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Fisher Cats honor NHIAA champions

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 22. 2015 10:03PM

MANCHESTER — It’s not often that a state champion from an ice hockey team or a wrestling squad gets an invitation to throw out the first pitch at a New Hampshire Fisher Cats game. But that was the case Monday at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium when high school athletes representing 13 NHIAA state championship teams from the 2014-2015 school year created a memorable moment for themselves.

“I never thought I’d be here and I’m a field hockey player,” said Heidi Martin of Lebanon. Martin closed out her career a champion when the Raiders defeated Windham 2-1 in double overtime for the Division II championship last fall. “This was fun today and I got to meet other athletes from other schools who also won a state championship this year in their sport.”

Schools represented before the start of Monday’s game between the Fisher Cats and Binghamton Mets were the Coe-Brown of Northwood girls’ basketball team, Oyster River of Durham girls’ and boys’ swimming team, Sunapee girls’ basketball, Hillsboro-Deering golf, Hollis/Brookline wrestling, Merrimack girls’ volleyball, Pinkerton Academy of Derry boys’ swimming, Prospect Mountain of Alton boys’ soccer, Mascenic Regional of New Ipswich cross country, Wilton-Lyndeborough boys’ basketball, Inter-Lakes of Meredith boys’ track, Dover High softball and Portsmouth Christian Academy baseball.

“We’ve been honoring the state high school champions for a few years now and the idea behind it is to simply honor the athletes and teams,” said Rick Brenner, president and general manager of the Fisher Cats. “We also have a very good partnership with the NHIAA and it continues to grow year to year.”

Many of the parents were allowed to stand on the field and take photos and videos of their sons and daughters, allowing the families to return home with a keepsake for life. “That’s what’s gratifying about this, the special moments made on this field throwing out the first pitch,” said Brenner.

Last week Portsmouth Christian Academy celebrated a Division IV baseball championship at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, beating defending champion Sunapee 10-1 behind a 19-strikeout performance from junior righthander Wes Tobin. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Tobin struck out the side in the first, third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings and finished with a one-hitter to complete his 10-0 season in style.

“Anyone who didn’t follow us has to remember that Wes also struck out 19 batters earlier in the tournament against Lisbon,” said Portsmouth Academy head coach Brad Taylor. “He, along with his dad, told us before the championship game that he could go as long as we needed him because he wasn’t going to play summer ball this summer. He ended up throwing 130 pitches and just painted the corners to perfection against a very good program that had won three state titles in four years.”

Taylor praised the Fisher Cats for giving his kids and the rest of the state a chance to be recognized for their achievements as state champions. “It’s a classy organization which does a great job reaching out to the community,” said Taylor. Christian Hollis of Portsmouth Christian said the month of June has been memorable for him. “I got to celebrate a championship with my team, take batting practice at Fenway Park and throw out the first pitch at a Fisher Cats game,” said Hollis. “It doesn’t get better than that.”

Amber Gibbons, a softball catcher from Campbell of Litchfield, enjoyed her moment on the Fisher Cats’ mound. “It was fun throwing a baseball to the plate. Not exactly a softball, but close enough,” she laughed. Gibbons and her teammates won their third straight Division III softball title earlier this month. “It’s an awesome feeling, something I’ll never forget,” said Gibbons, who will attend Merrimack College this fall.


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