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Spring Preview: Greely Rangers

Sports

Spring Preview: Greely Rangers

Greely is well-equipped for a strong spring season. Baseball is still smarting after its early ouster last year and hopes to get back to its 2007 championship form. Softball is also capable of contending in Western B. Both lacrosse teams reached the regional final a year ago. The boys were the feel-good story of the year and are out to prove that they weren't a fluke. The girls are always competitive and hoping to somehow solve longtime nemesis Waynflete. Both track teams are absolutely loaded with stellar athletes and will make a serious run at a Class B title. Boys' and girls' tennis also figure to have very strong seasons.

BASEBALL

Coach: Derek Soule (10th year)

2008 Record: 13-4 (Lost 9-2 to Yarmouth in Western Class B quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Kevin Hart (Senior), Ryan Howland (Senior), Nate Martin (Senior), Pat Copp (Senior), Sam Stauber (Senior)

Pivotal games: April 29 @ Falmouth, May 1 @ York, May 7 (H) FALMOUTH, May 11 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 19 @ Yarmouth, May 29 (H) YARMOUTH, June 3 @ Cape Elizabeth

Coach's comment: "It could be a tough year for the Rangers after graduating 11 seniors. We have a lot of new faces, with only three starters returning."

The Forecaster's forecast: The Rangers were hit very hard by graduation, but the cupboard isn't quite as bare as Soule would like you to believe. Leading the way is the dynamic Martin, who was 26-for-26 in stolen bases and hit .481 with two homers and 14 RBI a year ago en route to a second straight all-star mention. He had two hits in a season-opening 13-5 victory at Sacopee last week. In that one, Stauber, this year's staff ace, earned the win with four strong innings. Stauber was 3-0 with a 2.45 earned run average in 2008. He'll also play shortstop. Other pitching prospects include Copp, juniors Dan O'Brion, Ben Russell and Jacob Whiting-Kooy, and sophomore Matt Labbe. Copp (a second-team all-star after hitting .364 with 22 RBI last season) is at first. Hart (Greely's Winter Male Athlete of the Year) is recovered from his back injury and will play third. Labbe steps in shortstop. Senior Leo Paquette will play second. Junior Luke Booth joins Martin in the outfield. Several other strong athletes are on the roster, including some who have won state titles in other sports such as soccer and hockey. The Rangers don't have the overwhelming pitching edge they've had in past seasons, but the arms they do have will suffice and the offense figures to be productive. Greely is always well-coached and gets the most from everyone on the roster. While Cape Elizabeth is the favorite for a reason and teams like Falmouth, Yarmouth and York have to like their chances, the Rangers will have a big say in determining the champion in June.

Fun fact: In the past decade, Greely has lost in the quarterfinals just twice: 2002 and last year. On both occasions, Yarmouth sent the Rangers home.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Mike Robb (second year)

2008 Record: 10-7 (Lost 5-1 to Gray-New Gloucester in Western Class B quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Esther Aromando (Senior), Isabelle Pisini (Senior), Victoria Pisini (Senior), Kayla Sampson (Senior), Mary Zambello (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 24 @ Lake Region, April 27 (H) FRYEBURG, April 29 @ Falmouth, May 4 (H) WELLS, May 7 (H) FALMOUTH, May 11 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 13 @ Gray-New Gloucester, May 19 @ Yarmouth, May 29 (H) YARMOUTH, June 3 @ Cape Elizabeth

Coach's comment: "We graduated six seniors from the 2008 lineup, but reload is our password this season. There are some opportunities for new players to step in. We have a great mix of veterans and strong balance. The girls really love the game, understand teamwork and that they're part of something bigger than themselves. The girls are working on their goal setting and I'm sure they'll continue to progress. Peaking for the playoffs is the aim as well as a fantastic finish for our seniors."

The Forecaster's forecast: The Rangers aren't generally mentioned with the favorites: defending state champion Fryeburg and 2007 champ Cape Elizabeth, but by year's end, Greely could be right there with those teams. Robb is now in his second year and likes the fact he has a nice breakdown of each class. Pitching is always the focal point in this sport and the Rangers are in good hands with Zambello, who saw limited time behind Krissey Taplin last year. Zambello had an ERA of 1.40 in six outings. Sophomore Michaela Finnegan adds depth on the hill. The offense is led by Isabelle Pisini, who hit .309 with a whopping five home runs and 19 RBI en route to a first-team all-star mention last year. Pisini got her 2009 campaign off to a rousing start with a pair of doubles in a season-opening 10-3 win at Sacopee last week. Victoria Pisini, Sampson and junior Erica Kahn also had two hits, while Zambello earned the win on the hill. Aramondo and Zambello (a second-team all-star in 2008) are other hitters to watch. Several juniors: Michelle Arsenault, Karlee Biskup, Bryce McEwen, Emily Norton and Marika Stayte, will also be heard from, as will freshmen Caroline Hamilton, Emma Seymour and Katie Whittum, the stars of the future. Zambello and Finnegan will hope to continue Greely's tradition of stellar hurling. If they're up to the task and if Isabelle Pisini has some help producing offense, the Rangers will be a formidable foe. Greely might not be getting a lot of attention in April, but it will by June.

Fun fact: Greely has posted a winning record for 10 straight years, averaging over 13 victories in that span.

BOYS LACROSSE

Coach: Casey Abbott (second year)

2008 Record: 12-2 (Lost 11-5 to Cape Elizabeth in Western Class B Final)

Top returning players: Dylan Beckelman (Senior), Jackson Burrell (Senior), Steve Chase (Senior), Chet Jordan (Senior), Peter Stuart (Senior), Sean Mullin (Junior), Teddy Russell (Junior), Sam Thompson (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 28 (H) PORTLAND, April 30 (H) YARMOUTH, May 2 @ Kennebunk, May 20 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 26 @ NYA, May 29 (H) FALMOUTH

Coach's comment: "We have some talented players returning this year who were a bit overshadowed last year. I'm looking for those guys to have breakout seasons. We're coming off a great year. We're working to develop consistency this year. We want to give the top teams in the conference a fight year in and year out. I think our more challenging schedule will contribute to a few more losses in the regular season, but I think in the end, we will be much more prepared for the playoffs."

The Forecaster's forecast: Greely enjoyed a storybook 2008 campaign, beating Cape Elizabeth for the first time en route to an 11-1 regular season, which tied the 2001 squad for best in program annals. The Rangers' run eventually ended at the hands of the Capers in the regional final, but their season was nothing short of an unmitigated success. Now, Greely faces the encore after losing some stars to graduation and being dealt a daunting schedule. Abbott (last year's Maine and Forecaster Coach of the Year) feels that he, his coaching staff (Cotey Green and Dave Beckelman) and the players are up to the task. Dylan Beckelman is the top returning scorer. He had 23 goals and seven assists, along with 57 ground balls in 2008. Chase (10 goals and four assists), Jordan (five goals, two assists), and Russell (13 goals, 15 assists, 56 ground balls), who will also handle faceoffs, will all look to fill the net. Midfielder Austin Spencer, along with three new freshmen: Cooper Allen, Nick Robinson and Paul Witte provide depth on offense. Burrell is the rock on defense. He had 42 ground balls last season, but more importantly, is a four-year varsity player who has been through the battles. Longstick middie Mullin (19 ground balls), Stuart (21 ground balls) and junior Chris Dilisio are other defensive players to watch. Thompson returns in goal. He's a standout athlete who's been involved in many big games. He'll be supported by freshman Griffen Demick. A strong youth program is beginning to pay dividends. Greely has returned to the point where it should contend every season. While it's unlikely the Rangers will enjoy the fairy tale run they did a year ago, they'll once again make their share of headlines and be a very dangerous squad when the playoffs arrive.

Fun fact: Last year's six-win improvement from the previous season was the best one-year climb in program history.

GIRLS LACROSSE

Coach: Peter Wiles (15th year)

2008 Record: 6-8 (Lost 16-5 to Waynflete in Western Class B semifinals)

Top returning players: Brittany Ames (Senior), Beth Anderson (Senior), Melanie Howland (Junior), Perrin Reed (Junior), Kylie Ross (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 28 @ Scarborough, May 1 @ Kennebunk, May 7 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 11 @ Waynflete, May 15 (H) CHEVERUS, May 19 @ NYA, May 21 (H) YARMOUTH, May 29 @ Falmouth

Coach's comment: "We only have six kids back. It's a relatively young team. We have some speed. I think we'll be competitive, but we have some building to do."

The Forecaster's forecast: Greely saved its best for last in 2008, upsetting Falmouth behind Kate Otley's wizardry to make it to the regional final for the first time in five years. There, the Rangers' run ended at the hands of nemesis Waynflete for the fifth time in six seasons. Greely lost a lot of firepower to graduation, but this program is always strong and 2009 should be no exception. The Rangers have plenty of speed and athleticism. Ames will handle draw controls and is also a potential top scorer along with Howland, Reed and Ross. Anderson anchors the defense with help from Ross. Last year's JV goalie, junior Hannah Dexter, is stepping into the varsity role this season. Several other unproven players will get a chance to shine and expect some of them to slowly become familiar to the casual fan. Greely is in a new scheduling tier this spring and faces several very tough games. The closing stretch is manageable, however. If the Rangers can put it together as they go along, they should win their share of games and be a force in the playoffs. This team always seems to find a way to be one of the last ones standing.

Fun fact: Last year was Greely's first losing season since 2002, but the Rangers made the regional final for the third time in nine years.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: John Folan (15th year)

2008 Results:
(Boys) 3rd @ Class B State Meet
(Girls) 2nd @ Class B State Meet

Top returning athletes:
(Boys) Andy Fitch (Senior), Andrew Jordan (Senior), James LePage (Senior), Nick Stewart (Senior), Ryan Storey (Senior), Chris Young (Senior), Alex Cameron (Junior), Mark McCauley (Junior), Logan Price (Junior)
(Girls) Anna Boots (Senior), Hillary Cederna (Senior), Leanne Dolat (Senior), Lili Grieves (Senior), Liza LePage (Senior), Jessa Steinman (Senior), Michaela Campbell (Junior), Abby Diehl (Junior), Anna Maine (Junior), Julia Roy (Junior), Hannah Werneth (Junior), Abby Young (Junior), Emily Christensen (Sophomore), Meaghan Crowley (Sophomore), Katherine Harrington (Sophomore), Anna Whitaker (Sophomore)

Top foes: Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, York

Coach's comment: "Our boys certainly hope for a top finish in the state and continued improvement. We will not be a really good regular season team, but in the varied championships we can show much better. Our distance crew is one of the best in the state. Jumps will be solid. The girls hope to be in the top five, the higher the finish, the better. The graduation of Becky O'Brien is an instant loss of 30 state meet points. That notwithstanding, this may be our most balanced and experienced outdoor team in a number of years. Pretty much all the disciplines are covered by experienced athletes or athletes with a lot of potential."

The Forecaster's forecast: Greely has so many potential track standouts it's difficult to know where to begin.

The boys' team should enjoy a strong regular season and will make a run at the top at states. The Rangers return several scorers from a year ago, including all four members of its state champion 4x800 relay team (LePage, Fitch, Price and McCauley), who will spearhead a dominant distance contingent that also includes Jordan and newcomer Stefan Sandreuter (who also competes in the pole vault). Storey was third in the high jump last season. He, along with Young and new sophomore Tanner Storey, will be in the mix again. Storey also throws the javelin. Cameron and Stewart are other throwers to watch. Greely is lacking in the sprints and hurdles, but with several members of the indoor state championship team on this squad, the Rangers are well equipped to be a serious contender between now and June 6.

On the girls' side, Greely has been stewing for nearly a year after losing out on the state title by a mere 1.5 points to Waterville last June. This season, the Rangers aim to rectify that slight. The loss of O'Brien will be immense, however. Now at the University of North Carolina, Greely's multiple athlete of the year was one of those unique, transcendent athletes that comes around once in a generation. But even without O'Brien, the Rangers have ample firepower. Diehl is the reigning outdoor champ (and state record holder) in the 300 hurdles. Cederna (last spring's 200 champion) is one of the best athletes around and will look to score in the sprints. LePage and Steinman were part of a relay state champion. Harrington came in fifth in the discus last season. Werneth was seventh in the shot put. Both will look to move up and make up for some of O'Brien's lost points in the throws. Campbell, Dolat, Grieves, Harrington, Whitaker and new senior Aimee Burgess (sixth in the shot put indoors) could also help in that endeavor. Crowley and Young are top jumpers. Freshman Abby Bonnevie is competing in the pole vault. Along with Cederna, the sprints feature Christensen, Roy and four newcomers: junior Taylor Hicks, sophomore Elizabeth Morrone and freshmen Emily Curato and Julia Maine. Steinman is the top middle-distance runner. The distance group includes Boots, LePage, Anna Maine, new seniors Tess Carley and Allison Hall, and freshman Melissa Jacques. There's obviously a ton of potential on this roster, the only question is will be it enough to fend off some tough conference competition and be better than Waterville come June? The Rangers certainly have to like their chances.

BOYS TENNIS

Coach: Bert Kendall (fourth year)

2008 Results: 7-7 (Lost 4-1 to Yarmouth in Western Class B semifinals)

Top returning players: Brian Allyn (Senior), Tom Dillman (Senior), Jake Downey (Senior), Henry Schmid (Senior), Jesse Shavel (Senior), Mike Staples (Senior), Alex Thomas (Senior), Stephen Hayes (Junior), Will Hemond (Junior)

Pivotal matches: April 27 @ Yarmouth, May 11 (H) WAYNFLETE, May 13 @ Falmouth, May 18 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 27 (H) YARMOUTH

Coach's comment: "Last year we started well then ran into some academic problems. If we can keep our team intact, we should improve. We want to do well in dual matches with our rivals. We're looking forward to an exciting season and hope our senior athletes can carry us along."

The Forecaster's forecast: Greely could be a dark horse this season in Western Class B. The Rangers made an exciting run to the semifinals a year ago and return several top players. Greely got its 2009 campaign off on the right foot last week with a 5-0 win against Freeport. Dillman is in the first singles spot. He's one of the most talented players in the league and won his first match in straight sets. Downey will play second singles. He also won easily in his opener. Hayes will play third singles. He won 6-0, 6-1 against Freeport. All three figure to be up to the many challenges they'll face in the regular year. The first doubles team will include Shavel for sure, possibly teamed with Hemond, Schmid, Staples or junior Stephen Proux. The No. 2 doubles squad consists of Allyn and Thomas. Juniors Nick Aalberg and Ben Marchese, sophomores Peter Bailinson and Bobby Dorr, and new sophomore Sam Mason (over from track) add depth. Several players on the squad have won state titles in other sports. Allyn, Downey and Shavel are coming off a state championship in hockey. That winning pedigree combined with last year's strong finish and a lot of promise on the roster should lead to a memorable campaign.

GIRLS TENNIS

Coach: Devi Maganti (12th year)

2008 Results: 8-6 (Lost 3-2 to Falmouth in Western Class B semifinals)

Top returning players: Haley Chandler (Senior), Eliza Williams (Senior), Leah Churchill (Junior), Becca Otley (Junior), Chelsea Pine (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: April 27 (H) YARMOUTH, April 29 @ York, May 1 @ NYA, May 11 @ Waynflete, May 13 (H) FALMOUTH, May 18 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 27 @ Yarmouth

Coach's comment: "We lost our No. 1 and 2 singles and a first doubles player. I don't know what we're going to have. We'll probably end up somewhere in the middle. Maybe we'll surprise some people."

The Forecaster's forecast: Greely has been a solid contender the past several seasons, but has had no answers for powerhouse Falmouth each of the past three years in the playoffs. After graduating some top talent, the Rangers are reloading, but there is a foundation to build on and three newcomers will make an immediate impact. Williams moves up from the No. 3 spot to play first singles. Chandler and Otley will also hold singles positions. Churchill returns to play doubles and will be joined by one of the newcomers: junior Marissa Goding, freshman Marina Goding or freshman Libby Thomas. Greely might have some trouble against the best teams in the league, but should still be able to produce a solid record by year's end. By playoff time, the Rangers will be back in their familiar spot as contenders.

Photo:
Senior Pat Copp is a pitching and first base standout for Greely. (File photo)

Photo:
Senior Esther Aromondo figures to be one of Greely's best hitters this spring. (File photo)

Photo:
Greely's boys' lacrosse team had a lot to celebrate last year, including an overtime win over Falmouth in the regional semifinals. The Rangers are hoping for more big things in 2009. (File photo)

Photo:
Abby Diehl set a record in the 300 hurdles last spring and should be just as formidable this season. (File photo)