New coaches for Lakes Region United's early development program

By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Four years ago, local soccer club Lakes Region United established an “Early Development Program” to teach essential soccer skills to players 6-9 years old. The brainchild of Belmont parent Keith Duggan, the goal was to allow young players to develop skills in a fun, local environment.
The program has been extremely popular with parents and budding soccer stars from throughout the Lakes Region. This spring 16 players participated. They were coached by Northfield resident (and member of Belmont High School’s 1998 state championship team) Dave Nelson, with Steve Jordan providing assistance.
Nelson was enthusiastic about the program, saying “We teach them foot skills, decision-making, passing, cuts, pull-backs, and other basic skills they will be using forever.”
The program involves two practices a week and an organized scrimmage (typically 3 v 3) every weekend. It runs year round (with indoor soccer at Tilton Sports Center in the winter), but players can sign up for one season at a time.
This fall, as Nelson’s son ages out of EDP, the program will be coached by former college standouts Uni Karlsson and Caitlin Dulac. Uni comes from a soccer-loving Icelandic family. He played club soccer in Iceland after helping Gilford High School win a state championship in 1990. His wife, Caitlin, was a standout defensive player at New Hampton School before playing for two years at Smith College.
Karlsson and Dulac were recruited by Duggan to lead EDP. Duggan emphasized the importance of parent coaches for Lakes Region United, a volunteer-based nonprofit organization: “We want parents who know the game to realize LRU is the club for them and that they can and should coach. Current and future teams only exist because of the efforts of coaching volunteers.”
Lakes Region United is in its ninth season with over 120 players from a variety of local towns, including Laconia, Gilford, Belmont, Gilmanton, Meredith, Alton, Moultonborough, Sanborton, Canterbury, Northfield, and New Hampton. Parents and athletes can learn more about the club at lrusoccer.com.

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Coaches Dave Nelson and Caitlin Dulac give instructions to EDP players. (Chris Leggett photo)

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Coach Dave Nelson gives instructions to an EDP player. (Chris Leggett photo)

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Bill Clary named softball Coach of the Year in Division III

By ROGER AMSDEN, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

BELMONT — Belmont High School softball coach Bill Clary, who was named Division III coach of the year, said he's proud of his players, who this year posted a 12-4 regular season record in which they defeated eventual Division III repeat champion, White Mountains, and upended a tough Bishop Brady team twice.

“Being able to compete against the top teams in the division has always been our goal and we've reached that point. Over the last three years we've averaged 12 wins a season,” said Clary, who took over as coach of a .500 team six years ago and has seen good progress towards moving deeper in post-season play.

The Raiders were 13-5 last year and lost in the quarterfinals to White Mountains.

This year they finished sixth in the division and won their opening playoff game 6-0 over Newport behind the pitching of sophomore Julianna Estremera, who allowed only two hits and struck out 13. But they lost 5-1 to Campbell in the quarterfinals.

“We had a lot of young players on this year's team and they kept getting better the more they played. We only had a roster of 12 players .and there's no junior varsity program, so we get them when they're young. It's tough without a feeder program, but the only way they can develop is by playing at the highest level from the beginning,” says Clary.

He coached at the Belmont Middle School for 10 years before becoming involved in the varsity program as an assistant to Trisha Geoffrey, who is now his assistant coach. He says that he also receives a lot of help from Bill Hart, who has been his assistant coach for nearly 20 years.

“They're so much help. I couldn't do this job without them,” said Clary.

He also coaches ASA softball and Junior Olympic softball during the summer months, noting that for players who are looking to play for college teams summer softball is a key to being recruited.

Clary, who retired a little over a year from the Laconia Police Department, where he spent 28 years and was a captain at the time of his retirement, also teaches in the law enforcement program at the Huot Center at Laconia High School.

He says that he enjoys coaching in Belmont, a community which he says puts a lot of emphasis on developing the skills of young people and maintains excellent recreational areas.

“Our playing fields are some of the best in the state and they're always well maintained. And young people know that and respect that. The bases are left on the playing field all the time and they're never stolen or vandalized. That tells you a lot about the kind of community we have here,” says Clary.

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Bill Clary, right, was named Division III softball coach of the year. He is  shown with fellow coaches Bill Hart and Trisha Geoffrey, left. and members of the 2017 team, which posted a 12-4 record in the regular season, including a victory over eventual Division III champion Wjote Mountains. (Courtesy photo)

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Six former Muskrats drafted by Major League baseball teams

By ROGER AMSDEN, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — The Winnipesaukee Muskrats announced that six current and former Muskrats were selected last week in the Major League Baseball draft, held in Secaucus, New Jersey.
Athletes from the past four summer league Muskrat squads have landed professional recognition in the draft.
Jared Brasher of Samford University and Jackson Kramer of West Virginia University represented the 2014 squad.  Both players were selected by the Washington Nationals, Brasher in the 8th round and Cramer in the 35th.   Brasher, a right-handed pitcher, finished his senior season with 46 strikeouts in 33.2 innings.  Cramer also concluded his college career for WVU at 1st base leading his with 11 homers and 46 RBI.
The 2015 class also landed two members in the draft.  Deon Stafford of St. Joseph’s University was chosen by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 5th round.   As a junior catcher for the Hawks, Stafford started in 42 games and hit .288.   In the 22nd round, Brian Mims of University of North Carolina Wilmington was selected by the Philadelphia Phillies.  Mims, a second basemen, was honored as an All-American in the 2016 season as a sophomore.  This past season, he lead the team in hits as a junior.
Jackson Tetreault (2016) and Scott Boches (2017) were also among the selected pool of players.  Tetreault just concluded his sophomore campaign on the pitching mound at the State College of Florida, notching 105 strikeouts in 80.1 innings.  The right-handed pitcher was selected in the 7th round and will join Jared Brasher and Jackson Cramer in the Washington Nationals organization.
Scott Boches, a current Muskrat from Marist College, was chosen by the Seattle Mariners in the 30th round of the draft.  Boches has not seen action with the Muskrats yet this season, but is coming off a successful year with the Foxes, throwing for 86 innings and posting a 6-5 record.
The Muskrats returned home on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 18, and posted a 7-6 win over the Sanford Mainers, bringing their season record to 4-5.
They host the Valley Blue Sox at 6:05 tonight at Robbie Mills Field and take on the division-leading Upper Valley Nighthwaks on the road Wednesday night.
They will return to Laconia Thursday when they start a three-game home stand by hosting the Keene Swamp Bats at 6:05 p.m. They will be looking to avenge an 11-5 loss at Keene last Saturday night.
On Friday the Muskrats host the Danbury Westerners and on Saturday the Danbury Westerners will come to town. They then take to the road for a game on June 26 at the North Adams Steeple Cats.
The Winnipesaukee Muskrats organization is a Summer collegiate baseball team that brings the best college baseball players from across the country to play at Robbie Mills Field.  The Muskrats are a member of the 13-team New England Collegiate Baseball League. The Muskrats joined the NECBL in October 2009 and are a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation that depends on community support and volunteers for its existence and continued operation.

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Offense off to hot start

Pair of Navetta homers leads Winnipesaukee Muskrats to 6-4 win in home opener

By ROGER AMSDEN, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — The Winnipesaukee Muskrats won their home opener 6-4 Friday night at the Robbie Mills Park behind the strong hitting of Andrew Navetta, who crushed a pair of homers, and a strong relief effort from Hunter Edwards, who shut down the Valley Blue Sox over the final two and a third innings while striking out five of the seven batters he retired.
Lefty slugger Navetta hit a two-run homer in the third inning and a solo shot in the fifth and was in the middle of a three-run rally in the seventh as the Muskrats pushed across three runs to take the lead for good.
Edwards earned the win and Muskrats starter PJ Browne, a lefty, went five innings giving up only two hits and one earned run while striking out five.
Navetta was 3-3 for the night and entered this week among the New England Collegiate Baseball league’s top hitters with a .471 average.
Friday’s win was the second straight for the Muskrats, who beat the Valley Blue Sox 4-2 Thursday night for their first win of the young season.
But they ran into trouble over the weekend on the road as they lost to the Keene Swamp Bats 7-4 Saturday night and 3-1 Sunday night to the Upper Valley Nighthawks.
Their record was 2-3 when they journeyed to Maine Tuesday night to face the Sanford Mainers.
Sunday night’s game saw some good pitching from starter Anthony Catinella who pitched five innings while giving up just five hits and two runs. He was followed to the mound by Geoffrey Kayo of Ply-mouth State University, who pitched three innings in which he surrendered three hits and one run.
Andrew Salta of Laconia made his first start of the season at second base for the Muskrats and the Plymouth State sophomore was 0 for 2.
In Saturday night’s game at Keene the Muskrats scored all four of their runs in the seventh inning to make it 6-4 but Keene tacked on an insurance run later in the game. Greg Ludwig got a pair of RBIs in the seventh for the Muskrats and came in to score when Conrad McMahon belted home run.
Kobi Claborn, the team’s designated hitter, has also been hot at the plate for the Muskrats so far this season, batting .400 with a home run and team-leading six RBIs.
Shortstop Andrew Seiner is batting .353 and has show extra base power with a double and triple.
Bill Clay returns for his second season as the Muskrats’ head coach. Clay, a longtime baseball coach and former professional scout from Texas, has more than 30 years of experience coaching top-rated college, high school and professional teams, such as Tarleton State University and the Fort Worth Cats of the American Association.  Over his career, Clay has accumulated 622 victories.  In addition he has served as an associate scout with the Cincinnati Reds and New York Mets.
Gary Calhoun returns for his second year as well and will serve as assistant coach of the Muskrats.  He joined the Muskrats in 2016 after 28 seasons as head coach of the Hillsborough Community College baseball team, located in Tampa, where he guided countless players during his tenure, including more than 50 athletes that went on to play professionally.
Alex Watson joins the staff this year as the pitching coach. Watson was born in Arizona, but raised in Las Vegas.  He was a left-handed pitcher who began his college career at the College of Southern Nevada.

 

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Winnipesaukee Muskrats celebrate one of two Angelo Navetta home runs in a 6-4 win over Valley Blue Sox in NECBL action on Friday night at Robbie Mills Park in Laconia. (Photo courtesy of Rich Tilton)

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