Two of Maine’s brightest high school softball stars from the last five years are coming home.

Hannah Hill, from Fryeburg Academy, and Alexis Bogdanovich, from South Portland High, have transferred to the University of Maine to play for Lynn Coutts.

Hill, the Gatorade and Maine Sunday Telegram Player of the Year in both 2008 and 2009, had been at Seton Hall in South Orange, N.J. She has two years of eligibility remaining after sitting out last year with a medical redshirt. Bogdanovich, the Gatorade and Maine Sunday Telegram Player of the Year in 2011, had been at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. She has three years of eligibility remaining.

Both received partial scholarships and are immediately eligible to play.

“I haven’t seen either of them (pitch) in a couple of years,” said Coutts, who coached Hill in a summer program while Hill was at Fryeburg. “I know they were both great competitors, both talented, good kids, hard-working kids. To me it was, ‘That’s the kind of kid I want.’ And being from Maine, it’s just great that they want to come here.”

Coutts is entering her second year as head coach of the Black Bears. Maine went 17-30-1 last season, advancing to the first round of the America East tournament. Her presence in Orono was a big factor in each player’s decision to return to Maine.

“When Lynn received the position last year, I was so proud of her because I knew this is what she wanted for a long time,” said Hill, who had an 8-16 record at Seton Hall with a 5.40 earned-run average and 84 strikeouts in 167 2/3 innings. “Part of me was, ‘Oh, if only I went to Maine.’

“I’m very excited to play for Maine and represent Maine. I couldn’t think of a better way to end my career.”

Bogdanovich has never played for Coutts, who ran the softball program at Frozen Ropes, a training center in Portland, before she was hired last November. “But I know she’s been successful, is very structured and will push you to be the best player you can be,” said Bogdanovich, who was 7-10 with a 3.01 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 88 1/3 innings in her one year at Division II St. Anselm. “And I’m trying to be the best player I can be. I’m excited to be playing for her and looking forward to it.”

Bogdanovich, who will study nutrition, didn’t consider a transfer until the coaches at St. Anselm were fired with a week to go in the season last spring. At Maine she’ll rejoin sophomore Katlin Norton, her catcher in high school.

“I’ve played with her my entire life,” said Bogdanovich. “It will be cool to be together again.”

Hill, who is a chemistry major, said it was simply time to leave Seton Hall.

“I loved the school but I didn’t love the (softball) program as much as I wanted to,” she said. “After spending three years at Seton Hall and trying really hard to help the program and impact it, I didn’t get out of it what I hoped. That’s why I looked at other options.”

Their arrivals give Coutts five pitchers on the Black Bears’ roster. Coutts suggested that pitchers may play other positions. The newcomers welcome the competition.

“I’m going to use it to motivate myself,” said Bogdanovich. “I’ll try to focus on myself. If I compare myself to the other pitchers, it could kill my confidence. I’ll just try to do what I’ve done in the past.”

Hill added, “I love pitching but softball is my real love. If I’m asked to do something else, that’s part of being a team player. If she needs me to keep score, I’ll keep the best scorebook I can.”

Coutts is hoping their presence will persuade other Maine high school stars to look at staying in-state.

“I think it’s crucial to the University of Maine to get the best Maine kids,” she said. “I want kids to want to be here. I think it’s important to get the best kids to come here.

“With these two kids coming, I’m hoping that it inspires others to want to be here so they work hard and do as much as they possibly can for this to be a goal of theirs, to play for their state.”

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

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