High school notebook: Woodsville baseball’s Cox named coach of the year

  • Thetford's Aiden Cudhea.

  • Woodsville head coach Brent Cox watches his team from the dugout in Woodsville, N.H., Wednesday, May 15, 2019. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 6/12/2019 9:57:19 PM

WOODSVILLE — With a turn of fortune, Brent Cox might have been better versed at driving golf balls than directing on a diamond. His Woodsville High baseball program can be thankful that never happened.

The Baseball Coaches Association of New Hampshire recognized Cox’s work recently by naming him its coach of the year for NHIAA Division IV. The Engineers had an undefeated regular season, coming within a game of making the state finals for the first time in more than four decades.

A Missisquoi Valley Union High School graduate, Cox once gave up baseball for golf but came back to the former in college. His Engineer teams have reaped the benefits of his knowledge over the last six springs, no more so than during the season recently concluded.

“Obviously, I was pretty excited to see my peers thought enough of me to nominate me, but to get the vote was something special,” Cox said in a phone interview on Tuesday night. “We definitely put in the work. We tried to provide good sportsmanship wherever we went, and I’m glad that was recognized.

“We try to always be respectful of other teams and coaches. I think they recognized the relationship I have with my players and how much pride that I have in the school and our programs.”

The Engineers have been on a steady rise over Cox’s six seasons at the helm. His first team, in 2014, won only two of 17 games; Woodsville has followed that with three 12-win campaigns, a 13-win season last year and a 17-1 mark this spring in which the Engineers secured the top seed in the D-IV tournament. Woodsville, which has gone 67-38 under Cox, was ousted by eventual champion Newmarket in last week’s D-IV semifinals.

Cox, 36, of Haverhill, gave up baseball as a Missisquoi junior to concentrate on golf back when both were Vermont spring sports, figuring the Thunderbirds had a better chance at a state championship in the latter at the time. That title never materialized, but Cox returned to baseball upon entering Lyndon State College and enjoyed a fair amount of playing success up to his 2007 graduation.

“My junior year, I actually started and played every position on the field,” Cox recalled. “It was something that I’d worked toward, being able to provide as much depth to the team as I could. We had a few injuries along the way, and they had me moving around quite often.”

That kind of versatility is essential in high school baseball, particularly on small-school teams with limited rosters. Woodsville will lose just three players to graduation, leaving Cox and the Engineers in position to make another title charge in 2020. Cox said he’ll be adding fellow D-IV semifinalist Sunapee to next year’s schedule to get a better read on what teams in the southern half of the state have to offer.

As for golf, fret not for Cox’s swing. He became Woodsville’s coach last year.

“I’m not as good as I could be,” he laughed. “I think coaching baseball cuts into that.”

Panther Player of the Year: Thetford Academy senior Aiden Cudhea capped his high school baseball career by sharing the Capital League’s player of the year award with U-32’s Owen Kellington this week.

The Panthers’ starting shortstop and leadoff batter hit .456, topping the team in hits (21), runs (19), doubles (three), triples (three) and stolen bases (24). Cudhea’s efforts set the table for Thetford’s run to the VPA Division III semifinals, where they were eliminated by eventual champion White River Valley.

“He put in the hard work in the offseason,” Thetford coach Phil Chaput said on Wednesday. “He just took a great approach every day. … He just took pride in getting on base and playing hard every day.”

Cudhea joined teammates Alden Nichols and Jake Colby along with Oxbow’s Cody Grant on the all-league first team. The Panthers’ Seth Boyce and Ryan Pepe and the Olympians’ Jackson Schramm landed on the second team.

All-Star Season: The end of the high school season marks the start of the summer all-star high school game campaign, with the first contests set for the next two weeks.

The Twin State Field Hockey Classic will start off the schedule on July 21 at Saint Anselm College. The Byrne Cup lacrosse games at Lebanon High and Twin State Baseball Classic in White River Junction are the following day.

The Twin State Lions Cup will take place at Castleton University on July 20, with the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl football game taking up residence on Aug. 3. The latter will be prefaced by the CHaD East-West Game at UNH on June 29.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.




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