Former Princeton softball coach to lead Bangor High squad

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Jul. 22—There aren't many high school softball teams in the state that can say their head coach has played in three NCAA Division I softball tournaments and taken four other teams to the NCAAs as the head coach.

But someone with those impressive credentials will be the new softball coach at Bangor High School.

Maureen Barron, who guided Princeton University to four Ivy League titles and NCAA tourney appearances after pitching the Tigers to three berths and two College World Series appearances, will replace Don Stanhope as the Rams' head coach and has high expectations for the upcoming season.

"These girls love to win. It has been great fun following the Bangor Rams but now it's time for me to get my hands dirty," Barron said. "And we need to build the softball programs at the lower levels. We need more girls playing softball."

The wife of University of Maine men's basketball coach and former Black Bear women's basketball coach Richard Barron will have the opportunity to coach the couple's twin daughters, Lane and Rae.

The Barron twins will be seniors this fall.

The 55-year-old Stanhope was the head coach for 16 seasons and guided the Rams to a regular season record of 175-81. Bangor reached the Class A North title game this past spring, losing to eventual state champ Skowhegan.

He left so he and his wife, Jeannie, could move to southern Maine to be closer to their two children, Sam and Alexis, who live in Boston and New York City, respectively.

Barron spent two months as the interim softball coach at the University of Maine in the fall of 2011 after Deb Smith resigned.

Lynn Coutts was hired to replace Smith in November 2011.

"I'm excited about it," said Barron, who admitted that she was surprised to learn that Stanhope wasn't coming back.

Before she looked into the job, she asked her daughters if they would want her to coach the team.

"They said they'd love it," Barron said. "It'll be easier now because they are both well-established."

She has coached them at various levels growing up.

Lane Barron was the ace of the Rams pitching staff this past season and sister Rae was the starting third baseman. They were also two of the Rams' top hitters.

She said she intends to run it like a college program.

"We'll have high expectations. And I think we're going to have a lot of fun," said Barron, who will inherit a team with seven returning starters, most of whom played on a team for her last summer.

She said her Rams will have speed in the lineup and she is hoping to develop her players into double threats by working on bunting to go along with their hitting.

"We are very excited that Coach Barron is joining Bangor High School athletics," Bangor athletic director Steve Vanidestine said. "She is in an excellent position to mentor our student-athletes academically and athletically.

"She has an outstanding resume as a head coach but, more importantly, she has a strong desire to serve others. We have a great group of players returning and Coach Barron will only make us better," he added.

In her seven seasons as the head coach at Princeton, Barron compiled a 196-149-1 record.

The 1997 Princeton graduate returned to her alma mater as an assistant coach in 2000 after a stint as a graduate student at the University of Virginia.

She was named the head coach the following year and the Tigers won Ivy League titles that earned them NCAA berths in 2002, '03, '05 and '06.

She coached two Ivy League Players of the Year, three league Rookies of the Year and four conference Pitchers of the Year.

As a pitcher at Princeton, the Toronto native helped lead the Tigers to their first NCAA Tournament berth in 1994 and back-to-back College World Series appearances in 1995 and '96, which she considers a terrific thrill.i

She thoroughly enjoys watching the softball College World Series every spring.

But she will be busy next spring.

"This is a good fit for me. I'm looking forward to it," Barron said. "We could be really good next season."