(Ed. Note: This story will appear in our July 20 southern print edition)
Something about being the underdog brings out the best in the Cape Elizabeth baseball program and coach Chris Hayward.
The Capers, who few expected to be a factor this spring, were slogging along at 6-8 late in the regular season before putting it all together. Cape Elizabeth won its final two regular season contests, then upset Freeport, Greely and Yarmouth to make it to the Western B Final. Even though Cape Elizabeth’s run ended with an improbable and painful loss to Falmouth, it was an amazing effort, yet another feather in Hayward’s cap.
One of the most widely respected coaches around, who seemingly always pushes the right buttons in June might have enjoyed his finest hour and as a result, is The Forecaster’s choice for our southern edition Spring 2012 Coach of the Year, of a boys’ team.
Hayward grew up in Presque Isle and played soccer, basketball, volleyball and baseball in high school. After attending the University of Maine, he started teaching and coaching in Presque Isle. Hayward came to Scarborough in 1991 and served as a longtime assistant to legendary baseball coach Phil Martin. His first varsity job was in Freeport in 2004. After a spending the 2005 and 2006 seasons coaching Waynflete, Hayward came to Cape Elizabeth and in his second year, in a similar run to what occurred this spring, took the Capers all the way to the state final.
After losing an abundance of talent to graduation, the Capers were raw this spring, without a single returning full-time starter, but Hayward got them to believe they could win and by the end of the season, they were doing that very thing.
“We practice to be the best and prepare to beat the best,” Hayward said.
Hayward utilized the entire Cape Elizabeth roster and as confidence improved, the Capers believed they could beat anyone. Strong pitching, clutch hitting and stellar defense sparked the three playoff wins. In the regional final, Capers hurler Sam Kozlowski threw 7.2 no-hit innings, but Falmouth advanced and went on to win the championship after the winning run scored on a passed ball.
Cape Elizabeth was awarded the sportsmanship award.
Hayward teaches math at Cape Elizabeth and lives in Scarborough. He’s the father of three children and hopes to continue to lead the Capers to great heights.
The program is in very good hands. Chris Hayward, our Spring 2012 southern edition boys’ team Coach of the Year has displayed a Midas touch and has shown that with him at the helm, anything is possible.
2011 winner: Craig MacDonald (Scarborough tennis)
2010 winner: Ben Raymond (Cape Elizabeth lacrosse)
2009 winner: Jim Cronin (Scarborough baseball)
2008 winner: Joe Hezlep (Scarborough lacrosse)
2007 winner: Craig McDonald (Scarborough tennis)
2006 winner: Tobey Farrington (Scarborough lacrosse)
2005 winner: Dave Weatherbie (Cape Elizabeth track)
2004 winner: Todd Day (Cape Elizabeth baseball)
2003 winner: Ben Raymond (Cape Elizabeth lacrosse)
2002 winner: Andy Strout (Cape Elizabeth boys’ tennis)
Jeff Perkins managed to take over a team that was one goal away from playing for a state title in 2011 and lead it to a perfect regular season this spring. The Capers might have even been the best squad in the entire state, but an agonizing regional final loss prevented them from winning a first championship.
If that feat wasn’t impressive enough, Perkins also managed to coach his daughter, Talley, one of the team’s premier players, a situation which can often prove difficult, and both managed to thrive.
Perkins led the Capers to a wonderful season and deserves praise for doing so. As a result, The Forecaster is naming Jeff Perkins our Spring 2012 southern edition Coach of the Year, of a girls’ team.
Perkins lived in Cape Elizabeth when he was young, but moved away when he was 12. In high school, he played football, basketball and baseball. He went on to play football (wide receiver) at Plymouth State (N.H.).
Perkins dabbled in coaching football out of college, but really got in to that aspect of athletics when Talley started playing lacrosse. He became a youth level coach and spent four years as the varsity team’s assistant, running the defense, before replacing Kurt Chapin as head coach this year.
Cape Elizabeth was unstoppable in the regular season, winning all 12 games behind an explosive offense and a defense that made plays when it had to, knowing senior goalie Elin Sonesson would make clutch saves when necessary.
The Capers went 12-0 for the first time in a decade, earned the top seed for the first time in the Maine Principals’ Association-sanctioned era and handled Greely in the Western B semifinals. In the regional final, against storied power and longtime nemesis Waynflete, Cape Elizabeth dominated the first half and held an 8-4 lead in the second half, but the Flyers rallied, forced overtime and broke the Capers’ hearts with an 11-10 overtime decision. That’s all that stood between Cape Elizabeth and a likely state championship.
“It was a fun season,” said Perkins, who focused largely on the offense while new assistant coach, Molly Moss, worked with the defense. “I knew it would be a good team with a lot of returning players, but I didn’t think we’d have this good a season. This group really enjoyed each other and jelled. They worked hard every day.”
Cape Elizabeth’s All-American standout and Spring Female Athlete of the Year, junior Lauren Steidl, raved about the job Perkins did.
“I have to give a lot of credit to coach Perkins,” Steidl said. “He started and has run the MAINEiax leagues and teams, part of a state-wide summer youth lacrosse organization, while at the same time coaching the Cape Elizabeth high school team. He’s very passionate about lacrosse. This year, he helped us to play more as a single unit, to pass, set up shots, assist and think of the team first. He helped us want to be a team and want to win and he really conveys a great love of the game. Both he and our assistant coaches, Molly Moss and Sally Newhall, were very inspirational.”
Perkins said that coaching his daughter had its challenges, but both parties made it work.
“It was hard work, but also a lot of fun,” Perkins said.
In addition to being the executive director of the MAINEiax team, Perkins is the director of franchising and development for Amatos and lives in Cape Elizabeth with wife Maisie and three children.
He’ll have a hard time building on his opening act, but Jeff Perkins, our Spring 2012 southern edition girls’ team Coach of the Year, figures to produce an impressive encore.
2011 winner; Marcia Wood (Scarborough lacrosse)
2010 winner: Ralph Aceto (South Portland softball)
2009 winner: Ralph Aceto (South Portland softball)
2008 winner: Tom Griffin (Scarborough softball)
2007 winner: Tom Griffin (Scarborough softball)
2006 winner: Joe Henrikson (Cape Elizabeth softball)
2005 winner: Jim Hartman (South Portland softball)
2004 winner: Susan Ray (Cape Elizabeth tennis)
2003 winner: Tom Griffin (Scarborough softball)
2002 winner: Jack DiBiase (South Portland softball)