Skowhegan Excessive Faculty’s Sierra Carey, Corridor-Dale’s Ashlynn Donahue and Searsport’s Ana Lang had been the profitable pitchers of their groups’ state championship video games final season in Class A, C and D, respectively.
Along with being state titlists, they’ve one other factor in frequent.
All of them have the identical pitching guru: former policeman Rick Roberts.
Each Sunday starting in October and ending in June, Roberts works with softball pitchers of all ages from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. They arrive from everywhere in the state to Milligan’s Touchdown LLC in Previous City. He used to carry his periods in Ellsworth.
The 90-minute periods have between six to 9 pitchers in every. Roberts, Husson College’s pitching coach, additionally works with pitchers on a person foundation on the Sluggers softball and baseball facility in Brewer through the week and on Saturdays.
“I really like him. He’s my favourite individual ever,” stated Lang, who’s a junior at Searsport Excessive. “I’ve been working with him since I used to be 12.
“He undoubtedly made me into the participant I’m immediately,” added Lang.
One other one in all his proteges is Hampden Academy senior pitcher Danielle Masterson, who has had a terrific 12 months for the Broncos to earn a spot on the All-Kennebec Valley Athletic Convention first workforce together with Skowhegan’s Carey.
She’s going to pitch for him at Husson subsequent season.
“He’s tremendous supportive and devoted to creating all of the pitchers the most effective they are often,” stated Masterson. “He actually is aware of every woman, and he individualizes everybody’s lesson to allow them to get the most effective out of it.
“He’s robust and pushes you, however he is aware of when to step again and allow you to determine issues out, which is necessary as a pitcher,” added Masterson. “I can’t wait to maintain working with him at Husson.”
Different Roberts college students who’ve had spectacular seasons embrace Nokomis’ Mia Coots, who pitched the Warriors to the highest seed in Class B North, Bangor’s Lane Barron, Bucksport’s Ella Hosford, Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln’s Jennie Whitten, Lawrence of Farfield’s Sage Reed, Ellsworth’s Tyler Hellum and Mount Desert Island’s Addy Boyce.
Roberts was born in Denver and spent a number of his childhood in California the place he grew to become a fairly good slow-pitch pitcher.
He stated he was 19 or 20 years outdated when his slow-pitch workforce went to a different ballpark to play a sport.
He was arching lengthy excessive pitches to his catcher when the umpire requested him what he was doing.
“I informed him I used to be warming up. He informed me it is a fast-pitch league,” stated Roberts, who gave fast-pitch a shot.
“I simply threw and ducked,” he chuckled.
He had publicity to the fast-pitch windmill supply from a coach in center faculty, and he grew to become intrigued by the mechanics of fast-pitch pitching.
So he discovered extra about it and have become a fast-pitch pitcher.
Roberts was a policeman in Los Angeles, however after 12 years on the power, he retired and moved to Maine with daughter Krystal and spouse Lori, who has household roots in Bucksport.
He finally served within the Ellsworth police division and, early in his 22-year profession, he noticed a number of youngsters hanging out in parking tons “with nothing to do.”
“So I acquired them concerned in softball. They wanted to have one thing to do,” he stated.
He grew to become an assistant coach at Ellsworth Excessive and established his pitching clinics.
Roberts finally grew to become the top coach at Ellsworth however grew to become “pissed off” by a Maine Principals Affiliation rule that forbids coaches from working with their very own gamers through the fall and winter months.
“So I’d wind up working with youngsters from different faculties, after which they’d flip round and beat us,” stated Roberts, who stepped down as the top coach and targeting simply being a pitching coach.
He stated he retains issues “fairly easy.”
“I inform them to be comfortable however by no means be happy,” stated the 63-year-old Roberts. “Each single child brings one thing completely different. You by no means evaluate them to one another.
“We don’t speak about profitable and shedding. It’s about being optimistic and all the time striving to do the most effective you may,” he stated. “And we by no means use the phrase ‘can’t.’”
He additionally stated it’s about growth as an individual, not only a softball pitcher.
“What I’ve discovered is that extra necessary than wins and losses is seeing them come out of their shells and turn out to be assured off the sector in addition to on the sector,” Roberts stated. “It isn’t nearly pitching.”
Former Previous City Excessive star McKenna Smith, the North Atlantic Convention Pitcher of the Yr for Husson this previous spring and a long-time Roberts protege, stated Roberts has been like a “second dad” to her.
“He teaches you to be assured in your self and belief your skills and that correlates into your teachers and as an individual in on a regular basis life,” Smith stated.
Roberts is a stickler for correct mechanics.
“Although (pitching a softball) is a really pure motion, you may nonetheless tear your shoulder up,” he stated.
He’s additionally very cautious to not put his younger pitchers within the circle too quickly.
“You don’t need to lose them. You don’t need them to seek out it too onerous and need to cease,” he defined. “You need to set them as much as succeed.”
Nonetheless, he famous that failure is a part of the sport and you’ve got to have the ability to take care of failure and be taught from it.
“We fail greater than we succeed,” he stated.
He’s a agency believer in altering speeds and teaches all of his pitchers a changeup, together with all the opposite pitches: fastballs, drops, riseballs, curves, screwballs, completely different spins.
He finds which of them work for every pitcher and teaches them find out how to find the ball to maintain the hitters off-balance.
He’s a softball junkie who has a thirst for information that he can cross on to his college students.
“I nonetheless have an enormous ardour for it. I’m on-line on a regular basis seeing what’s being taught. You possibly can be taught rather a lot from different coaches,” he stated.
A number of of his pitchers have gone on to school careers like Smith, who first pitched for NCAA Division II Saint Anselm Faculty (N.H.) earlier than transferring to Husson.
“He has had a big impact on me. I wouldn’t be the individual or the participant I’m immediately with out him,” Smith stated. “He’ll do something for anyone. He’s so devoted. ”