Shannon Whiting didn’t even take up the game of softball until she was a freshman at Husson College.
But nowadays, she’s very passionate about the game.
The Meredith, N.H. native, who has been teaching physical education and wellness at John Bapst High School in Bangor, was recently named that school’s new varsity softball coach.
Whiting steps in for Bill Baker, who stepped down after taking a new job “which made so his hours weren’t flexible enough to meet the hours of a softball coach,” said Bapst athletic administrator Rick Sinclair.
Baker led the Crusaders into the Eastern Maine Class B semifinals last spring, where they fell to eventual regional champ Medomak of Waldoboro.
Whiting spent 12 years on Husson’s coaching staff, including five as a head coach starting in 1987, and was Orono’s head coach from 1997-2000.
The position was an easy take for Whiting since she’s very familiar with most of the kids on the team.
“I’ve probably had all of them in class at some point in their career at John Bapst,” said Whiting, who added that she’s excited to get involved with the students outside a classroom setting, another reason she accepted the job.
Bapst suffered some hefty graduation losses but returns one of Eastern Maine’s top young pitchers in sophomore Laura Jordan.
“I haven’t met with the kids yet but I’m looking forward to that,” Whiting said.
Even though pitchers and catchers can report on March 23 with full preseason practices starting a week later, softball weather doesn’t exactly seem too imminent.
“It’s hard to get real excited right at this point after nine inches [of snow last] Monday, but spring’s coming,” Whiting said.
She’s also hoping to pass along her fire and passion for the game.
“I think once you’re in athletics you always have to have that little spark, you have to enjoy the game,” Whiting said. “I hope to teach that passion. I think you learn a lot from athletics, how to deal with things in life.”
Whiting, who played third base and left field at Husson, also played basketball at the Bangor school. She graduated in 1986 with a degree in recreational management.
Chasse awarded scholarship
John Bapst senior Morgan Chasse, a standout soccer and basketball player at the school, was recently awarded an academic president scholarship from the University of Maine at Fort Kent, one of the institutions that Chasse is considering attending next fall.
Chasse, who helped lead the Bapst girls basketball team to the Eastern Maine Class B final this winter, said UMFK is her top choice, but she’s also considering the University of Maine and the University of New England in Biddeford. She has been accepted to all three schools.
“I think Fort Kent’s the top choice right now. I want to go into nursing,” said Chasse, who added that friend and former Bapst soccer teammate Whitney Sinclair is currently enrolled at UMFK.
Chasse, who plans on studying nursing, wants to play soccer and possibly basketball, depending on how her studies go.
She added that she’s planning on taking this spring off — Chasse ran track for the Crusaders last spring — to work herself into soccer shape.
“My dad’s trying to get me a [personal] trainer for lifting and stuff,” said Chasse.
She’s been in contact with the soccer coaches at UMFK and UMaine, while nursing studies run in Chasse’s family.
“My grandmother’s done it in several different fields, both of my grandmothers, actually,” she said. “I’ve always had an interest in helping people.
Chasse scored 92 career goals in soccer and 963 career points in basketball at John Bapst and Bangor Christian, where she played her freshman and sophomore campaigns.
She also helped Bapst win the state Class C track and field championship last spring, finishing fifth in the 400 meters and was a member of the Crusaders’ winning 4×100 relay team.
Maine track athletes shine
Jamie Ruginski stood out among his Maine track brethren at the New England Interscholastic Championships in Boston Friday.
Ruginski, a senior at Bonny Eagle in Buxton, won the boys long jump at the Reggie Lewis Center with a mark of 22 feet, 7¾ inches.
Ruginski also qualified for the finals in the 55-meter hurdles with the sixth-best time in the trials at 7.83 seconds, but would up finishing eighth in the finals in 7.91
York star Chelsey Tewell was Maine’s lone double All-New England honoree, as the Wildcats senior placed sixth in the hurdles and fourth in the 55-meter dash.
Tewell was timed in 8.48 seconds in the hurdles and 7.34 in the dash, events she won at the Class B state championship.
Elsewhere in the running events, Waterville’s Shelby Tuttle finished 12th in the 55 hurdle trials while Sumner of East Sullivan’s Tony Cultrera was 19th in the dash trials, with Hermon’s Justin Cullens 24th and Ben Sinclair of Brewer 25th.
The top eight finishers in the dash and hurdle trials advanced to the finals with the top six finishers in each race earning All-New England honors.
Mount Desert Island senior Heather Spurling was Maine’s top finisher in the girls 2-mile, placing 23rd while Cape Elizabeth’s Matt Rand earned ninth in the same event.
Brunswick senior Kristen Slotnick earned All-New England status in the 300, running to third in 40.71 while MDI’s Danielle Hutchins was 10th in 41.83.
Gray-New Gloucester’s Ben Mikovich just missed placing in the boys 300, finishing seventh while Sinclair took 10th. Maria Curit of Biddeford ran to eighth in the girls 600 while Brittney Chapman of Bangor was 21st.
Brewer’s Kaitlin Noyes posted a 3:16.07 to place 19th in the 1,000 while G-NG’s 4×200 relay team of Cody Chase, Will Danieli, Ethan Ray and Mikovich earned sixth at 1:33.61.
Hermon’s quartet of Nick Byers, Ryan Feeney, Jesse Graffam and Cullens finished 19th in the same race.
Brewer’s 4×800 relay team of Brooke Madden, Lily Sund, Sara Chavarie and Noyes finished 17th while Caitie Smith, Kymry Brooks, Spurling and Kailyn Russell of MDI were 20th.
Greely of Cumberland Center’s boys 4×8 squad of James LePage, Andy Fitch, Logan Price and Mark McCauley ran to fourth in an impressive 8:06.87.
Deering of Portland’s 2003 meet record of 7:53.50 still stands, although the winning team from Danbury, Conn., ran 7:59.43.
In the field events, Cheverus of Portland’s Caroline Summa cleared 5-5 to earn fourth in the high jump while Mount Ararat of Topsham’s Colby Gail finished in a three-way tie for sixth at 5-3. Megan Hogan of Bangor rose over 5-1 to finish 22nd.
Hampden Academy’s Jadrien Cousens and Sean Seekins of Bangor were among three boys high jumpers who cleared 6-3 to place ninth, while Hillary Cederna of Greely was fifth in the long jump at 16-10.75 with Tuttle finishing 13th.
Danielle Fossa of Waterville was ninth in the shot put with a toss of 38-4.25.