Friday, May 17, 2019

Windham’s softball slugger, Junior Chloe Wilcox breaks record

Chloe Wilcox (image by Melissa Foss)
By Matt Pascarella

Softball has always been a part of Chloe Wilcox’s life. She started playing when she was four and hasn’t stopped since. Wilcox recently broke Windham High’s record for most home runs hit during a high school softball career. The original record, 13 home runs, was set by Liv Mora (class of 2017). 

Wilcox has hit 16 home runs during her career; nine of which have been this season.

“She’s a hard worker,” stated her dad and coach, Fred Wilcox. “As a catcher, she understands pitchers. She’s educated on what pitches may be coming and she’s a numbers kid. As a lefty, pitchers will work the outside corner of the plate, She’s got really quick hands to work the inside and she’s a smart, smart player; very strong with great hand eye coordination.”

Chloe was surprised when she found out she had broken the career record.“It felt really good” she explained. "It wasn’t something I was expecting or aiming for but getting the phone call that I just broke the record was a surreal moment. I’ve been looking up to these girls [her teammates] my entire life, I never thought I’d be one of the girls.”

Wilcox got to this point through a lot of hard work, training in the winter and the fall and she adds she is in so much debt to the game and that it’s given her so many opportunities on and off the field. She’s made friends up and down the East Coast because of softball. For Wilcox, getting to meet people and coaches and get their perspective on the game is really eye opening.

Chloe stressed she could not be where she is without the support of her coaches and teammates.
Her varsity coach last year, Travis Demmons was Chloe’s little league coach. Demmons knew Chloe as a player and a person. When she would get down on herself, he’d say, ‘hey, you know who you are, you know what you can do’ and that really helped her.

Chloe describes her teammates as beyond amazing and says they truly are like a bunch of sisters. At the end of the day, they all love each other and are there for each other.

“My dad and I - we talk softball all the time,” she said. “We talk strategy and we talk how I need to go up to the plate against certain pitchers, which is great because I get in that mindset and when we get to that game, I know what to do.”

“Her work ethic is amazing; not just in sports, but academically,” stated Fred. “That’s where it starts with her. She’s highly motivated and as a parent, it’s awesome to watch happen, as a coach it’s impressive.”
“I love playing for people,” added Chloe. “I play for myself obviously, because I love the game, but I like the feeling I get when my teammate just relied on me and I know I can rely on them. There is the sisterhood and the friendship I get from this game and it is really amazing; I love it.”

Varsity baseball keeps pressure on against Deering

Ryan Sargent
By Matt Pascarella

The boys’ varsity baseball team played Deering Monday, May 13 at Windham.
The Eagles started strong right away. Bryce Afthim, #22, was on the mound and in the top of the first brought three batters to the plate and sent three batters away, with back-to-back strikeouts and a pop fly to second base.

Windham really stepped it up in the bottom of the first. After Bryce and Brady Afthim, #2, both walk, Ryan Sargent, #20, walked making the bases loaded. Bryce stole home on a wild pitch, 1 to 0. Brady stole third and Sargent stole second. Caleb McCartney, #26, walked and bases were loaded again. After a balk, a pitcher pretending to pitch when he had no intention of so, Brady took home. Sargent advanced to third and McCartney took second. Garrett Peeples, #21, grounded out to second and Sargent scored. McCartney took third. A line drive by Tyler Thornton, #12, brought in McCartney, 4 to 0 - Windham.

Bryce brought three batters up in the second and sent three away. Windham had a lot of chatter and cheering as they worked to add runs to the scoreboard and prevented Deering from doing the same.
Jump to the bottom of the fourth, where after William Brooks, #10, got a base hit and quickly stole second. Bryce popped out to right field and Brooks tagged up to advance to third. After a wild pitch, Brooks took home, making the score 5 to 0 -Windham.

Multiple innings featured three Deering batters coming to the plate and going right back to the dugout.

In the top of the seventh, Deering’s last chance to turn the game around, they were able to get one run before the Eagles ended the game.

Final 5 to 1, Windham

“They just kept the pressure on,” remarked coach Cody Dube. “Bryce had a quick tempo, which was nice, throwing a lot of strikes; just attacking. Nobody let up today. [Windham] kept the pressure on and [Deering] couldn’t do much with it.”

Westbrook no match for Windham tennis

By Matt Pascarella

The boys’ tennis team took on Westbrook on Monday, May 13 at Windham.

The match was broken into singles and doubles. Each individual match is best of three games and the
Gabriel McPhail
entire competition is best of five of all the matches played.

The boys were aggressive right out of the gate. They were playing with determination and were focused. They were playing smart, being watchful of the ball with quick footwork.

The singles matches featured Stephen Sepulveda, Vireak Tray and Ben Smith who took win after win after win against their opponents, with Sepulveda winning 6-0 and 6-0, Tray winning 6-3 and 6-0 and Smith winning 6-1 and 6-1.

For the doubles matches, the team of Andrew Wing and Gabriel McPhail crushed Westbrook 6-0 and 6-0. They remain undefeated with seven consecutive wins.

Hayden Bilodeau and Devon Harnden partnered up and also reigned victorious, with scores of 7-5, Windham; 5-7 Westbrook and 7-5 Windham.

Final: 5 to 0, Windham

“I think we are coming together as a team. It's been hard to get going with all the bad weather this spring,” remarked coach Garry Stone. “The guys are hitting their stride and playing their best tennis of the season. We're 5[wins] 2[losses] right now and hoping to keep it going for our last five matches and into the playoffs.”

Friday, May 10, 2019

Opening day for Windham Little League gives preview of exciting season

Joe Donnelly

By Matt Pascarella

Opening Day for Windham Little League was held at Ciccerone Field at Lowell Field in Windham on Saturday, May 4. Majors teams Ice Cream Dugout and CR Tandberg played first.

CR Tandberg was off to a great start with Philip Traina, #9, getting a double. After Ben Shaw, #4, was hit by the pitch, Josh Tum, #12, got a base hit and Traina scores. A triple by Lukas Hammond, #8, brought in Tum and Shaw. Hammond stole home and the inning ends 4-0.

The bottom of the first for Ice Cream Dugout had Caleb Hayman, #,2 getting a single. Preston Brown, #3, made it all the way around the bases after a passed ball. Brown brought in Hayman.

Camden Gardiner, #9, hit a double. After a pop fly, Gardiner tagged up and scored, 4-3, CR Tandberg.

Jump to the third inning, and Shaw of CR Tandberg and Tum got base hits. Joe Donnelly, #5, got a single too. Shaw stole home. Hammond singles and Tum scored. Ice cream Dugout got it going when Seamus McDougall, #10, hit a ground ball to the third baseman and reached first. Hayman and Gardiner both single. McDougall scored; 6-4, CR Tandberg. Tandberg had a small lead, but Ice Cream Dugout wasn’t done yet. In the top of the sixth, Traina singled, then Shaw walked. Tum doubled and Traina scored. Shaw stole home and it was 13-5, CR Tandberg.

Tum scored after a ground out.

When Ice Cream Dug Out took the plate, Gardiner got a base hit. Grant Coppi, #8, walked, Bradyn Woodward, #4, singled. Bases loaded. Conor Janvrin, #12, doubled to center and stole third; bringing in Gardner, Coppi and Woodward; 14-8, CR. Janvrin scored. Wyatt Washburn, #5, walked, stole second base, then scored. Ice Cream Dugout made an excellent attempt, but CR Tandberg held onto their lead.

Final: 14-10

“Focusing on the baseball is what helped the team win today,” remarked Coach Dave Donnelly. “Also, doing what we’ve done in practice; it’s all the little fundamentals that count.”

Coach Raquel Gerry has made a life out of softball

Raquel Gerry

By Matt Pascarella

Raquel Gerry knows softball and it has been a big part of her life. She is the assistant coach for the Windham High School varsity softball team and has been coaching softball for ten years, beginning when her oldest daughter was playing t-ball. Gerry has coached at all levels from t-ball to recreation to travel and now high school.

Gerry started playing at a very young age and has had many coaches that made a lasting impression on her playing days and her life. When she was playing softball early on, she knew she would eventually coach. “I wanted to coach girls and have an impact on their life and give back to the sport of softball, which gave me so much in my life,” she explained.

She became interested in softball and wanted to coach because of the competitiveness of the sport, wanting to be a positive influence. Gerry stated that to watch and see her girls come together on the field has been and continues to be very rewarding.

She coached travel softball with head varsity coach Fred Wilcox and former varsity coach Travis Demmons. She saw the great things the two of them were doing with the Windham High School softball program. In 2017, there was an opening at the middle school for a softball coach and she applied, knowing she wanted to be involved with the up and coming program and surround herself with great players and coaches. She coached that team for one year. In the spring of 2018, she became the Windham High School junior varsity softball coach. This year she has moved up to the varsity level.

What does Gerry want her players to walk away with after a season? She said the lessons learned from adversity and success on the field are great preparation for future experiences. “When you step between these lines, nothing else matters except being with your teammates and having fun playing the game of softball.” Gerry explained that you must always be a student of the game and never stop learning.

The culture and atmosphere of softball in Windham is changing and I am excited to be a part of that,” she added.

A Casco resident, Gerry is married with two daughters. She is a special education teacher at Dodge House School, a residential day treatment school in Bridgton, where she enjoys working with the children. Softball keeps her family busy. Both her daughters play summer travel softball. However, whenever there is the chance, Gerry and her family like to camp and ride ATVs.

Girls’ lacrosse maintains significant lead over Lake Region

Alanna Joyce

By Matt Pascarella

The girls’ varsity lacrosse team hit the field against Lake Region, on Monday, May 6 at Windham.

The Lady Eagles wasted no time as Riley Beem, #1, scored within the first minute of play. Windham was pressuring, with strong offense and defense. The girls were aggressive, taking advantage of any misstep on Lake Region’s part. The Lady Eagles were communicating well, and the score reflected that. Alanna Joyce, #4, put one in the net. 

Emma Yale, #24, put the ball in three times in the first half. Windham was moving the ball around nicely and were first to the ball. Lake Region had slowly started to make a comeback, but Windham still had a decent lead. Beem scored before the end of the half.

Half: 6-3, Windham’s intensity didn’t diminish in the second half as the Lady Eagles came onto the field ready to get that ‘W.’ While Lake Region was slowly gaining, Windham was making sure they held onto their lead. The Lady Eagles continued solid offense and defense. Multiple players scored in the second half including: Yale and Beem and Belle Skvorak, #10. Lake Region did manage to score a couple goals, but the patience, teamwork and skill of the Lady Eagles allowed them to gain a more than comfortable lead and secure the win. Top scorers: Emma Yale and Riley Beem.

Final: 13-5, Windham

“We have a philosophy, with the speed we have and the athletes we have, we can wear teams down,” explained coach Matt Perkins. “We just got to keep working and keep pressing. It was 6-3 at halftime...and we started cleaning up some of the things we were having issues with. I thought we did a good job of fixing those, I thought we did a good job pressuring...I think we did a great job.”

Girls U9 Windham Youth Soccer skyrocket to win

By Matt Pascarella

The Windham Youth Soccer U9 girls’ team played against the U9 Kennebunk girls at Gambo Field in Windham on Sunday, May 5.

As soon as the whistle blew, Windham was off to a great start and scored within the first few seconds. Then they scored again shortly after that. Windham had strong teamwork and excellent communication. They had powerful defense with the U9 Windham girls keeping the ball away from the Windham half of the field.

There were several nice blocks and stops by Windham’s keeper. Kennebunk did manage to get one through the posts, but Windham didn’t let Kennebunk score many goals during the game. Windham’s U9 girls showed great skill on the field. They were moving the ball around nicely and passing well to each other. Windham kicked it into high gear toward the end of the first half. The U9 Windham girls scored three goals; one after another after another, showing unlimited teamwork.

At the half: 5-1, Windham

Windham’s U9 girls didn’t slow down in the second half; their consistent offense and defense did not waiver. Windham’s keeper kept up the quick hands, blocking several shots and only allowing Kennebunk to score one time for the remainder of the game. Windham had great hustle throughout the entire game and the score reflected that. Windham put two more goals in before the final whistle and with less than two minutes left on the clock, the Windham U9 girls scored a final time.

Final score: 8-2, Windham

“We work a lot on discipline and holding their positions, so they’re aware where they need to be when the ball comes to them. Also, passing and holding positions is allowing us to do a good job,” commented coaches Ken Clark and Jason Bowie.

Friday, May 3, 2019

New little league AAA division helps build skill

By Matt Pascarella

The Minors division of Windham Little League is for ages 7 to 11 who didn’t make the majors division. Until recently, if a player did not make the majors, there was no division between minors and majors where a player could work on  skills and be ready for the majors division the following year. Until now.

This year, Windham Little League along with its Board of Directors, Vice President of the minors division, Mike Butterfield, and the league’s many devoted coaches are introducing a ‘triple A’ (AAA) division to the league. The AAA division could also be referred to as mid-majors, but it’s still the minors division and its goal is to get kids ready for that next step, which is moving up to the majors division.

Part of the reason for the addition of the AAA division is the Little League International organization changed the eligibility age which in turn makes the whole league younger.

“Last year we played baseball with kids ages 7 to 11 on the same team playing under the same rules. What we found out was the skillsets were totally different,” explained Butterfield. He spoke with his coaches as well as coaches from other towns. “We needed to come up with a way to enhance the skillsets of the older kids of that division.”

AA is a developmental league. It’s geared towards kids ages seven to nine who are coming from coach pitch or are in their first or second year of the minors division who aren’t ready for the competitiveness or have the skillset for the AAA division.

All the coaches in the AAA division are returning coaches from Minors baseball. The AAA division will feature five teams: Windham Powersports, Jet Ski Guy, MPM Sealcoating, Top to Bottom and new this year, the league will be adding a Raymond team, Sunset Variety. There will also be some interleague play with the town of Gray.

The AAA division is set up for ages 9 to 11 for kids who didn’t make it into the majors division. The AAA division will get kids ready for majors by teaching them skills such as base stealing, bunting and leading.

In order to understand the new league better and gain a better appreciation of the game, coach Chris McDonald and coach Dustin Bartz of Windham Power Sports took an umpire training, detailing rules and play procedure.

“From a coaching end of the game, it’s really important for us to understand all the rules,” explains McDonald. “For us to go through the umpire training puts us in a much better, clearer understanding of how we need to run our boys and what we need to teach our boys to be ready for majors. Prior to the AAA division it was almost like a light switch; it was black and white. When you were in minors, you were in minors and when you went to majors it was pretty much completely different. Having the AAA division gives us a gray area.”

“Knowledge always give you an advantage,” said Bartz. “Umpire training has made me a better coach, given me more confidence and affected the strategies we use in games.”

The AAA teams will gain the strength and skill needed to compete at the Majors level as well as a full understanding of how to play the game.

Boys’ lacrosse teams victorious over Sanford

Greg Simpson
By Matt Pascarella

Boys’ varsity and JV lacrosse teams hit the field against Sanford, at home, on Monday April 29.

The Eagles wasted no time after taking the field. In the first quarter they scored 13 goals alone. Windham was aggressive and pressured Sanford the entire first half. They had great communication and solid offense and defense. Windham was moving the ball around nicely, too; giving multiple players the opportunity to put one between the posts. The Eagles were scoring one after another after another after another.

Half: 20-0, Windham

The second half was like the first in that there was no lack of intensity and communication between the Eagles. They continued their strong offense and defense, keeping Sanford from getting any goals past the keeper. They really meshed as a team, and the scoreboard reflected that. Top scorers: Tyler Woolston #7, Matty Babb #13, Connor Cummings #17 and Seth Wall #12.

Final: 24-0, Windham

“We played Massabesic on Saturday [April 27]; we were able to control some parts of that game. We knew we had to tighten up some of our systems, both defensively and offensively. Our whole goal was our systems needed to click and we accomplished that,” remarked coach Peter Small.

Windham wasted no time with several players putting the ball in the net early in the game as Windham jumped to quick lead. The Eagles had strong communication as well, moving the ball around and putting the pressure on Sanford. Windham had good offense and defense. The Eagles didn’t let up, with multiple players scoring in the first half.

Half: 12-1, Windham

The second half found Windham not slowing down and continuing to put pressure on Sanford. Despite the Eagles substantial lead, they continued to keep the strength up and prevented Sanford from getting many goals past the Windham keeper. Several Windham players added to the scoreboard. Top scorers: Will Woolston #4, Greg Simpson #24 and Liam Heckman #6.

Final: 17-2, Windham

“We were moving around really well. We started to move off the ball – that I think was key. Our attackmen were seeing the cuts from the mid-field really, really well. Defense was great; won the midfield, which is huge in every game. I think that attributes to how we played today,” stated Coach Seth Fournier.

Varsity softball shuts down Westbrook

Erin Elder
By Matt Pascarella

In a day where many games were canceled due to rain and bad field conditions, the varsity softball team traveled to Westbrook on Saturday, April 25 to take on the Blue Blazes.

The Lady Eagles started strong and early, with Whitney Wilson, #7, hitting a home run in the first at bat. Chloe Wilcox, #22, kept up Windham’s momentum by hitting an inside the park home run to right field. After Erin Elder, #24, walked, later in the inning she was able to score, leading the Lady Eagles three to zero.

In the top of the second, Windham could not be stopped. Kayla Gorman, #15, slammed a double into left field. Wilson got a base hit, and Gorman scored. Wilcox hit another home run, this one outside the park. Wilcox and Wilson scored, six to zero - Windham. Wilcox got another homer in the top of the third.

In the bottom of the second inning, Whitney Wilson brought three batters to the plate and sent three batters away on a pop fly and two strikeouts.

Fast forward to the top of the fourth inning, Windham was up ten to zero. Brooke Phillips, #10, hit a single, Amanda Foss, #5, got a base hit on a ground ball and Lily Beaton, #12, got a single. Phillips and Foss scored. Beaton scored after Wilcox grounded out to first base. Erin Elder singled and brought in W. Wilson and Ellen Files, #8. Ellie Wilson, #2 got a base hit. Sarah Elder, #9, hits an inside the park home run E. Elder and E. Wilson scored to bring Windham’s total to an impressive 18 to zero.

The bottom of the fourth had W. Wilson bringing three batters up and sending three batters away via a ground out and back-to-back strikeouts.

W. Wilson repeated this in the bottom of the fifth and final inning to close the game and throw a no-hitter, with the final score remaining 18-0.

“They had to get in the mindset that we had to come out and play; both teams were playing in the same weather. Whitney threw an awesome game today, really good control of the ball and everybody contributed offensively, defensively; just great all-around game,” stated Coach, Fred Wilcox.