By Mike Whaley
Foster’s Daily Democrat
October 05. 2014 11:47PM
Marshwood baseball coach Fernandes stepping down
SOUTH BERWICK, Maine — Citing the growing demands of his landscaping business, Eric Fernandes has decided to step down as head coach of the Marshwood High School baseball team.
“I made the decision, but it wasn’t easy,” said Fernandes, who coached the Hawks for eight seasons and amassed a record of 95-45. That included 45-10 the past three years. “We’re growing a little bit (at Fernandes and Sons Landscaping in Eliot). It’s easy to not pay attention to things when I’m doing the baseball team. I feel I’m letting people down, and I don’t want to let people down.”
Fernandes certainly didn’t let the Marshwood baseball down. The Hawks made the playoffs seven times in his eight years, advancing the past two years to the Western Maine Class A championship game. Last spring they lost to Windham, 2-0, in nine innings; and in 2013 they fell to Westbrook, 5-0.
In 2012, the Hawks went 14-3 overall, earning the top seed in Western Maine Class A, but were upset in the regional quarterfinals.
“It was a perfect job,” Fernandes said. “I live five minutes from the high school. I feel it came down to being a decision I didn’t want to make, but I had to make it.”
Fernandes says there have been some good memories. First and foremost in his mine was coaching his sons, Zac and Luke.
“Being on the high school field with them was special,” he said. “I’ve also seen a lot of talent go on to play college ball. I’ll miss the camaraderie between the players and the coaches. Every day was fun to be on that ballfield. Marshwood is very involved as a community, not in just baseball and sports. I got a chance to be a part of that.”
Both his sons played or are playing in college. Zac played at the University of Southern Maine, while Luke, the 2012 Gatorade Maine Player of the Year, is currently on scholarship at Boston College.
Eric Fernandes said one of his toughest memories was the last year he spent with 2012 graduate Troy Pappas, who died that fall from injuries suffered at Bates College when he fell down a dormitory stairwell.
“Being allowed to remember him with his parents and the administration, I’m grateful for that,” he said.
The baseball program grew stronger during Fernandes’s tenure.
“There’s a lot of talent in the Seacoast,” he said. “You’ve got a bunch of kids with talent and they work hard. They don’t know how far they can go. Winning a state championship, I didn’t get to experience that. That talent didn’t get to experience that.”
With nearly the entire team back in 2015, that part made the decision very difficult.
“It weighed heavy because you know you have the potential,” Fernandes said. “They were as invested as (the coaches) were. But they’re independent kids and they are self-motivated. It makes it easier to know that when you leave there is something strong behind you. That made it a little easier. They clearly have good leadership. I think there’s a desire to go one step beyond last year. What it’s going to take to do that is the kids.”
Fernandes has peace of mind that he was left the program in a good place.
“I think so, not just this year,” he said. “The last two years we’ve had four new pitchers each year. The talent is there. And we have a lot of young talent. The freshmen have been very successful. Ideally we want to keep the door revolving and it appears to be.”
Fernandes has 19 years of baseball coaching experience at various levels from Cal Ripken to JV to Seacoast Mavericks to American Legion to high school.
“I’m grateful to all the kids who have come through the program that I’ve been a part of,” he said. “The hardest thing is to walk away with things so good. But it’s hard to get on a bus knowing a customer is angry at you. I’ve been fortunate to do it so long.”
Fernandes said he had a 10-year plan that came up two years short.
“I wouldn’t change a thing,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of support from the kids and the parents and the administration. Whoever gets the job will be in good shape.”