ELLSWORTH, Maine — Ellsworth High School first-year softball coach Dottie Cameron admitted that she was nervous before Tuesday’s Class B North preliminary round game against Nokomis of Newport.
“I was very nervous. But it wasn’t a bad nervous. I had butterflies. It was an exciting nervous because I know the girls were capable of competing with anyone. It was just a new experience for me,” said Cameron, who was the 2010 North Atlantic Conference Player of the Year when she played for Husson University in Bangor.
The native of South Plainfield, New Jersey, graduated from Husson in 2012 and was an assistant coach there for one year before joining Rick Roberts’ staff at Ellsworth High School.
Roberts, a renowned pitching instructor, stepped down last year after 18 seasons with the program, the last 10 as the head coach. He resigned so he could work with the Ellsworth pitchers during the offseason as well as continuing to work with pitchers from other communities.
Maine Principals’ Association rules prohibited coaches from working with pitchers from their own teams during the offseason (approximately Aug. 1-March 15).
Cameron guided the Eagles to a 10-6 regular season, which earned them the eighth seed for the playoffs.
They upended No. 9 Nokomis 14-12 on Tuesday to earn a quarterfinal matchup with top seed Gardiner (15-1) on Thursday.
“It has been absolutely incredible. I feel very lucky to have a group of kids with so much drive to be successful,” said Cameron. “It’s awesome. It has been so much fun.”
“I had her coach me on the JVs last year and to have her come up to varsity with me is kind of cool,” said sophomore pitcher Mackenzie Chipman. “We love her. She’s intense but that’s what we asked for.”
Chipman said having a young coach is advantageous “because she can relate to things with us. It’s awesome.”
“I really like her a lot,” said Ellsworth junior third baseman Mariah Young. “She brings a lot of positivity to the game and to the players.”
A win-win situation for Hammer
Mike Hammer found himself in an awkward position at Tuesday’s Ellsworth-Nokomis playoff game.
He lives in Ellsworth and his two daughters play for the Eagles. Senior Callie Hammer is the Eagles’ catcher and sophomore Katie Hammer is the starting right fielder.
But Hammer is the first-year superintendent of schools for RSU 19 in Newport.
“I couldn’t lose either way,” said Hammer. “My two daughters play for Ellsworth and I’ve gotten to know some of these (Nokomis) girls. It’s a lot of fun.”
Hammer said he and Nokomis athletic administrator Mark Babin had been keeping an eye on the Heal Points standings the last few regular-season games to see if the Nokomis-Ellsworth matchup would occur.
“We were counting points,” grinned Hammer, who got his wish.