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Spring Preview: Cape Elizabeth Capers

Sports

Spring Preview: Cape Elizabeth Capers

The spring of 2009 should be memorable for fans of Cape Elizabeth athletics. Baseball reached the state final in stunning fashion last year and is widely expected to make it back there this time around. Softball has been a top contender for several seasons and is on the short list of favorites. Boys' lacrosse fell in the state game in 2008 and is looking to return to the pinnacle in June. The girls' team made nice strides a year ago and is hoping for even more. Both track teams have speed, strength and depth. Boys' tennis could be in for another title run, while the girls' squad will be a top contender as well.

BASEBALL

Coach: Chris Hayward (third year)

2008 Record: 13-8 (Lost 10-0, in five innings, to Gardiner in Class B Final)

Top returning players: Ryan Boyington (Senior), Zach Breed (Senior), Andrew Guay (Senior), Matt Rand (Senior), Conor Moloney (Junior), Will Pierce (Junior), Kyle Piscopo (Junior), Sam St. Germain (Junior), Ezra Wolfinger (Junior)

Pivotal games: May 11 @ Greely, May 13 @ Yarmouth, May 18 @ York, May 27 @ Falmouth, May 29 (H) YORK, June 3 (H) GREELY

Coach's comment: "Between our run from the No. 9 seed last season and the experience of not winning the Junior Legion title from the No.1 seed, I hope the kids realize that seeds are unimportant. Underdogs can and do win. We have to remain focused and committed to improving every day. If we can score runs, we'll be competitive. A lot of that will come from work ethic and concentration in practice."

The Forecaster's forecast: The Capers figure to build on last year's stirring playoff run and have gotten off to a great start in 2009. Last week, Cape Elizabeth opened with an 8-1 home victory over Falmouth as Guay and Moloney excelled on the mound while Piscopo, Pierce, junior Tanner Garrity and sophomore Rob MacDonald had key hits. Hayward has a nice blend of experience and newcomers this spring and this squad appears to have all the ingredients for another deep run. Guay (a second-team league and an Underclass all-star in 2008) is coming off a 6-3 campaign on the mound, which included playoff wins against Lisbon and Lincoln Academy. He also hit .354 with a home run and 20 RBI. Guay, Moloney (2-0) and Boyington (5-4) anchor the pitching staff. Garrity and sophomore Cam Brown will also see time on the mound. Offensively, Cape Elizabeth has already demonstrated it has many weapons. Guay is joined by Breed (the leadoff hitter, who stole 18 bases, scored 25 runs and hit .400 in the second half of the season last spring), Boyington (.293, 19 RBI), Pierce (.316, 12 steals), Piscopo (.286), Garrity and MacDonald to make for a fearsome attack. Defensively, the Capers are sound. Wolfinger catches. Pierce and sophomore Kyle Danielson will see time at first base. Piscopo is at second, Rand plays shortstop and St. Germain is at third. Breed is the lead outfielder. He'll be joined by Danielson and MacDonald. Garrity can play anywhere. Brown will also see time at short. Cape Elizabeth is the favorite in Western B for a reason. If the Capers can stay healthy and hungry, they have a great shot at getting back to the state game and finishing the job they started a year ago.

Fun fact: Last season marked the 14th time the Capers have played for the state title. Their record is now 10-4 in that game.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Joe Henrikson (12th year)

2008 Record: 17-2 (Lost 1-0 to Fryeburg in Western Class B Final)

Top returning players: Colleen Martin (Senior), Emily Richardson (Senior), Grace Stack (Senior), Tricia Thibodeau (Senior), Gabe Donahue (Junior), Delaney Rockwell (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 29 (H) GRAY-NG, May 6 (H) LAKE REGION, May 8 (H) WELLS, May 11 @ Greely, May 13 @ Yarmouth, May 25 (H) FRYEBURG, May 27 @ Falmouth, June 1 @ Wells, June 3 (H) GREELY

Coach's comment: "We're going to face the same situation we did last year. We have to find a way to beat Hannah. We have a great pitcher of our own. We can't anyone else for granted. I think we'll be in the top three."

The Forecaster's forecast: The only standing between Cape Elizabeth and its chance to defend its state title last season was Fryeburg ace Hannah Hill. Unfortunately for the Capers, Hill returns this year before heading off to Seton Hall and they'll have to find a way to score against her to get back to the top. Luckily for Cape Elizabeth, it has a pretty impressive team of its own. Thibodeau is back on the hill again. The school's reigning Spring Female Athlete of the Year has been one of the best hurlers around and got her 2009 campaign off to a strong start last week with a 7-0, four-hit, 12-strikeout victory over Falmouth. She also drove in three runs. Thibodeau (a first-team all-star in 2008) was 17-2 last year with a 0.37 ERA and hit .347. She and Martin (another reigning first-team all-star) make up the most potent battery around. Martin batted .422 with 21 RBI last season and is a home run threat every time she strides into a pitch. Richardson sets the table for the offense. The second-team all-star shortstop batted .379 with 21 runs scored in 2008. Donahue, Rockwell (a second-team all-star last year) and Stack (two hits in the opener), along with junior Abby Flynn and sophomores Emily Donovan (game-winning RBI versus Falmouth) and Lauren Nicholson will also be formidable at the plate. The Capers have learned how to win and expect to triumph every time they take field. The victories and offense will come in abundance this spring, the question will be can Cape Elizabeth hit and score against an elite pitcher? The Capers host Fryeburg May 25 and will likely see the Raiders again in June. This group didn't like falling short a year ago. Even though Hill is a standout, she'll have a tough team denying Cape Elizabeth two seasons in a row.

Fun fact: The Capers are in the midst of the finest era in team history. Over the past four seasons, they've gone 65-13, won two regional titles, one state championship and lost by a run in the regional final on two other occasions.

BOYS LACROSSE

Coach: Ben Raymond (12th year)

2008 Record: 10-5 (Lost 9-4 to Yarmouth in Class B Final)

Top returning players: Sether Hansen (Senior), Mike Holden (Senior), Peter Kane (Senior), Ben Lydon (Senior), Jon O'Hearn (Senior), Alex Pillsbury (Senior), Cam Smith (Senior), Ben Brewster (Junior), Will Desena (Junior), Tom Foden (Junior), Harper Nelson (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 27 @ Yarmouth, May 6 (H) FALMOUTH, May 13 @ NYA, May 16 (H) PORTLAND, May 20 (H) GREELY, May 28 (H) CHEVERUS, May 30 (H) SCARBOROUGH, June 1 @ Kennebunk

Coach's comment: "The goal this season is to win the state championship. There are many other smaller goals along the way, but that is the major goal for this team. The expectation is that the players will show up and compete hard every day whether it's a practice or a game."

The Forecaster's forecast: Cape Elizabeth's tradition-rich boys' lacrosse program measures its success in championships won. Period. The Capers have now gone a long three years and are starting a fourth without a title, which explains their singular focus this spring. Their goal of winning the crown is realistic. As always, Cape Elizabeth is loaded with talent. Not many teams can boast a returning All-American, but the Capers can in Holden, who is one of the most formidable attackmen in the state. He's joined on attack by Foden and Pillsbury. Cape Elizabeth has an abundance of strong midfielders. The returning group includes Desena, Lydon, Nelson, O'Hearn and Smith (the team's faceoff specialist). New seniors Sean Eubanks, Amory Houghton and Matt Weiss, along with freshman Tim Lavallee, bring depth to that position. On defense, Brewster (long stick middie), Hansen, Kane and senior Conor Lawler will help sophomore goalie Jack Roos' transition to being the full-time starter. Cape Elizabeth only scored 10 goals total in its three losses to Yarmouth last year. The Capers will get a quick crack at revenge when they open at the Clippers Monday night. The teams won't meet again unless they square off in the state game June 20. If Cape Elizabeth can produce as expected and stay hungry, it should be at Fitzpatrick Stadium that afternoon. The Capers have to navigate a tough schedule, but this team is ready and eager to return to the top. Don't bet against it.

Fun fact: Cape Elizabeth has lost three times in the state final in the MPA-sanctioned era. After the prior two losses (2001 and 2004), the Capers bounced back and won the state title the following year.

GIRLS LACROSSE

Coach: Kurt Chapin (second year)

2008 Record: 7-7 (Lost 11-1 to Waynflete in Western Class B semifinals)

Top returning players: Nora Daly (Senior), Maggie Darling (Senior), Katie Mowles (Senior), Rosie Wennberg (Senior), Maddie Spagnola (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 29 (H) KENNEBUNK, May 8 @ Greely, May 11 @ NYA, May 12 (H) CHEVERUS, May 19 (H) YARMOUTH, May 21 (H) WAYNFLETE, May 26 @ Falmouth, June 3 (H) SCARBOROUGH

Coach's comment: "We don't have any superstars this year, but we have the most balanced team we've had in the past six years. A very young defense will have to mature through the season. Our midfield and attack is a good mix of speed and skilled players. We're setting short term goals and will keep our focus on the next game."

The Forecaster's forecast: Cape Elizabeth advanced to the semifinals and gave eventual state champion Waynflete fits at times in that contest. The Capers hope to build on their finish and should be very competitive in 2009. They'll need to be as they play a much more difficult schedule than in years past. The offense should do its share of damage. Daly (21 goals, three assists and a second-team all-star mention in 2008), Darling (who only saw limited time last year because of injury) and Wennberg (14 goals, 10 assists) can all produce. Sophomore Anna Darling, a starter as a freshman, should play a larger role in the offense as well. Wennberg and Daly will both see time in the faceoff circle. Spagnola is the anchor to the defense and will be aided by sophomore Paris Bethel, who came up to the varsity team last year in time for playoffs. Mowles returns in goal. Cape Elizabeth has had little trouble scoring in recent seasons, but it has struggled slowing down the attack of its talented foes. This year, the Capers look to be more stingy on the defensive end, while continuing to put up goals. Cape Elizabeth has athletes, skill and hunger and could wind up being Waynflete's biggest threat in Western B when all is said and done.

Fun fact: Last year's trip to the semifinals was Cape Elizabeth fourth in the past six years. The Capers have yet to advance to the regional finals in the MPA-sanctioned era.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: Doug Worthley (13th year)

2008 Results:
(Boys) no score @ Class B State Meet
(Girls) 4th @ Class B State Meet

TOP RETURNING ATHLETES:
(Boys) Jon Bass (Senior), Brenden Shields (Junior)
(Girls), Emma Hockmuth (Senior), Marita Stressenger (Senior), Emily Attwood (Junior), Kelsey Barton (Sophomore), Skyler Dunfey (Sophomore), Rachel Nichols (Sophomore)

Top foes: Falmouth, Greely, York

Coach's comment: "We'll look to hold our own. We have a lot of young kids. We're looking for kids to step in and fill all the events. If the boys are in the top 10, I'd be happy. The girls should place in the top six at states."

The Forecaster's forecast: Both Cape Elizabeth teams boast solid athletes this season.

While the boys failed to score last year, they did so indoors and this year's squad features some potential stars. Bass will run hurdles and pole vault (he was sixth in the latter event indoors). Shields will be a jumper and sprinter to watch. New senior Nick Martin (throws) and new sophomore Ryan Ayres (jumps) could also be factors. The Capers will score their share of points in the regular season and should be heard from in the postseason this spring.

On the girls' side, Cape Elizabeth has as solid a distant contingent as anyone. Winter Female Athlete of the Year Stressenger, runner-up in the 800 and mile last spring and state champion in the mile indoors, is joined by Attwood, Barton and Nichols. That group will excel individually and in the relays. Hockmuth was third in the pole vault last year. She'll look to soar to the top this time around. Dunfey competes in the hurdles and jumps. New junior Megan Winker will look to contend in the throws. The Capers lack the depth of Falmouth and Greely, but the distance runners will provide a lot of points. Come June, look for Cape Elizabeth to enjoy another top 10 finish at the state meet.

BOYS TENNIS

Coach: Andy Strout (31st year)

2008 Results: 9-5 (Lost 4-1 to Falmouth in Western Class B semifinals)

Top returning players: Chris Flathers (Senior), Graham Nichols (Senior), Mike Takach (Senior), Calvin Alden (Junior), Bailie Dittrich (Junior), John Tranfaglia (Junior), Ben Morse (Sophomore), Ross Sherman (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: May 4 @ Waynflete, May 8 @ Yarmouth, May 18 @ Greely, May 26 @ Falmouth

Coach's comment: "We have plenty of depth and experienced singles players. We only lost one to graduation. We should be in the thick of it in the end."

The Forecaster's forecast: After being in Falmouth's shadow the past three seasons, the Capers are once again right in the hunt for the top spot, as evidenced by their season-opening 3-2 home victory over the Yachtsmen last week. Cape Elizabeth has a stable of experienced talent that is hungry to make a mark. Sherman (second singles) and Takach (third singles) both were victorious on Opening Day. The pairing of Nichols and sophomore Sean Donegan also earned a point. Flathers (a first-team all-star last year) will be in the first singles spot. Alden and Morse project to play first doubles. Dittrich and Tranfaglia provide depth. Yarmouth has grabbed the role of favorite this spring, but the Capers should be right there with the Clippers. After four years away from the pinnacle, Cape Elizabeth is hungry and capable of returning.

GIRLS TENNIS

Coach: Andy Strout (14th year)

2008 Results: 9-6 (Lost 4-1 to Falmouth in Western Class B Final)

Top returning players: Caitlin Pomeroy (Senior), Katie Takach (Senior), Bridget Walsh (Senior), Jenni Hewes (Junior)

Pivotal matches: April 27 (H) NYA, May 4 (H) WAYNFLETE, May 8 (H) YARMOUTH, May 11 @ York, May 18 (H) GREELY, May 26 (H) FALMOUTH

Coach's comment: "We have three solid singles players with experience. If we can put together a couple solid doubles teams, we should have a solid season."

The Forecaster's forecast: Cape Elizabeth has been eliminated by Falmouth in three of the past four seasons and this spring, the Capers, on paper at least, will be behind the Yachtsmen in the projections. Cape Elizabeth suffered a 4-1 loss at Falmouth to start to year. Hewes, at third singles, scored the lone point. Takach (a second-team all-star a year ago), Walsh and Pomeroy will see time at singles as the season progresses. New senior Elsa Mullin, junior Kristen Kerney and sophomore Paige Kozlowski will provide an infusion of talent. While the Yachtsmen appear to be the class of the league, the Capers are right there atop the next group. Cape Elizabeth will be solid in singles play from start to finish. If the doubles teams can get up to speed and contend, the Capers will be very dangerous by June.

Photo:
Senior Ryan Boyington is hoping to lead Cape Elizabeth back to the Class B state game this spring. (File photo)

Photo:
Senior ace Trish Thibodeau is one of the elite pitchers in the state. (File photo)

Photo:
Cape Elizabeth's boys' lacrosse hopes are bolstered by the return of senior All-American Mike Holden. (File photo)

Photo:
Senior Emma Hockmuth is hoping to build on last year's third place state finish in the pole vault.  (File photo)