Oak Hill catcher Abby Nadeau is the Sun Journal All-Region Softball Player of the Year. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy

Abby Nadeau was Oak Hill’s best hitter this season, but what made the senior even more valuable was all the time she put in to her catching craft, as well as all the time she put in to help her teammates perfect their various skills.

“She’s literally like the best kid I’ve ever coached,” Oak Hill coach Allyson Collins said. “She’s amazing.”

The coaches of the Mountain Valley Conference also thought Nadeau was the league’s best player this season, and named her the conference’s player of the year.

“I was completely shocked, honestly,” Nadeau said.

The numbers alone say Nadeau was deserving, with a .509 batting average, .578 on-base percentage, 23 RBIs, double-digit extra-base hits, eight steals and just two strikeouts while batting in the heart of the order for the Raiders.

Behind the plate, Nadeau oversaw a pitching staff that struck out 116 batters in 98 innings pitched. Nadeau allowed only eight stolen bases, and part of that could be attributed to new middle infielders to throw to.

Sun Journal softball player of the year, Abby Nadeau of Oak Hill High School. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

“If there’s anything that I will do well, it will be my throw-downs, it will be my blocking, it will be my catches, if I can’t get my hitting around in a game,” Nadeau said.

The hitting was rarely a problem, but Nadeau wanted to be great in every facet. She’s been working at catching since she was 6 or 7 years old, doing blocking drills outside with her dad — “We would do instances where he would throw the ball at my facemask, so I wouldn’t pull my head and I would keep it locked in when blocking” — or “a lot, a lot” of practice on her throw-downs.

Blocking was a key during her four-year career, particularly while catching for classmate Sadie Waterman (the 2017 Sun Journal All-Region Player of the Year), who throws a devastating drop ball.

“She couldn’t let anything get by because that was one of Sadie’s best pitches and we needed it, but Abby knew she had to get down and had to block that ball, and she did every single time,” Collins said. “Her perfection in terms of blocking was just incredible, as well as her arm.”

Nadeau felt quite confident in her throw-downs, and the low stolen base total is due in part to opposing teams seeing her working on it in pregame warm-ups, according to Collins.

“I always did have the confidence knowing if you were going to run on me I will get you out. Like there will be no issue in that,” Nadeau said. “It was always my intent, and I always had that in my mind.”

It wasn’t just Waterman that Nadeau caught for this season and last, but also another classmate, Molly Flaherty, who like Nadeau and Waterman was an All-MVC selection this season.

“I think just the confidence that both pitchers had in Abby, knowing that no matter what they could throw anything and knowing that Abby was there for them, and that she was like a wall,” Collins said. “That they could throw anything and they had confidence in her every single day, and no matter what, Abby was there for them, and she was going to catch anything they threw.”

Collins said “there is no replacing a player” like Nadeau, but her star senior has helped start the transition to life without her by her leadership and teaching of the younger players.

“Naturally, I love helping people and just seeing them get better. Like, it makes me so happy to see my teammates get better,” Nadeau said.

Collins will be sad to see Nadeau move on, but she said she is happy for the time she got with her.

“She’s that player that would absolutely run through a wall for you. Anything you ask her to do she would so,” Collins said. “She is just the player that every coach would want, and it’s the player that you get once in a lifetime as a coach, and I was lucky enough to get her.”

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