WESTBROOK – Westbrook High has hired new varsity baseball and softball coaches.
Greg Souza, a former assistant, is the new Blue Blazes’ baseball coach, and Dee (Regan) Allen will coach softball. Allen has coached Portland for the last three seasons.
Their nominations were approved Wednesday night by the Westbrook School Committee.
Souza replaces Mike Rutherford, who resigned this fall. The Blazes were 17-4 last year, losing to Cheverus in the Western Class A final. Allen takes over for Melanie Craig, who was named Deering athletic director last summer.
“I’m very excited,” said Souza. “We should be all right next season. We will have a lot of talented players who people don’t know much about. The program graduated three really good pitchers, but the young pitchers returning could have pitched for a lot of teams last year.”
Souza will work with players from last summer’s Westbrook Junior League team that captured the New England title.
Souza, who works for Stone Coast Mortgage in Westbrook, spent five years with the Westbrook program prior to serving as bullpen coach and assistant pitching coach for Will Sanborn at St. Joseph’s College last spring.
Souza has been an assistant varsity coach, a junior varsity coach and a freshman coach for Westbrook. For the last three summers he coached Westbrook’s American Legion baseball team.
With the graduation of strong pitching and hitting, the Blazes will look to approach things differently.
“With players like the Gardiners, (Scott) Heath, (Zach) Collett and (Sean) Murphy, they could hit doubles all game. We will look to do more running next season and manufacture runs,” Souza said. “If we play good defense and get good pitching, I feel we’ll have a strong season. We won’t have the name players like some of the other teams do.”
The Blazes return catcher Kyle Heath, who started as a freshman last season, center fielder Joe Quinlan, who will be starting his third season, first baseman Sam Stauble, who will be another three-year starter, and pitchers Joe Dvilinsky, Keenan Lowe and Zack Bean.
“I’ve worked with Mike Rutherford and Will Sanborn,” said Souza. “Those are two pretty successful coaches.”
Allen, whose maiden name is Regan, was a pitching standout at Portland High, where her 54 wins from 1997 to 2000 are best in school history. She led the Bulldogs to the 2000 Class A state title and went on to pitch at St. Joseph’s College.
Allen had hoped to build the Portland program and compete for a title down the road, but the team struggled because of inexperience and won only two games in three seasons. Allen said it was still a tough decision to leave, and one that wasn’t based on the losses.
“It was a combination of things,” said Regan, 29, who works as an educational technician at Lyman Moore Middle School in Portland. “It’s more about the opportunity to build a program. You need to be involved with the kids at the middle school level. That’s not allowed at Portland and Deering because they regard that as recruiting.
“When I became softball coach at Portland, I thought it was a dream job. I love those girls. I have great relations with them. It was an emotional meeting when I told the players I was going to Westbrook.”
Allen said other factors make Portland a challenging place to coach.
“There’s no feeder system and the Little League softball program has diminished,” she said. “At Portland it was challenging coordinating practice time at the Expo because of the Red Claws and the Sea Dogs. We had to share a softball field with Deering.”
Allen also has family members coaching in Westbrook and has seen the support the community has toward athletics.
“My husband, Joe, is an assistant football coach for Westbrook and my brother-in-law, Andy Lefebvre, is the girls’ soccer coach. I found myself at a lot of Westbrook sporting events,” she said.
Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: