Jaycie Christopher Credit: Contributed

Skowhegan Area High School’s Jaycie Christopher achieved a rare spot in Maine high school sports history on Tuesday, becoming the first player to be named both Miss Maine Softball and Miss Maine Basketball.

The recently graduated Christopher was named Miss Maine Basketball in March after leading Skowhegan to the 2022 Class A state championship, then added the Miss Maine Softball title between games of the Maine High School Softball Coaches Association all-star doubleheader at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish.

The Miss Maine Softball award has been presented to the state’s top senior in that sport since 1999, while the Miss Maine Basketball honor was first presented in similar fashion in 1988.

Christopher is proud of the dual achievements, but that personal pride stems in great part from the message it offers others who seek to follow her athletic path.

“It’s really special, being able to show younger kids that being a multi-sport athlete and being successful at both is something that’s manageable and something you can do,” she said. “I think that’s the biggest takeaway for me.”

Christopher has proven the validity of that statement through her efforts both on the basketball court and softball field.

This spring Christopher was named the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Player of the Year for the second consecutive season after batting .538 with eight doubles, four triples, two home runs and 24 runs batted in for the Skowhegan softball team.

The Skowhegan shortstop also scored 32 runs, stole 18 bases and had a .589 on-base percentage and an .877 slugging percentage while leading the 2021 state champion River Hawks to a 16-3 record and a trip back to the Class A North title game before the second-ranked River Hawks were upended by No. 9 Messalonskee of Oakland.

That followed a senior basketball season when Christopher averaged 23.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 3.5 steals per contest during the regular season and scored 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds as Skowhegan defeated Greely High School of Cumberland Center 60-46 in the Class A state final to finish their season with a 22-0 record.

Christopher was one of six finalists for the Miss Maine Softball award, along with Old Town High School pitcher-third baseman Emma Crews, Madison Area Memorial High School pitcher Brooke McKenney, Upper Kennebec Valley High School of Bingham utility player Emily Collins, Brunswick High School catcher-shortstop Kelsey Sullivan and Biddeford High School catcher Chantelle Bouchard.

“I’ve always had fun playing softball,” Christopher said. “Basketball’s my love, but to be able to accomplish this [in softball] is really a credit to my coaches and my teammates always pushing me and my family for always being there for me. It’s really special.”

Christopher’s career on the diamond began as a baseball player in Skowhegan’s Cal Ripken League from age 8 through age 12 before she made the transition to softball in middle school.

“At the end of my age-12 baseball year I played in three summer softball tournaments and the hardest adjustment at first was watching where the ball was being thrown from the pitcher,” she said. “Other than that it was pretty smooth, and just being able to play in those three tournaments really helped me going into middle school the next year.”

Christopher also switched positions after playing catcher during her Cal Ripken League years, a  concession to her love of basketball.

“When I switched over to softball I just went to shortstop because there’s less stress on your knees and when basketball’s the focus it just made more sense,” she said.

Christopher has continued to play softball despite her basketball focus, though softball has been limited largely to the spring.

“Softball for me is more of an in-season thing,” she said. “I’ll play a little bit in the summer, but for the most part it’s basketball year round and then softball during the season.”

Tuesday’s all-star game likely will be Christopher’s last foray into softball, as she is set to play basketball on scholarship at Division I Boston University in the fall.

“It’s emotional,” she said. “Softball has been really special to me. It’s always been something that was less stressful because basketball was so important to me that sometimes I put too much pressure on myself. But in softball I always found a way to have fun, and that’s something I’ve always loved. I love the atmosphere, and my teammates and coaches have always been so amazing.

“It’s bittersweet, but I’m excited for the next chapter.”

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...