BANGOR, Maine – Once a Ram, always a Ram.
Those were the words uttered by many of the folks who gathered in the team room at the Bangor High softball field Thursday afternoon when Rams’ senior pitcher Sam Bedore signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the University of Rhode Island — whose mascot is also the Rams.
The righthander was joined by coach Don Stanhope, her parents Bob and Vickie, teammates and friends at a press conference.
“It’s been a great three seasons with Sam. We’ve also enjoyed some great summers, a lot of great softball,” Stanhope said.
Bedore has had an outstanding first three seasons for the Rams, compiling a 29-6 record with a miniscule 0.83 earned run average, 410 strikeouts — including 223 as a junior — and only 62 walks in 269 innings.
Bedore is receiving a full athletic scholarship to URI.
“It’s just a great way to say congratulations to her for all the hard work that she’s put in,” Stanhope said.
Bedore, who pitched every inning of every game for Bangor last spring, was leaning toward Rhode Island all the way, even though the five-hour driving distance from Bangor was an issue.
“That was definitely a concern at first about how far away it was, because I’m definitely a daddy’s girl,” Bedore said. “But after going and visiting the college and seeing how great it is there and absolutely loving it, I’m not worried about the time difference anymore.”
Bedore lives and breathes softball, as she has taken trips to Florida and pitched at Frozen Ropes in Portland, which aided the development of a pitcher in a state where its impossible to throw outside year-round.
“It isn’t easy to be a softball player in Maine. We don’t have the luxuries that they do in other parts of the country,” Stanhope said. “In order to go to the level that she’s at, she’s really had to put in a tremendous amount of work.”
The atmosphere that Rhode Island coach Erin Layton and her staff provided was the main attraction to the Kingston school for Bedore.
“The coaching staff is a big reason why I loved it so much. They were so genuine and nice and I just loved them,” she said. “It’s definitely important to like your coaches and like your teammates.”
While Bedore was part of a three-player pitching rotation as a freshman and sophomore — the Rams advanced to the Eastern Maine Class A championship game Bedore’s sophomore campaign — her junior season was when she really broke out, compiling a 0.26 ERA in 131 innings while surrendering only five earned runs.
“I definitely learned a lot from the upperclassmen [Amy Wadleigh and Sam Besse] because I definitely looked up to them,” Bedore said. “I admired the leadership and that’s one thing I took away from them.”
Selecting a college is arguably the most stressful thing that is put on a high school senior — especially an athlete — so Bedore can now focus on her senior year of softball.
“It’s definitely a relief, and I have to say that Frozen Ropes did help me out a lot. They gave me such good exposure for everything,” she explained. “It’s a relief that I’m done and can enjoy the rest of my senior year.”
Bedore’s parents have played a major role in her success, along with her Bangor teammates.
“They’ve put in just as much time and effort as I have with driving me down [to Frozen Ropes] and spending the money to let me go do these things,” she said. “They’re definitely a big part of this.