense one day, we’ll focus on hitting another day.”

The players aren’t the only ones needing to learn. LaFountain’s background is in softball, and she’s found some different elements to baseball to which she’s needed to become accustomed.

“For me, my biggest Achilles heel is hit and runs,” she said. “It doesn’t exist in softball. You bunt and steal in softball, you don’t do hit-and-runs.”

They do in baseball, and they do at Winslow. Entering Wednesday, the Black Raiders’ aggressiveness on the basepaths had translated into 19 steals in five games.


“Honestly, the baserunning to me is a lot of fun,” LaFountain said. “Everything is so spread out, and the timing is so different. I knew there would be quite a few finer details of the game that I would have to learn as I went on.”

Those differences from softball, however, have been fun to learn, rather than challenging.

“I am such a defense person anyway. I absolutely love having to figure out various combinations in the field based off of who’s pitching at the time, and manage pitch counts and plan for games ahead,” she said. “That’s something that doesn’t even exist in softball, and I absolutely love it.”

Winslow baseball coach Beth LaFountain hits a ball during practice Tuesday in Winslow. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

As both she and her team have learned and developed, she’s made sure to bring fun to the practices along the way. Winslow practices often feature a variety of stations to keep the drills fresh and develop specific skills. Go to a Black Raiders practice, and you’ll be hearing music. Ride along with them to a road game, and you’ll hear music in the bus as well.

“We’re here to be loose, (but) we’re here to work, though,” Bourget said. “I’ve never had any other sport where we listen to music during practice, but it’s almost like a focus piece for us. It hones us in and keeps us on the task at hand.”

It’s paid off in games, as both LaFountain and her players said they’ve heard of spectators commenting how loose and upbeat they are. They’ve also heard people around the town who first wondered how a female baseball coach would work, and now comment on how special it is to see a barrier being broken.

“You definitely hear people outside of our team who talk about in school and around town, people asking ‘How’s it going? How is she?'” senior designated hitter Tyler Brockway said. “I think a lot of people at first were probably very suspicious, not sure how it was going to go. I think we’ve shown so far, and I think we’ll continue to show, she’s no different than any other coach.”

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