GRAY — For a few days last week, Laura Getchell was working on her future.
The senior standout pitcher from Gray-New Gloucester High School was in Middletown, Conn., laying the groundwork for her college years at Wesleyan University. The Patriots hurler bolted from practice Wednesday and rushed down to the college for two nights before returning for action with her high school team this past weekend. Getchell decided on the school last fall and was visiting to attend activities for future students. While there, taking in two softball games was part of the trip, giving her a chance to meet some of her future teammates.
“I think it’s a good opportunity,” Getchell said of her college choice. “They were runners-up in the NESCAC last year. They lost to Tufts in the championship. They started this year with the best record in school history. That was really exciting for them, and they’re having a good year so far.”
Getchell is hoping to be part of continued success at the school. She narrowed her college prospects to NESCAC schools, and Wesleyan was the one she fell in love with. She’s excited about the possibilities that await her there.
“They’re losing their No. 1 pitcher,” said Getchell, who expects to study biology. “She’s graduating this spring. The coach is looking to recruit pitching, and she’s got me and another pitcher. They also have a freshman there now. So it looks like the pitching opportunities are going to be pretty good.”
Getchell has made a name for herself as one of the state’s top hurlers. She surpassed the 500-strikeout mark last year and helped pitch the Patriots to the Western B championship game, losing to two-time state champs Fryeburg. With that success and much of the team back, Gray-New Gloucester has high hopes to continue that progress. Though her future was on her agenda this week, Getchell is focused on a promising senior season.
“We’re definitely looking to continue going in that direction,” Getchell said. “Hopefully we can take it one step further. Every year that I’ve been playing, we made it one step further. So maybe this is the year we finally make it to that state game.”
Getchell is hoping to do her part. She’s been working on her variety of pitches and has expanded her repertoire. With the mound pushed back three feet, that might even help her. She’s been fine-tuning her drop and rise ball this year to add to her collection of options.
“Her change has become more accurate and is very nice,” said G-NG coach David Getchell, who is Laura’s father. “She’s right on target with that. She’s going to be working on the other two this season. If we can get the drop in there and throw the screwball, it could be interesting. She used the drop a little last year, but it’s getting better.”
It may be a matter of developing a little confidence and comfort throwing the new pitches, but Getchell says that is evolving every day.
Getchell is also hoping to improve her hitting. The Patriots graduated a couple of starters, but hitting is something that certainly could be improved. Coach Getchell says that has been a focus, not only for his daughter, but the entire team.
“We set a team batting average goal of 50 points above last year,” he said. “We should be able to meet that. We need to pull that together because we had a lot of wins that were one-run wins. We’ve got to have that buffer and get the pitcher a little breathing room.”
The Patriots have some adjustments to make. Getchell takes over for Gregg Eggleston, who coached the program for one year. The team is also using a freshman catcher, Samantha Wilkens, who joined the battery while Abby Ryan, last year’s catcher, is still recovering from an injury. Ryan will be used primarily as a hitter.
“We have a theme this year, ‘We Are’,” said Laura. “One of the things we need to work on collectively, aside from performance, is our mental toughness, keeping composure and our team chemistry. It’s always really important, and it’s often overlooked. We need to make sure we’re doing the right things off the field as well as on the field.”
After last year, Getchell knows there are high expectations for her and the team, but the key for all, she says, is if everyone focuses on doing her part.
“I don’t focus on my statistics,” she said. “My primary focus is to make sure that we win games. If I’m putting my team in position to win games, then I’m happy. That’s my goal.”
Coach Getchell says the team has to be prepared to live up to its own high hopes and match the determination other squads might bring. G-NG went 14-5 last year and were the fifth seed in Western Class B. York and Maranacook are expected to field strong teams and challenge for the regional crown.
“They know they have a bit of a target on their backs this year,” he said. “With (Fryeburg pitcher) Hannah (Hill) out of the picture and (Cape Elizabeth’s) Tricia Thibodeau gone, I’ve told them not to get complacent. You can not underestimate your opponent. We need to be smart about it and attack each game.”