Oceanside High School softball coach Rusty Worcester has been a corrections officer for 34 years.
He has worked his way up to assistant director of the Bolduc Correctional Facility in Warren.
Worcester is in his 17th season as the softball coach at Georges Valley and now Oceanside, the result of a 2012 merger between Georges Valley of Thomaston and Rockland High School.
He said there are similarities between being a corrections officer and a coach.
“You are teaching life lessons in both. I have become a coach at work. I coach the offenders and help them help themselves,” said Worcester. “We are helping them get back into society (after serving their sentences). We are preparing them to be successful and not be a repeat offender.”
His hope is that they can land a job, take classes or a get involved in a work-release program.
Worcester’s teams have won three state championships, two Class C crowns at Georges Valley (2007 and 2008) and one in Class B with Oceanside (2013).
What he tells his players is to be relentless and determined. Sports can be a valuable springboard in life.
“If you have played a sport at a high level and you’re going on a job interview, you shouldn’t take a back seat to anyone. Go get the job!” said Worcester.
He hopes his 10-2 Mariners can go out and get a win on Wednesday when they face nearby rival Medomak Valley of Waldoboro, which is 12-1 including a season-opening 9-5 win over Oceanside.
“They’re a good team. They can hit the ball. And they won’t graduate anybody after this year,” said Worcester, a 53-year-old native of Columbia Falls.
His Mariners also have an impressive infusion of youth led by sophomore pitcher Chloe Jones, daughter of 11-time Maine State Golf Association Player of the Year Ricky Jones.
Jones, who was the ace of the staff even as a freshman a year ago, has limited opponents to three runs or less 11 times and two runs or less nine times.
“She has been dominant in the circle all year long. She is averaging double-digit strikeouts and her ERA (earned run average) as of a few games ago was 0.76,” said Worcester. “She has a nice fastball, changeup, curve and drop.”
Another key sophomore contributor is catcher Abby Veilleux.
“She’s very talented,” said Worcester. “She’s got a great arm and a quick release and she’s our leadoff hitter. She’s very fast and has stolen a lot of bases.”
Worcester’s teams have always been very aggressive on the basepaths.
Senior first baseman Alexis Mazurek has hit five home runs and is hitting .600.
“She has been in the zone all year,” said Worcester.
Another offensive catalyst has been junior shortstop Casey Pine, whose two-run homer and RBI single helped the Mariners beat Morse of Bath 4-2 on Monday.
Three sophomores, Rachel Joyce, Kalli Grover and Hannah Moholland, start at second and in left and right field, respectively.
Another sophomore, Morgan Heal, shares third base with senior Lauren Hatch. The center fielder is rangy Haylie Witham, a senior who had run track and played JV softball before coming over to varsity softball full time this year.
“She’s really fast and covers a lot of ground,” said Worcester.
Worcester believes the Mariners can contend for a state title.
“We can compete with anybody. A gold ball is on our mind every time we take the field,” said Worcester.