New Old Orchard Beach baseball coach Tom LaChance talks to his team after a scrimmage on Thursday.

New Old Orchard Beach baseball coach Tom LaChance talks to his team after a scrimmage on Thursday.

OLD ORCHARD BEACH — Tom LaChance left the Old Orchard Beach baseball program in 2011 after racking up 99 wins in just over nine years on the bench for the Seagulls.

When last baseball season rolled around, LaChance started to miss the game and found himself traveling around the area to watch games.

“Last year, I missed it and I went and scouted every team in the playoffs,” said LaChance.

Those scouting trips will hopefully pay some dividends as LaChance returns to the OOB dugout and will look to lead the Seagulls back to the playoffs, while also rebuilding the program for the long haul.

LaChance takes over a team that went 6-10 last season, and although this year could be looked at as a rebuilding season, the head coach has loved what he has seen from the Seagulls so far this season.

“It’s awesome. I have a great group of young kids, we are really a young team, but as far as the love of the game, the passion, it’s already there,” said LaChance.

One thing LaChance is hoping to instill quickly is the ability to win close games.

“We need to work a little bit more on our fundamentals and develop the attitude about winning, because once they understand how winning happens … it’s contagious,” said LaChance. “That’s what I hope to bring back. I was very successful in all 10 of my first seasons and it was fun.”

LaChance believes one thing the 2016 Seagulls have is depth.

“I’ve never coached a group of kids, even with my very successful teams, like this. I’m like 16 deep and they are all fighting for spots and they know it,” said LaChance, who wants to see his players fight for starting positions. “When they make a mental error or make a physical error, they know the person is ready to come right in for them. That puts more pressure on them, but I think that’s what they need … and when we get to playoffs, that will be out of their system.”

LaChance believes this year will be a stepping stone for the future, but he also knows that anything can happen if you reach the postseason.

“I hate to tell them all the time that next year we are going to be the team to beat, but realistically, that is probably going to be the situation,” said LaChance. “I tell them, ‘just get to the playoffs and then it’s just win four games and that can happen to anybody.’”

While LaChance had an impressive first stint with the Seagulls, it was the current group that was able to give the coach a milestone win – as OOB beat Buckfield last Thursday to give LaChance win No. 100.

“My first game coming back was my 100th win, so that meant something to me,” said LaChance.

Now, the current Seagulls are doing some research to find out how many more wins LaChance needs to reach another milestone.

“My next chase is my dad and the boys are working on finding out how many wins my dad has,” said LaChance, whose dad, Art, was a legendary OOB coach.

LaChance was happy to earn his 100th win with this group of players, who were a big reason why he returned to the dugout.

“When these kids were in Little League, I was watching them. My goal was to be part of that program so they wanted to play for me someday. A lot of them are a reason why I’m back here because they just wanted me to coach again,” said LaChance.

One thing that has changed from LaChance’s last stint as head coach is the fact that The Ballpark is now available for the Seagulls – and the OOB coach is a big reason why.

“It is awesome to be able to come back and play on something that I put in probably four to five thousand volunteer hours to bring back,” said LaChance.

The Seagulls (1-0) will visit Waynflete on Monday.

Sports Editor Pat McDonald can be reached at [email protected] or at 282-1535 ext. 322. Follow the Journal Tribune Sports Department on Twitter @ JournalTsports.

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