Bethel players get a pep talk in the dugout. Rose Lincoln

Ayva Jeseleskis of Woodstock is safe at third. Rose Lincoln

Woodstock player, Morgan Benson, pitches to Bethel. Rose Lincoln

WOODSTOCK — Under blue skies in fading afternoon light, Bethel’s softball team played Woodstock in Woodstock’s handsome green stadium on North Main Street.

Girls on the Bethel side were especially enthusiastic, cheering for fellow players and announcing, “we are Bethel, here to stay …” Youth sports are about learning and one player learned the difference between right and left field after declaring someone was in her position on the field.

In the Woodstock dugout a player, returning from striking out, said, “Can someone tell my brother to shut-up!” Meanwhile a fan in the stands was rooting for the girl at bat, “C’mon Peanut, c’mon”

Andy League baseball and softball director Nate Crooker said about 150 children are playing baseball or softball this spring. Children come from Bethel, Gilead, Hanover, Andover, Newry, Greenwood, Woodstock, even Harrison and Waterford, he said.

“Our enrollment has been increasing, this year we have additional teams compared to prior years especially at the younger levels … kids are coming back year after year … we get a lot of returning players,” said Crooker who has 10-year-old Abe and 8-year-old Cecilia in the program. He and his wife are both coaching teams.

Games are mostly at 6 p.m. on weeknights at the fields at Telstar High School; Crescent Park School; in Greenwood, in Woodstock; and at Lone Pine Field in Newry. Playing will continue until the end of the school year.


Everyone who signs up, age seven to 14, plays as a rookie, minor, or major. As part of the Andy Valley League they play against children in their own league but also against children in the Oxford Hills School district and as far away as Poland and Mechanic Falls.

Bethel Recreation manages the equipment and the volunteer coaches and team rosters. Greenwood, Woodstock and SAD 44 maintain the fields they use for practices and games, said Mary Scanlon of Bethel Recreation.

“Through Bethel Rec, all of our teams are outfitted with the equipment that they need: bats, helmets, catchers’ gear, balls… all the kids are responsible for their gloves, their baseball pants and cleats and even at the younger ages that is somewhat optional… we try to make it so there are no big barriers to join,” said Crooker.

Woodstock’s Gracie Cooper, left, cheers the out she made at third with Morgan Benson, on right. They were playing Bethel in softball at the Woodstock baseball field. Rose Lincoln


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