Moultonborough's Maddy Greene uncorks a pitch during action this spring against Canaan-Pittsburg in the NHIAA Division IV tournament. Greene, who broke the school record in strikeouts during her five-year varsity career, will play collegiately at the University of Southern Maine beginning this fall. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
July 25, 2016MOULTONBOROUGH – For half a decade, No. 8 occupied the pitching circle at Moultonborough Academy. Strikeout records fell, Final Four appearances were finally realized. Simply put, Maddy Greene lifted the softball program to heights it hadn't seen in some time.
As strange as it will be for the Moultonborough community to see a new pitcher leading the program next spring, leaving her familiar spot will be just as bizarre for Greene. She still isn't exactly sure what those emotions will entail.
"I feel like Moultonborough has been my whole life," explained Greene. "Being a Panther and being from Moultonborough Academy has been my whole career. It's going to sting watching someone else wear that No. 8 jersey. I've worn it the last five years and it's become part of who I am."
After moving well past the 700 strikeout mark for her career and guiding the Panthers to their second consecutive Final Four this spring, Greene graduated in June and now readies for the next stage of her athletic and academic career. She'll play collegiately at the University of Southern Maine, having committed back in October just hours removed from an overnight trip to the campus.
"On the ride home, I e-mailed the coach and said that this was my choice," recalled Greene. "I know a couple of the girls on the team, but really I just got a strong vibe from the school and it felt like a really good fit."
The reigning Division IV Pitcher of the Year began her softball journey in fifth grade. With some help from her uncle as well as cousin Brady, she worked on her pitching and slowly began a ride that would carry on nearly a decade later.
"I was late to the game," she admitted. "I liked playing early on but it really wasn't a competitive thing, I just kind of went with it. None of it was about statistics or anything, just about playing back then."
She played Babe Ruth softball with players from Meredith, and following one particular game against Plymouth, she was invited to join a Plymouth summer team. Her nearly full-time commitment to softball took off from there.
"I'm just a very competitive person so as the people around me got better, I needed to step up my game," she explained. "I signed up for every clinic I could, did indoor sessions with Mr. (Harry) Blood. I just kept steadily progressing up."
The biggest leap of all came as Greene entered eighth grade. With MA losing starting pitcher Jenna Calzada to graduation the previous year, there was a void in the Panther pitching circle. Head coach Lindsay Bliznik decided to turn the fate of her program over to an eighth grader, investing heavily in the right arm of Greene. It turned out to be a gamble worth taking.
"I remember thinking that I can't mess this up because so many people don't want me here, don't want an eighth grader as the starting pitcher on varsity," Greene recalled. "I had to work hard and hold myself to a high standard. And actually, that year was probably my best pitching year looking back. I broke the single season strikeout record that year (as an eighth grader) and I don't think people expected that."
Fitting in with her older teammates was an issue Greene worried about entering that rookie season. But MA takes a yearly preseason trip to play in a jamboree in Rhode Island, giving the squad valuable bonding time before the true grind of the regular season begins. She said that first trip was invaluable.
"I think that's when the team realized I'm an actual person and they respected me," Greene said. "They saw that I was there for the team and I was capable of helping."
Fast-forward to this past spring, as Greene tossed her last pitch in an MA uniform in the team's loss to Gorham in the D-IV semifinals. It was the second consecutive trip to the Final Four for the Panthers, though the state title remained elusive.
"It stings a little still," admitted Greene. "But I'm happy with the progress we made for the program. Us seniors have seen the whole thing completely change over since we got here. My eighth grade year, it was a huge deal that we made the playoffs. Last year, we made the finals so it was completely crazy to see the change in the program."
Her last game as a Panther was indeed bittersweet. After five years of finding herself right in the middle of all the action, Greene's career came to a close in the blink of an eye.
"It was really hard for me to swallow that pill," she began. "It was over, there was no next year. I went home, fell asleep, then woke up and re-watched the game at 3 a.m. I got all the tears out after the game. At that point, I just needed to know what I could have done differently."
That competitive fire will undoubtedly serve Greene well at Southern Maine. She's playing for the Nor'Easter 18U club this summer in preparation, and she leaves for school on Aug. 27.
"They're a growing program, just like Moultonborough has been," offered Greene of USM. "That's something that drew me to them. I'm so familiar with that. I think I can relate to that situation and I can help in some way because I've had a part in a growing program."
As for her own play and abilities translating to the collegiate level, Greene said she's excited for the challenge that could see her in the outfield, as well as in the pitching circle.
"I think I can always grow in maturity," she began. "I've definitely seen a difference from eighth grade to now in how I carry myself on the mound. But there's so much more to grow from here. This isn't the end. Just because I lost here, it's not the end. I have a whole other career coming towards me. I have a lot more to do.
"I could see time in the outfield," she continued. "I will have a lot of opportunity to try new things that I couldn't in high school. There's a lot more growing to do as an athlete. Moultonborough only really knows me as a pitcher but I feel I'm so much more than that. I'm excited to get the chance to show it."