The debate raged in the Edward Little dugout over whether to walk Oxford Hills’ Matt Verrier. Everyone agreed that it was a good opportunity to take one of the best bats in the state out of the game, but EL coach Darren Hartley believed the situation presented a more important opportunity for senior pitcher Cody Goddard.

“We as a coaching staff talked about putting Verrier on, but I had to let him know how much I trusted him,” Hartley said. “That was really a good moment for us in the season, not only because we came back and won but because Cody learned from it.”

It didn’t seem like a good moment at the time. Goddard pitched to Verrier and Verrier launched a towering two-run home run onto the street behind the left field fence. But Goddard did indeed take something from the moment and the game, learning not only that his coach had faith in him, but that he would have to pitch through having less than his best stuff. He gave up seven runs in six innings, but the Red Eddies won, 9-8.

“I just didn’t have great velocity on my fastball, so I had to switch it up,” Goddard said. “I threw, probably, 12 straight cruve balls that game. I think I threw more curve balls than fastballs. I didn’t have very good stuff, but I had to stay in there. That’s just one of those games where you’ve got to step up for your team.”

Goddard’s teammates learned to trust him in his next start, a big game against KVAC North power Messalonskee. Both teams were 6-1 at the time and hoping to prove they belonged among the conference elite.

Goddard gave up another early home run, this one little more than a pop fly to Messalonskee’s short left field porch by freshman Sam Dexter. This time, though, he found his fastball and gave up just one hit the rest of the way as the Red Eddies took an 8-2 win.

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“That game really gave us a lot of confidence as a team and we were able to come together more and start playing better baseball,” Goddard said.

“He was just so commanding in that game,” Hartley said. “After that, the guys felt like every time he was on the mound, we had a chance to win. In fact, we knew we were going to win.”

And they did win. Relying on the same strong right arm that made him an all-state quarterback in the fall, Goddard went undefeated during the regular season before dropping the Eastern Class A semifinal to eventual regional champion Cony. He finished 6-1 with a 2.85 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 40 innings.

What put Goddard over the top for the Sun Journal Baseball Player of the Year, though, was an unexpected explosion at the plate. For the first three years of his high school career, Goddard either batted in the bottom third of the order or not at all, deferring to a designated hitter.

This year, he batted .494 with 32 RBIs and a home run. The difference for his senior campaign, Goddard said, was – surprise – confidence.

“I worked really hard after football, and I had a great preseason, so I just knew something was going to be special this year,” he said.

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Even before he backed him on the mound, Hartley sensed that all Goddard needed was for his coach to show a little confidence in him at the plate. So he slotted him in the clean up spot in a powerful EL lineup.

Again, faith rewarded.

“He only had a couple of bad plate appearances, maybe three, all year,” said Hartley, who is also EL’s football coach. “In the big games, he was just nails. Down the stretch, people started putting him on.”

Goddard said he contemplated not playing at all this season because of the sudden passing of his father, Mike, in February and because baseball coach Scott Annear had stepped down.

He said he found the emotional strength to play by remembering how his father supported him through a difficult stretch during football season.

“That’s definitely what he would have wanted me to do. He never would have wanted to see me quit or anything,” Goddard said. “He just always said ‘Never quit,’ and it was my senior year, so it would have been pretty hard to just throw everything down.”

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There was still the matter of the coaching vacancy, though. Again, Goddard found his answer from football season.

“When I found out coach Hartley was coaching, it was a no-brainer,” he said. “He’s just a really big influence on me.”

Continuing his playing career in football and baseball, which Goddard plans to do at Husson, seems a no-brainer, too.

First Team

P – Cody Goddard, Edward Little, senior

P – Willie Brown, Livermore Falls, junior

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C – Matt Verrier, Oxford Hills, junior

1B – Josh Tainter, Livermore Falls, senior

2B – Casey Parker, St. Dom’s, senior

3B – Brett Turcotte, Oak Hill, senior

SS – Cody Hadley, Oxford Hills, junior

OF – Alex Wong, Lewiston, senior

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OF – Nick Douglass, Poland, senior

OF – Devin Flynn, Edward Little, senior

UT – Justin Staires, Mountain Valley, senior

Second Team

P – Chris Bryant, St. Dom’s, junior

P – Tucker Hill, Oxford Hills, senior

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C – Jordan Conant, Winthrop, senior

1B – Matt Laubauskas, Mountain Valley, senior

2B – Tyler Gates, Dirigo, junior

3B – Evan Humphrey, Fryeburg Academy, senior

SS – Chandler White, Livermore Falls, junior

OF – Garrett McPherson, Mountain Valley, senior

OF – Jake Steele, Winthrop, senior

OF – Taylor Valente, Gray-NG, junior

UT – Alec Wallace, Mt. Blue, junior


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