When she was Lynn Hearty, she was one of the University of Maine’s best softball players ever. She was inducted into the UMaine Sports Hall of Fame in 1993.
She was also known as a fiery competitor who despised losing.
She married former University of Maine baseball star and captain Mike Coutts and she is returning to her alma mater as the new softball coach replacing Deb Smith, who resigned after the season.
“I’m here to win,” emphasized the 46-year-old Coutts at a Wednesday press conference in the Palmer Lounge in the Mahaney Diamond clubhouse. “On the field, in the classroom and in the community.
“The team is eager to move forward,” added Coutts. “My first priority is to get to know the girls. I want to bring some excitement and enthusiasm to the program.”
Coutts signed a multiyear contract worth $50,000 a year, according to University of Maine athletic director Steve Abbott.
Smith went 73-81 in her three seasons at the helm. It was her second stint as the head coach at her alma mater. Smith compiled a 119-141 record in a five-year stretch from 2000-2004.
The Black Bears went 18-31 last spring, 7-10 in America East, and missed the conference playoffs after losing eight of their last nine conference games.
Maureen Barron, the wife of UMaine women’s basketball head coach Richard Barron, was the Bears’ interim coach since Smith’s resignation.
“Our goal will be to win America East and get to a (NCAA) regional,” said Coutts. “But, right now, I have to figure out what we have and get the work ethic down. I’ve also got to figure out America East.
“The last time I was here (as an assistant coach) in 1994, we went to the regional at Cal State Northridge and we had to beat (Boston University) to get there. I know we’re still going to have to go through BU (to get to a regional),” said Coutts.
Abbott said, “We couldn’t have found a better fit.
“She loves softball and the university and she has great vision for the program,” said Abbott. “She was a great softball player with a tremendous work ethic.”
Coutts was a four-year letterwinner at Maine from 1983-87. She was a Northeast All-American in 1987 and was an assistant coach at Maine from 1990-94.
She captained the Black Bears from 1985-87 and, when she graduated, the hard-throwing Coutts owned the school records for most innings pitched in a season (183) and career (544 1/3 innings); most strikeouts in a season (152) and career (318) and most victories in a season (18) and career (41).
She returned to Maine as a pitching consultant during 2007-2008.
The Coutts’ owned and operated the Frozen Ropes Training Center in Portland, an indoor facility for baseball and softball players to hone their skills.
Lynn was responsible for developing pitching and hitting curriculum for individuals and clinical use.
She also recruited and trained softball instructors, ran clinics and oversaw the budgets.
Coutts said she and her husband have sold the majority of their share in Frozen Ropes.
Coutts has also coached the Maine Thunder club softball teams and guided their Under-18 team to a fourth-place finish at the Eastern National AAU tournament in 2008.
Coutts said she has built up a “pretty good list of contacts” that she will call upon in her recruitment of players.
“I would love to get the best kids from the state,” said Coutts. “I like the Northeast. There are a lot of kids out there from the Northeast.”
Her primary emphasis will be pitching and she is confident she can get the most out of her players.
“A lot in this sport is mental,” said Coutts. “And I really feel I bring that piece to it, too. It’s about understanding the kids and what you get from them. Some of them are more talented and skilled than they think they are. And I’ve just got to get inside their heads (to bring it out).
”I’ve got to learn about each kid individually before I can put them together as a team,” she added. “I could be pleasantly surprised, I don’t know yet.”
Coutts, husband Mike, 13-year-old son Jackson and 9-year-old daughter Maggie live in Scarborough and Coutts will remain there for the school year.
“I’ll stay with some friends up here and go home on the weekends,” said Coutts, who expects to move her family to the Bangor area next spring or summer.
“This is a great community. It’s like coming home for me,” said an excited and appreciative Coutts.