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Roger Brown's The State of Sports: Sachs raised the bar for softball in Granite State

By ROGER BROWN
New Hampshire Union Leader

September 10. 2017 11:34PM

Harold Sachs 

Perhaps no NHIAA varsity coach did more for their sport than Harold Sachs, who stepped down as Salem High School’s softball coach last week.

Sachs, 63, was known as a pitching guru. He had two tours of duty at Salem (1982-94 and 1999-2017) and the Blue Devils were 611-88 under his guidance. No NHIAA softball coach has won more games.

Back when NHIAA rules were more restrictive with respect to coaches working with their players during the offseason, Sachs would help pitchers from around the state — many of whom would be throwing against him in the spring — even when he couldn’t work with his own staff.

“Harold would work with any pitchers — from the Seacoast to the North Country down to the southern and western parts of the state — to develop and improve their game,” Spaulding coach Sheila Colson explained. “His discipline, character, and performance has been a driving force promoting the development and strength of New Hampshire softball. He has been a mentor and friend over the years always willing to give me a tip or two. When I was a young coach he told me: ‘You coach in practice, players perform in games.’

“I believe his presence on the diamond made many New Hampshire coaches and players strive to excel. He brought out the best in other teams.”

Sachs guided the Blue Devils to 15 state championships and five runner-up finishes. Salem has won 18 state titles overall, and is tied with Crescent High School in Iva, S.C., for the top spot nationally for most state championships won by a high school softball program.

Salem will now be looking for a new head coach, and the rest of the state may have to find a new pitching coach.

“I grew up in Hudson and when I was in junior high in the early ’90s there weren’t many options for pitching coaches,” Alvirne softball coach Sarah Brisk said. “My first clinician made a point of telling my family that ‘Harold Sachs is never going to teach Sarah anything (because) she isn’t from Salem.’ That was far from the case.

“Coach Sachs was tireless in his support of me personally, and to hundreds of New Hampshire ballplayers, and his knowledge and dedication to the New Hampshire softball community will be sorely missed.”

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Two players in the Toronto Blue Jays’ organization were among the five finalists who were considered by Baseball America for its 2017 Minor League Player of the Year award, which went to Ronald Acuna, an outfielder in the Atlanta Braves system.

Shortstop Bo Bichette and third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. were the Blue Jays finalists who could see time with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats next season.

Bichette, 19, split the season between low Class A Lansing (Midwest League) and high Class A Dunedin (Florida State League) and finished the year with a .362 batting average. He was second among all minor league players in on-base percentage (.423), 10th in hits (162) and 14th in slugging percentage (.565).

Guerrero, 18, led the minors in on-base percentage (.425) and showed good plate discipline by walking (76) more than he struck out (62). He completed the season with a .323 batting average a .485 slugging percentage.

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Some news and notes regarding University of New Hampshire athletics:

• Those of you in need of a college hockey fix won’t have to wait much longer. UNH opens the regular season — Dick Umile’s final season — with a game at UMass-Lowell on Oct. 6. The Wildcats will play their first home game the following night against the River Hawks. UNH will also play an exhibition game against St. Francis Xavier University in Durham on Oct. 1.

• The UNH men’s soccer team, which entered last weekend ranked 24th in the country, remained unbeaten (4-0-1) by earning a 1-1 tie against Columbia on Saturday. UNH trailed until Exeter resident Jacob Gould collected his first collegiate goal in the 64th minute. Windham’s Andrew Pesci, UNH’s starting goalkeeper, has stopped 12 of the 13 shots he’s faced this season.

• UNH unveiled new football helmets for its 22-12 victory over Georgia Southern on Saturday. The blue helmets with the interlocking NH looked sharp, and here’s hoping they won’t spend the rest of the season in storage. Since there are home and away uniforms, why not home and away helmets?

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Weare’s Brendan Johnson was among the Endicott football players who were featured on ESPN’s SportsCenter AM on Sunday after the Gulls scored on a 31-yard TD pass with no time remaining to beat Bridgewater State 29-28 Saturday.

Endicott trailed 28-22 with 1:51 to play, but moved the ball 92 yards in nine plays. One of the key plays was a 51-yard pass from quarterback Joe Kalosky to Johnson on a fourth-and-10 play from the 8-yard line.

Johnson, a sophomore, played quarterback at Bishop Brady High School in Concord.

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A reminder that this week’s Union Leader Power Poll will be released in Tuesday’s edition.

rbrown@unionleader.com


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