The Camden Hills Regional High School softball team has been in a rough patch for well over a decade, having not ended the year with a winning record since 1999 and having five different coaches.

Now the Windjammers have yet another new coach at the helm, whom they hope will help lead them through the choppy waters of the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference this season and back above .500.

Marty Messer, 40, was named the softball team’s new varsity coach last week, according to Camden Hills Athletic Director Bill Hughes. Messer succeeds former coach Bill Hibbard, who coached for two seasons. Hibbard led the Windjammers to a 5-11 record last year, after having previously been a longtime softball coach for Camden Hills.

Hibbard coached the team for the past two seasons, having taken over for Ron Hawkes, who also guided the team for two years. Hawkes replaced the duo of John Kelly and Gary Hamill who co-coached for one season. Kelly and Hamill had replaced Clairlynn Roundtree, who coached the team for two years, while Roundtree initially replaced Hibbard, who had coached the Windjammers for nine seasons before stepping down after the 2002 season.

The team’s last winning season was 1999, when Hibbard led the Windjammers to a 10-6 record and the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Class B playoffs. Camden Hills defeated No. 4 Mount Desert Island 2-0 in the quarterfinals and nearly upset top-seeded George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill in the semifinals, falling 10-9.

It has been a long time since Camden Hills has competed in a quarterfinal playoff game, but Messer hopes to change that.

Messer has been the assistant coach for the Camden Hills boys basketball team this season under coach Jeff Hart, who is also the school’s baseball coach. Messer’s wife, Meredith, is also the varsity girls soccer coach at Camden Hills.

Messer is also a teacher for Lincolnville Central School, and is excited for the challenges that lie ahead for both him and the Windjammers on the diamond.

“There’s a lot of talent there so far, and I know a lot of the girls that I’ve coached in other sports,” he said. “I know they’re a great group of girls and they’re friendly, outgoing and dedicated. I’m looking forward to having a lot of fun with them, and it’s a plus that they all know me and my style. I have high expectations and like to have fun, and we’re going to set some high goals and hopefully reach them.”

Messer has an extensive coaching career, particularly at the subvarsity and middle school ranks. Messer coached the jayvee girls basketball program for eight years and coached the middle school softball team at Lincolnville Central School for five seasons. He has coached jayvee boys basketball at both Old Town and Nokomis, and also coached varsity tennis for the Coyotes for one season.

He has also been a certified softball umpire “for many years.”

“We’re happy to have Marty as part of our varsity coaching staff,” said Hughes. “He’s been a valuable member of our subvarsity coaching staff for a number of years, including eight years coaching our jayvee girls basketball team and the last two years as our volunteer [assistant] basketball coach at the varsity level with coach Hart. We’re looking forward to him taking a hold of the softball program and doing good things with it.”

Scott Buckheit will be Messer’s assistant coach, while Dwight Collins will coach the jayvee squad.

Messer said he was not even thinking about the possibility of coaching until a few of his players’ parents gave him the idea last month when he was at the Bangor Auditorium for the Eastern Class B playoffs.

“The more I thought about it, the more I thought it would be fun and be a good challenge for me,” he said. “Then I talked to Billy Hughes about it and I thought about it even more, and we interviewed and it went very well.”

Pitchers and catchers report on March 22, while tryouts begin March 29. Messer plans to have possibly a full week of tryouts.

Messer is a 1988 graduate of Hampden Academy and attended the University of Southern Maine. He and his family reside in Rockport.