Friday, July 12, 2024

Gerry savors Miss Maine Softball honor following stellar high school career

By Matt Pascarella

Over the course of her four years as a Windham High School athlete, graduate Brooke Gerry accomplished a lot. She helped lead her varsity softball team to their first state championship in 2023, she’s a two-time Gatorade Player of the Year, and has achieved 500 strikeouts, among many other accolades. On Tuesday, June 18 at Saint Joseph’s College, Gerry was named 2024 Miss Maine Softball, the top honor for a prep softball player in the state. She will attend the University of Rhode Island to major in Kinesiology and plans to become an athletic trainer or a sports medicine physician.

Windham graduate Brooke Gerry winds up to pitch on Friday,
May 24 against Cheverus at Windham High School in the 
final regular season softball game. Before the Class A and
Class B All-Star senior game at Saint Joseph's College,
Gerry was honored as this year's recipient of the Miss
Maine Softball award. PHOTO BY MATT PASCARELLA  
“I feel so grateful and honored to be named Miss Maine Softball,” said Gerry. “I've worked extremely hard to get where I am and I'm appreciative that the committee awarded me for my hard work and dedication to my craft.”

The Miss Maine Softball honor is chosen each year by the Maine High School Softball Coaches Association and Edge Academy, a softball facility in Portland. It is awarded to the best senior softball player for this award. When statistics were compared from her regular senior season, Gerry’s numbers were consistent. She can compete both offensively and defensively.

Over the course of her entire senior season, including the playoffs, Gerry allowed only 23 hits. She had 149 strikeouts. At the plate, she batted .533 with 32 hits and 22 RBIs.

When Gerry looks back over the last four years, she realizes how much she’s had to grow and how much she’s learned through overcoming adversity. The challenges she faced made her stronger. She kept moving past obstacles in order to achieve her goals and she played within herself and with class. Gerry says that she is very proud of what she’s accomplished.

At the age of 4, Gerry began playing softball and by age 6 was pitching. Softball has always been a big part of her life and the relationships she’s made and the dedication to her teams have kept her going. She was able to play alongside her sister, for her mother, and with her best friend Ella Wilcox. Gerry was also coached by Fred Wilcox who believed in her and taught her so many life lessons; all this made Gerry love the game more.

“Beyond playing in the strongest division in the state – Southern Maine Activities Association, Class A, Brooke is easily one of the hardest working players I have ever coached,” said Windham varsity softball coach Darcey Gardiner. “Any chance to get extra repetitions she takes, any chance to pitch to an extra batter in practice, she doesn’t hesitate. Brooke truly goes into every practice wanting to get better and that work shows in a game no matter what she is doing.”

Another thing that keeps Gerry going is the younger players that aspire to be just like her. She’s driven to be a good role model and to give back to the game that has given her so much throughout her career. When she’s down, she looks up and sees all of the younger players cheering her on and it instantly makes her push through. She’s given lessons and helped out with clinics and a summer camp for younger athletes.

“Through these I have been able to make unforgettable relationships with all of them,” said Gerry. “I try to make lasting relationships with these athletes and explain to them how I was just like them when I was younger; hoping it will inspire them to work hard and continue with the game.”

She attributes her successes to her hard work and dedication along with the support from her friends and family. There are a lot of people in her corner. She also wants to thank the people who wanted her to fail, because that lit a fire inside her and drove her to up her game.

“It's time to prove myself as a player and show that I'm ready for the next level,” said Gerry. “College softball is a different platform and I have to work that much harder to earn time in the circle.”

Gerry will play college softball for the University of Rhode Island starting this fall.

She plans to give back by giving lessons and eventually coaching softball in the coming years.

“Brooke is deserving of Miss Maine Softball because this award reminds me of dedication and the ability to strive for greatness and that’s what I think Brooke did throughout her entire softball career,” said teammate and Windham senior Stella Jarvais. “She has left a name for herself in the state of Maine for her career. She was able to go above and beyond just the game of softball by also positively impacting younger communities by all that she has achieved.” <

Windham I girls’ soccer upsets Freeport in substantial victory

By Matt Pascarella

Windham’s girls’ summer soccer team, known as Windham I, and made up of returning varsity players, played Freeport in a mid-season game at Windham High School on Monday, July 8. Windham was an incredibly cohesive unit and dominated the field to shut out Freeport, 6-0.

Windham junior Myla Vercoe looks to pass on Monday, 
July 8 during a summer soccer game against Freeport at
“I think that the team’s communication and how well we connected our passing tonight helped us a lot,” said Windham junior Marley Jarvais, who scored three of Windham’s six goals. “Every game this summer we’ve managed to do a very good job at those two things, and I think that’s what is helping us out with scoring a lot. The bond we all have with each other off the field as a team helps us so much when we step onto the field.”

The goal of the summer soccer season is to come together and play as a group, it helps identify leaders among the team and allows athletes to play a variety of positions before preseason starts. The team is able to bond and really get to know one another. It’s a laid-back atmosphere and while winning is nice, the goal is for athletes to improve themselves.

Despite the heat, Windham kept up their intensity for two halves. 55 seconds into the first half, Jarvais scored. A short time later, she launched a ball that found the back of the net.

Windham moved the ball well, communicated and had rock solid defense, which limited Freeport’s chances significantly. The Lady Eagles commanded the field with multiple shots on goal and led 2-0 at the half.

“Our chemistry is definitely getting a lot better, especially as a team,” said Windham junior Myla Vercoe, who scored in the second half. “We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, which really helps on the field with who can do what and having trust in our team with who can finish and make those goals. I’ve benefited [from playing summer soccer] a lot from becoming more self-confident ... through obviously practice and getting a lot closer with the team it’s made me go out of my comfort zone and try new things and get new skills. I’m really excited for this upcoming season because we work so well together.”

According to Jarvais, playing summer soccer helps her get extra touches on the ball and try new stuff before fall begins. It also gives her the opportunity to see how her opponents may play before the regular season starts.

In the second half, Windham kept the pressure on Freeport. They had multiple shots on goal early on and remained a strong team. Jarvais and Vercoe both scored; freshman Emily Wardwell followed, and sophomore Isabella Vassoler knocked one in.

“We’re off to a great start,” said Windham varsity girls’ soccer coach Deb Lebel. “I feel like kid’s dedication ... they’re trying things in the summer that they’re afraid to do in the regular season. Here we’re like ‘make all the mistakes you want,’ and it’s really taken their game to another level. Tonight, we saw kids all over the place ... and that was fun to see. Our bench is going to be pretty strong this year. We’re looking forward to the fall. Our switching fields went really well tonight; we’re learning to not take those outside shots right at the goalie, we’re putting them more on the six to give our teammates the opportunity to score rather than kicking it right to the goalie. A lot of Windham players have played together for a while, so they are communicating really well.” <

Friday, July 5, 2024

Windham graduate Marion to play soccer for Saint Joseph’s College

By Matt Pascarella

Windham graduate Nick Marion started playing soccer at age five; it was his grandmother who helped him choose this sport. He first tried T-ball and didn’t like it, so he began playing soccer. He was instantly in love with the game and likes playing as much as possible. Marion scored 33 goals this year, which is the second-best season-goal record in Class A history.  In the fall, he will attend Saint Joseph’s College where he will major in political science, while also playing soccer. Marion would like to go to law school after college.

Windham High graduate Nick Marion, center,
is joined by his mother Lisa O'Reilly and
stepfather Kevin O'Reilly after signing a
letter of intent to attend Saint Joseph's
College where he will play soccer. 
“Not everyone gets this opportunity,” said Marion. “I feel honored and blessed to be able to keep playing. I’m very thankful to my family and friends who helped me get here.”

In addition to this achievement, the United Soccer Coaches chose Marion as 2023 Fall Boys High School All-America Team – Windham High School’s first All-American player. Three students were picked from Maine to receive this honor and Marion was one of them; he thanks his family and teammates for being able to accomplish this.

This year, Marion was Offensive Player of the Year for the Southern Maine Activities Association, Portland Press Player of the Year and Class A Player of the Year, just to name a few of his accolades.

“He’s going to bring a lot to Saint Joseph’s College,” said Windham graduate and teammate Owen Dakin who will be attending University of Maine Farmington in the fall. “He’ll be passionate with the team, bring a lot of team chemistry and bring the team together. Just all around-great athlete; he’s great in school, I bet he’ll be helping his classmates with work. He’s always that nice person, you can go to him with anything. He just wanted the [Windham] team to be the best they could, and he pretty much did whatever he could to make them better. It’s really great to see.”

Marion chose Saint Joseph’s College because he loved the school, he liked the location, and he liked the soccer team. It had everything he was looking for.

Throughout his athletic career, Windham Athletics taught him a lot that he’ll be able to bring with him when he plays collegiately; one thing is perseverance. Although during his time on Windham’s varsity boys’ soccer team they never won a state championship, they learned something every year which they could carry forward to the next season to make that season more successful. Not giving up made them stronger players.

“So well deserved for you; everything that I think you want in a student athlete, Nick exemplifies,” said Windham varsity boys’ soccer coach Jeff Neal. “Tireless worker, fierce competitor, but his humility is one of his greatest traits – and something that is totally admirable. He is a young man that doesn’t like to be on the sidelines; loves the opportunity to be useful and helpful in any way that he could. When you take him off the pitch, he is so quick to deflect the praise on his teammates and he did it all season long, he did that with the press ... which is a hard thing for a young man to do; you represented yourself well you came across as a class act, which is no surprise to me. The other thing I asked of Nick was could he come and do stuff with the younger players in the community and he always did. That role model for younger players is huge.”

If there is one piece of advice Marion would like to pass down to underclassmen, or anyone looking to accomplish what he has, it’s to believe in yourself – everyone can work hard if they want to, and good things will come from that.

Marion would like to thank Coach Neal, Coach Dubay, Coach Hodge, Coach Graves, Saint Joseph’s College mens’ soccer Coach Pike, and his family and friends. They have all been instrumental in his success. <

Windham 10/11 All-Stars rally in final inning to avoid shutout

By Matt Pascarella

The Windham Little League 10/11 All-Stars baseball team played Falmouth in Scarborough on Friday, June 28 and after a rough first inning gave Falmouth a big lead. Windham came back in the last inning to put a couple runs on the scoreboard. Unfortunately, Windham suffered its second loss and was eliminated from the District 6 tournament, with Falmouth winning, 18-2.

Windham 10/11 All-Star fifth grader CJ Bisson throws to
the infield after fielding the ball during a Little League
District 6 tournament game against Falmouth on
Friday, June 28 in Scarborough.
“I think on that last inning the team had like a pump-up boost and everyone was on,” said Windham fourth grader Nathaniel Potter. “We just did great all in all and it was a great experience to be in an inning that we were doing good. It was really fun to play on a team where it’s mostly Majors players and you got me and another kid and we’re learning from the Majors kids and being able to start alongside them was a great experience. Little League’s not just all about winning, it’s about improving yourself and becoming a better baseball player.”

A rough first inning gave Falmouth the opportunity to score several runs, but Windham kept their heads up and made improvements every inning after that.

In the second inning, Windham fourth grader Dominic Rathbone singled, but was left on base when the inning ended.

In the third inning Windham gave a solid final push.

“I could tell they really wanted to put something together in the last inning,” said Windham 10/11 All-Stars baseball coach John Cressey. “It was great to see the effort and the mental aspect of it come back around again. They cheered each other on, and it was a proud moment to be able to say this was the team that we put together, and we battled together as a team. They started communicating better in the field in that last inning. They watched the pitches and made sure they weren’t swinging at bad pitches, and it developed into a couple runs and they were excited. They were really happy to get rid of the goose egg and put a couple runs across the board. They started realizing they needed to get to the ball a little bit quicker and keep the kids on the bases and then they started building off that momentum. I’m really proud of the progress these kids made.”

Windham fourth grader Byron Dansereau reached first base after a dropped third strike. Potter walked, then stole second base. Fifth grader Wesson LeDuc walked, Dansereau scored and now Potter is on third base. Fifth grader CJ Bisson walked; LeDuc artfully stole second base. Potter stole home.

“It was very exciting to score because my whole team was congratulating me,” said Dansereau. “My team was talking more, and we did some good plays and we played smart.”

Dansereau had fun this season and will play again next year.

“On the mound, it was fun; it was exciting,” said LeDuc who closed out the game. “It was a little stressful because I had a feeling it was probably going to be the last inning. I tried my hardest to throw strikes. It’s an energetic team and we try to build each other up. For the few that got on base we did pretty good, we were smart, we were fast and then fielding we had a couple errors, but the rest were really good plays; we had some good hits. My takeaway from this season is to be a good teammate, and just practice and get better.” <

WLL’s 9/10 All-Star softball drops hard-fought game to Gorham

By Matt Pascarella

A total of 12 teams entered the annual District 6 softball tournament for 9/10-year-olds and Windham’s All-Stars made it all the way to the district’s final four before their season ended on Monday, July 1 in Gorham. Looking to advance further in the tournament, Windham worked hard at it, but Gorham prevailed, 12-2.

Windham fifth grader Avary Caiazzo bats during a Little
League District 6 All-Star softball tournament game
against Gorham on Monday, July 1.
Windham’s successful season included an 8-6 win over Cumberland North Yarmouth, a close 4-3 loss to Falmouth, and a big 12-2 win over Scarborough.

“I try to get them to think about little battles within the big game. It was a good ... crowd,” said Windham 9/10 All-Star coach Nick Caiazzo. “You embrace the big crowd and let them know a lot of those people are here to watch you guys play. Now you’re down to the final four – they’re all here to watch us and we’re good softball players. Improvement, in just the concept of the game of softball in all of them coming from Minors player-pitch to what we call ‘real softball’, all of them got exposed to so much.”

In the third inning, after a couple walks, a groundout brought Windham fifth grader Quinn Couture home with her team’s first run of the game.

In the fourth inning, Windham fifth grader Brooke Legere stole home after fifth grader Avary Caiazzo walked.

Legere also pitched for Windham and had eight strikeouts.

“I’m proud of every girl and I cherish and will remember every moment I had with them,” said Avary Caiazzo. “I loved that we stayed at it and never gave up; I think we could have had a better ... attitude, but overall, we did amazing and grateful for the times we got to play. Basically, everyone did great in their spots.”

According to Windham fifth grader Lily Nickel, she thought they did great as a team, and they worked hard to get to this point. She said she’s really proud of her team and they had great practices and had fun while they did it. <

Friday, June 28, 2024

WLL 11/12 All-Stars baseball narrowly falls to Cape Elizabeth

By Matt Pascarella

It was a defensive pitching battle for Windham Little League’s All-Star 11/12 baseball team at the Westbrook Little League Complex on Saturday, June 22 in the first game of the All-Star season against Cape Elizabeth, where Cape narrowly edged Windham, 1-0, after a home run put them on the scoreboard.

Windham Little League 11/12 All-Star seventh grader Joey
Somma makes a throw to first base after fielding a ball
in a game against Cape Elizabeth at the Westbrook Little
League Complex on Saturday, June 22.
“It was a pitcher’s duel,” said Windham All-Star 11/12 coach Adam Kalakowsky. “We needed to get our bats going and we couldn’t; their pitcher did a great job. Our pitchers did a wonderful job, we’re going to try to rebound ... and play hard. Players were in position, they were doing the things we asked; a few mental errors, but with a tight game we kept it close, we made the plays in the field. Just that one homerun, that’s all it was. If we can just keep going, I think we’ll be successful. We have to score some runs, that was clearly our weakness today.”

Windham sixth grader Eli Souther began on the mound where he struck out five batters. Windham fifth grader Bronson Bassett took over in the third inning and struck out six batters.

Windham kept Cape Elizabeth scoreless in the first inning. Cape Elizabeth’s defense was just as tough as Windham’s.

In the second inning, a homerun put Cape Elizabeth in the lead. Windham’s strong defense wouldn’t allow them any further runs, even when it got tough.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, a walk and a single by Cape Elizabeth put two runners in scoring positions. Bassett was on the mound and struck out the next three batters to shut Cape Elizabeth down and leave their runners on base.

“Obviously, there’s a lot of pressure, but I just cleared my mind,” said Bassett. “I let go of everything and it was just me and the catcher, and I was just pitching my way. Even though we got the “L,” it’s not a blowout, it’s 1-0. The one thing we’ve got to do better is getting the ball on the bat. We got a whole [other] game. Great job at fielding ... but I do think we need to work on hitting – overall I think we did good.”

Windham gave a solid effort in the sixth inning but couldn’t get around the diamond.

“We did really good on pitching,” said Windham seventh grader Joey Somma. “I feel like we could get better at our attitudes while pitching, like that homerun was just 1-0, nobody needs to hang their head or do anything to not be positive – we have another chance. Our plays in the infield, our pitching and how we battled at the plate went well.” <

Casserly brother-sister athletes savor state championship weekend

By Matt Pascarella

Windham residents and Saint Dominic’s senior Tommy Casserly and North Yarmouth Academy (NYA) sophomore Cami Casserly each had a stellar weekend on Saturday, June 15. The siblings played respectively in Class D state baseball and softball championships at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham where both teams were victorious.

North Yarmouth Academy
sophomore and Windham
resident Cami Casserly, left,
and Saint Dominic's senior
Tommy Casserly gather after
the Class D South Regionals
on Tuesday, June 11 at Saint
Joseph's College. Both Cami's
softball team and Tommy's
baseball team would each win
their respective state
Tommy Casserly won his third straight baseball state championship with Saint Dominic’s 9-1 victory in the title game over Millinocket’s Stearns High School. On the same day Cami Casserly helped NYA win its second straight championship with a 2-1 win over Penobscot Valley. Tommy Casserly doubled in the third inning and drove in two runs in the championship baseball game while Cami Casserly singled in the sixth inning and brought in the tiebreaking run in the softball championship game.

“This was my last season in high school sports, and I wanted it to be memorable,” said Tommy Casserly. “Not only did we win the third state championship, but I also managed to have the best few games of my life leading up to that game. I kept playing to the best of my ability and I’m proud of how I did. I’m glad that my high school career ended on a such a high.”

Both Tommy and Cami Casserly began playing sports when they were in elementary school in the Windham Little League.

Tommy Casserly says having fun was the most important part for him and he is glad to have had the opportunity to bat and play in the field with friends, and that’s why he loves the game. Cami Casserly watched her two older brothers who were her role models and they got her interested in playing softball. She says that some of her best friendships have come from softball.

“It was a great feeling,” said Cami Casserly about winning the state championship. “I am really proud of my team, a lot of us are hockey players, not softball players, so to show that NYA softball can win two state championships is a great feeling to bring to our school.”

Saint Dominic’s baseball team ended the season 18-2.

“The thing we don’t have that most teams we face do is a weakness,” said Tommy Casserly. “Everyone on our team can hit the ball and everyone can field, it never matters who’s up to bat because we know that if we’re playing our game then we will get on base and we will score. I think we’re good at handling the pressure of a state championship and we knew that if we played our best, we’d win the game.”

NYA’s softball team finished with a record of 19-1.

“I think we have strong leaders in are senior captains,” said Cami Casserly. “They are great at keeping our team focused and on task. Honestly, with our great pitcher Lily, and our solid batting lineup all around, we are pretty good competitors in the high school league, especially in Class D.”

According to Tommy Casserly, knowing his sister won her second state championship was awesome, and when he learned how well she played in the title game, it made it much better for him. He’s proud of the way she played and knows she’s an amazing athlete who can only improve as time goes on.

Next year, Tommy Casserly will attend Nichols College in Massachusetts where he plans to major in communications and play club hockey.

Cami Casserly got the chance to watch her brother play in the state championship game.

“I got to watch most of his game before I had to warmup,” said Cami Casserly. “Some of my teammates and I snuck away during some downtime and got to watch the final out when he became a state champion for the third time. I was very proud of him and was happy because I knew how important this game was for him as a senior. I think it shows we both are good athletes and hard workers. And we have been lucky to be on talented teams with great coaches.”

Cami Casserly says she’s excited to be able to play two more years of high school softball.

“I am very grateful they each had such talented and positive teams to play on,” said Tommy and Cami’s mother, Melissa Casserly. “Both Tommy and Cami are great teammates, and great athletes. They love sports for the thrill of competing, but also the friendships they have made. Cami is competitive and able to remain calm when the game is on the line. Tommy is competitive and can remain calm under pressure. He is a good leader, encouraging his team to keep fighting.” <