Batter Up! NEW Softball and Baseball Programs at University of Maine at Augusta

UMA continues to expand opportunities for students with the addition of all new baseball and softball programs to its USCAA Division II athletic program beginning in the fall of 2024. UMA is a member of the Yankee Small College Conference, which currently has twelve member institutions across northern New England and New York.

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With the additions of baseball and softball, UMA now offers students eleven competitive sports through its athletics program. “Athletics are a significant part of many students’ college experience and provide important life lessons. We are excited for the opportunity to expand our department with baseball and softball,” said Chris Hart, Director of Student Life & Athletics. Expansion and growth have been Hart’s vision since joining UMA in 2021. “When I first started, we had about 35 student athletes. When we added men’s and women’s soccer last year we grew to over 70, and with the addition of softball and baseball we expect to have 110-120 active student athletes.”

With two new sports comes two new coaches. UMA is pleased to announce the hiring of Heath Cowan (Softball) and Jacob Bessey (Baseball) to begin the process of building the teams.

Heath Cowan has a lifetime of coaching experience. “My aim is to build a championship softball team right off the bat.” Said Cowan, and he is precisely the coach to do it. Currently UMA’s women’s basketball coach, he has demonstrated an ability to develop championship caliber programs, having led the team to nationals all three seasons he has been with them. His softball experience includes being Head Varsity Coach at Carrabec High School and coaching the Madison High School softball team to win State Championships and Regional Runner-up titles. Leaving his position at Madison High for UMA is bittersweet. “This means I won’t be able to coach my daughter her last year playing for Madison, but she has been very supportive and encouraging,”—a trait that seems to run in the family. Cowan understands the value of sports in a player’s life. When asked about the potential impact of adding softball to UMA athletics, Cowan didn’t hesitate, “It is really special. Providing more sports options for women shines a light on the University, not only for the great education students receive here, but for the opportunity for young women to develop leadership skills to carry into their futures. Playing on a team teaches life lessons you just can’t get in a classroom,” he said.

Jacob Bessey brings the depth of baseball knowledge, skills, techniques, and philosophies that can only come from growing up in and around the sport. Bessey’s father coached for eleven years, so, from a very young age, he was learning the game—not just how to play, but also how to be a leader—at his father’s side. In high school, Bessey played varsity all four years, and went on to play for the University of Maine at Farmington where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education. As captain of the UMF team, he was selected to the NAC All-Tournament team. For the past two years has coached baseball at Spruce Mountain, his high school alma mater, where he led Spruce to tie their best season ever and was awarded Coach of the Year. “My coaching mindset involves high individual effort and high team energy. I’m looking to have fun while working hard to improve every single day,” says Bessey. “I’m grateful to UMA for the honor of starting my college coaching career with the rare opportunity of building both the program and the team from scratch.”

Growing the athletics department has far-reaching impact for both the university and the community. “We’ve been able to change the narrative about UMA,” says Hart, “UMA has so much to offer and so many great people who can set you up for success.” When asked about his first experience on UMA’s Augusta campus, Bessey admitted, “it was much larger than I thought! UMA is no longer the small commuter school of the past; it is a full campus.” He specifically noted that the recent addition of dormitory facilities underscores the fact that UMA is not only for commuters and distance learners, but also for traditional students seeking a robust on-campus experience. Since 2018, the Augusta campus has increased from one dorm to three, and plans are in the works to offer even more housing options to UMA students. “It’s hard to have a team without on-campus living,” noted Besseey, “but UMA is building for the future, and I want to be a part of this program for a very long time.”

Cowan and Bessey are both actively recruiting athletes for their teams which will operate on a split-season schedule, playing in both the fall and spring.

Training begins in mid-August and the season starts in September. Interested prospective student athletes can complete the recruit me form by visiting and clicking on “recruit me” at the top of the page. Players of all positions are needed and encouraged to apply. Both teams are seeking pitchers.

For more information about baseball and softball at UMA, or any one of our other sports offerings, contact the Athletic Department at 207-621-3000.