The Oceanside varsity softball coaching job has been vacant since longtime leader Rusty Worcester announced his resignation toward the end of last season.

That vacancy officially was filled — and by a familiar face for Mariner athletic fans — on Thursday, Feb. 27 as athletic director Molly Bishop announced varsity football coach Wes Drinkwater had been appointed as the high school’s new softball coach.

“It’s cool,” said the 33-year-old South Thomaston resident. “I enjoy coaching and I enjoy coaching at the varsity level so it’s nice. It happened real quick and I’m just glad to be able to coach the girls.”

Drinkwater recently finished his seventh year coaching the school’s varsity football team and has coached boys basketball, baseball and softball at the middle school level, most recently the seventh-grade girls team last year.

"I had a lot of fun coaching middle school softball last year,” he said. “It was a much different aesthetic from coaching the boys and I’m interested to see how it goes.”

Drinkwater switched to softball last year primarily due to the fact his niece, Chloe, was playing softball and he did not want to miss watching her games.

And, for Drinkwater, coaching is coaching. It is in his blood.

In fact, his coaching, in many ways, is straight out of father Gene Drinkwater’s playbook. Gene spent years coaching varsity football and varsity softball at then Rockland District High School, while also coaching middle school baseball and softball at Rockland District Middle School and later at Oceanside Middle School.

And, Wes will coach at Gene Drinkwater Field, dedicated to his late father in the spring of 2018. The field is located on Thomaston Street in Rockland.

“I actually didn’t think about that until my wife mentioned it,” he said. “But that’s very cool and I’m very grateful for them to name the field after my dad. He loved coaching and that’s obviously where I get it from.”

However, stepping into the footsteps previously filled by Worcester is no unenviable task.

Worcester coached eight seasons at Oceanside and 11 prior to that at Class C Georges Valley. Worcester brought Oceanside its first state title in any sport — namely, a state Class B crown in 2013 — while he also guided the Buccaneers to back-to-back state Class C titles in 2007-08. Overall, he finished coaching with a record of 276-63.

Wes said, “Obviously you don’t want to drop the ball, but I don’t feel any pressure to go after Rusty,” who he said has “built an unreal tradition around here with softball.”

“I’ve been a varsity coach for eight years so I know the exceptions and what it takes to run a program right,” he said. “I know what I can do and what my strengths and weaknesses are, and that’s a big part of being a good coach.”

Wes said, in the short term, he hopes to get more up to speed with the ins and outs of softball pitching.

“I’ve never thrown a pitch underhand, but there are people in this town that are good at it and good at teaching it,” he said. “Surrounding yourself with good people is a big part of having a strong program.”

Ironically, Wes's father was one of the finest underhand fast-pitch men's softball pitchers in the Midcoast.

Wes said he would not mind Worcester “maybe coming the first few nights and walk me along the right path to get the girls started on.”

Wes had kept in touch with Bishop throughout the year and told her to keep him in mind if other candidates did not step forward.

Many thought longtime assistant coach Rachel Burns would be a natural fit, or assistant coach Kennadi Grover or eighth-grade softball coach Alexis Davis. But, none of the three could commit full-time for various reasons.

“I was talking to Molly throughout the year and I figured one of those three would do it,” he said. “But they’ve all had kids or can't commit for one reason or another and I’ve been keeping up on it.”

Wes said he is happy to step to the plate. At least in the short term until another worthy candidate is ready, or, perhaps, for the long haul.

“It might take me a minute out of the gate,” he said. “The pitching thing makes me a little nervous early on, but we’ll figure that out.”