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Yarmouth Clippers Spring Sports Preview

Sports

Yarmouth Clippers Spring Sports Preview

Yarmouth won a pair of championships last spring and looks to equal or exceed that total this spring. Baseball has the potential to be one of the best teams in the conference. Softball is hoping to leapfrog into the upper echelon of contenders. Boys' lacrosse has no equal and is seeking a three-peat. The girls' team has its sights set on beating rival NYA and getting back to the state game. The track program is low on numbers, but features some very promising athletes. The boys' tennis team won its first Class B crown a year ago and would love to repeat. The girls' squad is always in the running and will be a tough foe.

BASEBALL

Coach: Marc Halsted (fourth year)

2009 Record: 9-9 (Lost 8-7 to Mountain Valley in Western Class B quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Jeff Kuklewicz (Senior), Travis Merrill (Senior), Nick Whittaker (Senior), Campbell Belisle-Haley (Junior), Dustin McCrossin (Junior), Luke Pierce (Junior), Aidan Sullivan (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 24 (H) LAKE REGION, May 11 @ York, May 12 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 14 (H) FALMOUTH, May 18 @ Greely, May 19 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 26 @ Falmouth, May 28 (H) GREELY, June 2 (H) NYA

Coach's comment: “I expect this to be a very competitive league from top to bottom this spring. We don't have the big names this year, but we do have depth. We have five guys competing for three outfield jobs right now and we have multiple guys pushing for playing time. I'm confident we'll be strong up the middle. Overall, we expect to push for a playoff spot. We hope our rise continues. Yarmouth baseball is certainly growing and evolving and the kids are fired up to get the season started.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Yarmouth has now made the playoffs four years running and this year could be one of the very best teams in Western B. The Clippers have all the ingredients for success, starting with an ace on the mound in Whittaker, who went 5-2 with a 3.10 earned run average and 47 strikeouts a year ago. Whittaker got the 2010 season off to a positive start last week by beating Fryeburg, 10-0, in five innings, allowing just two hits. If that wasn't enough, Whittaker also had three hits, as did Pierce, while Sullivan had a pair. In addition to Whittaker, Belisle-Haley (2-0, 2.33 ERA, 20 strikeouts in 2009) will see a good chunk of time on the hill. Junior Nick Proscia moves behind the plate. Yarmouth is solid up the middle with its battery, a middle infield group that includes Pierce, Merrill and juniors Davis Brown and Joey King,as well as Kuklewicz in centerfield. Kuklewicz is the leadoff hitter. He had a .459 on-base percentage in 2009 and scored 20 runs. Merrill hit .302 a year ago and has pop. Pierce (.333, seven extra base hits, 15 RBI a year ago), McCrossin (.351 in 2009) and Sullivan (.270 last year, when he was named to the Western Maine Conference second-team) will all be formidable at the dish. The Clippers are no longer content just to be in the mix. In a year devoid of a big-time favorite, the door is open for Yarmouth to post a very good record and go deep in the playoffs. The Clippers have yet to play in a regional final since moving up to Class B. That could easily change this June.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Jim Senecal (sixth year)

2009 Record: 5-11 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Alyssa Brown (Senior), Morgan Ruetty (Senior), Julie Dursema (Junior), Abbie Hutchinson (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 26 (H) LAKE REGION, May 5 @ Gray-NG, May 11 @ York, May 12 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 14 (H) FALMOUTH, May 18 @ Greely, May 26 @ Falmouth, May 28 (H) GREELY

Coach's comment: “Our pitching has improved dramatically from last season. If Abbie stays healthy and continues to gain poise and confidence, she has a chance to be one of the top pitchers in the league this year. Offensively, our top hitters from last season all season all seem to have improved and we've added some new kids to the lineup that look very good as well. We definitely need to improve our run production as teams will score more runs this year with the mound moving back three feet. Defensively, we look solid with returning starters at most of the key positions. We believe we can return to the playoffs, but we know it won't be easy. I'm excited about our season and can't wait to get started.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Yarmouth fell short of the playoffs a year ago, but could be a dark horse in 2010. The Clippers opened last week with a 7-2 home loss to two-time defending state champion Fryeburg. The bright spot was Dursema, who had three hits. She's one of the better catchers in the region and led the team in RBI a year ago. Hutchinson is the lead pitcher. She's not only adept on the mound, but can also swing the bat (leading the team with a .372 average, as well as on-base percentage and hits in 2009). She was a second-team all-star. Hutchinson will get help on the mound from promising freshman McKenzie Gray and former junior varsity player Laura Klepinger. Other players to watch include first baseman Ruetty, who hit .350 and is solid on defense, centerfielder Brown, a good athlete with great range and a strong arm, who can hit with power, and sophomore second baseman Suzanne Driscoll, who is expected to be an anchor on the middle of the infield. Fryeburg and Cape Elizabeth have come back to the pack and while Gray-New Gloucester's the favorite this spring, the field is very wide open. If Yarmouth can come together as hoped, the Clippers have a great shot to post a winning record and get back to the postseason. This will be a team that will produce plenty of highlights as the season progresses.

BOYS' LACROSSE

Coach: Craig Curry (seventh year)

2009 Record: 15-0 (Defeated Cape Elizabeth 12-9 to win Class B state championship)

Top returning players: David Dietz (Senior), Ebrahim Fazeli (Senior), Evan Henry (Senior), Mike Johnson (Senior), A.J. Oliver (Senior), Steven Petrovek (Senior), Adam Sampson (Senior), Colby Shields (Senior), Brodie Woodson (Senior), Cam Woodworth (Senior)

Pivotal games: April 30 @ Falmouth, May 3 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 8 (H) BRUNSWICK, May 15 @ Cheverus, May 18 @ NYA, May 21 (H) FALMOUTH, May 28 @ Cape Elizabeth

Coach's comment: “We have every opportunity to compete with anyone. It's a matter of how well we come together as a group. It will be more of a challenge this year than in the past. Clearly, we've got the kids. Success in May and June begins in April. The boys understand that the challenge is out there. Our strength is that our kids have been there and know how to work hard.”

The Forecaster's forecast: The ever-dominant Yarmouth program managed a first in 2009, going back-to-back and winning a championship in an odd-numbered season for the first time. The Clippers graduated 12 seniors, including All-American Rob Highland and three league all-stars, Peter Erickson, Chad Lorenz and Leo Oliva. This time around, Yarmouth won't have its way with everyone, but this is still a very, very good team that should be championship-worthy by June. The Clippers are fortunate to return one of the top goalies in the state in Woodworth, who made the Western Maine Conference first team last year. Defensively, Fazeli, Oliver, Sampson and Woodson will be tough to contend with. Dietz handles faceoffs and along with Shields (a groundball specialist) are anchors at midfield. While Yarmouth graduated a good chunk of its offensive production, the Clippers still have plenty of goals in reserve. Leading the way will be Petrovek, who was an All-American a year ago. Henry (a second-team all-star in 2009) and Johnson are also capable of doing damage. Yarmouth probably won't be as prolific as it was a year ago when it averaged over 15 goals a contest, but the Clippers will be able to get by with its defense and goalkeeping and will certainly score its share. Friday night, Yarmouth opened with an 11-5 home win over NYA in a game which was decided by halftime (the Clippers led, 7-1). Petrovek led the way in that one with three goals. The Panthers will only get better, while Yarmouth also has to deal with perennial power and rival Cape Elizabeth and rising threat Falmouth twice each, along with defending Eastern A champion Brunswick. The Clippers will find themselves in closer games and might stumble at some point, but by season's end, it's hard to imagine Yarmouth won't be back in the state game, looking to make it three in a row.

GIRLS' LACROSSE

Coach: Dorothy Holt (sixth year)

2009 Record: 11-3 (Lost 10-7 to NYA in Eastern Class B Final)

Top returning players: Brenna Bialek (Senior), Molly Curry (Senior), Becca Bell (Junior), Kate Dilworth (Junior), Natalie Salmon (Junior), Devin Simsarian (Junior), Danielle Torres (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 28 (H) NYA, May 3 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 6 @ Waynflete, May 8 (H) SCARBOROUGH, May 19 @ NYA, May 22 (H) FALMOUTH, May 24 (H) WAYNFLETE

Coach's comment: “We're young this year, mostly sophomores and juniors. It's a close-knit bunch. A good group of hard working players. They're psyched. It's not how far we go, but how we perform. We're a speedy little group. We work so well as a team.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Yarmouth has fallen in the regional final to rival NYA in each of the past two seasons, but has produced plenty of drama in the process. This time around, some might feel the Clippers are still a year away, but even after graduating some top-notch talent (most notably All-American Lanier Bolmer), Yarmouth has reason to believe it can get the job done. Last week, the Clippers opened with a 13-11 victory at York, behind seven goals from Torres, an All-American honorable mention and league all-star a year ago. She leads what could be a potent attack. Bell, Bialek, Curry and Salmon will also be forces to contend with, as will three sophomores: Caitlin Crawford, Claudia Lockwood and Jeanna Lowery. Bell and Torres will handle draws. On defense, senior Lizzie Fischman is back after missing 2009 with a knee injury. She's joined by Dilworth and the speedy Simsarian. Junior Carlie Woodson steps in to play goalie, replacing all-star Kelley Kasper. While there are only four seniors on the roster, many underclassmen have plenty of experience. The Clippers will score plenty of goals and should be able to neutralize the opposition. It will be tough to knock NYA off its perch, but by season's end, Yarmouth should have a great chance to beat anyone.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: Bob Morse (20th year)

2009 Results:

(Boys) no score @ Class B state meet

(Girls) tie-14th @ Class B state meet

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Ian Carle (Senior), Kevin Russell (Senior), Sam Woodbury (Senior), Asa Arden (Junior)

(Girls) Kate Brackett (Senior), Maria Hagerty (Senior), Eleanor Hurd (Senior), Caitlin McGrail (Senior), Mary Sansone (Junior), Chloe Sarapas (Junior)

Top foes: Falmouth, Greely

Coach's comment: “We want to make the top half of the Division II Western Maine Conference championships. The boys want to place two relay teams at states and have eight boys qualify for states. The girls want to send two relay teams and six girls to states. We still need 10 more boys and six more girls.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Yarmouth will boast some very good athletes in outdoor track this spring. Morse is assisted in the throws by Adam Smith, the sprints and jumps by Jeff Averill and the middle and distances by Chuck Thorp.

The boys have a lot of athletes. Woodbury's an experienced distance runner. He'll be joined by juniors Jon Drouin, Sam Kapner and Ben Nickerson and freshman Thomas Robichaud. Arden (sixth in the conference meet in the high jump), Carle and Russell return as jumping threats. Junior Cotter Jackson, sophomores Lucas Davis and Keith McDonald and freshman Sam McDonald will also look to score. The sprinting contingent is led by junior Tommy O'Toole and also includes Keith McDonald and sophomore Glenn Zachry. Junior Jason Brackett will compete in the hurdles. Junior Shane Ryan and Sam McDonald will participate in the throws. The Clippers will improve steadily as the season progresses and look to score at states for the first time since 2007.

On the girls' side, the loss of last year's Spring Female Athlete of the Year, javelin standout Haley Knaub, will be felt. She was the Class B state champion in 2009. This year, Hagerty and Caitlin McGrail, along with sophomore Mary McGrail, will look to fill the void. Yarmouth has more depth on the track side. Sansone competes in the sprints. Brackett, sophomore Phoebe Walsh and freshman Emma Pidden run the hurdles. In the middle-distance, keep an eye on sophomore Gina Micucci and freshman Josselyn Richards-Roberts. The distance contingent features Hurd, Sarapas and freshmen Caroline Macleod and Sydney Sperber. The Clippers will send their share of athletes to states and hope to score some points there once again.

BOYS' TENNIS

Coach: Mark Marstaller (12th year)

2009 Results: 14-2 (Beat Ellsworth 4-1 to win first Class B state championship)

Top returning players: David Olshan (Senior), Eli Pitegoff (Senior), Ben Robinson (Senior)

Pivotal matches: April 26 (H) YORK, April 30 @ Waynflete, May 5 (H) GREELY, May 7 @ Falmouth, May 11 @ York, May 17 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 24 (H) FALMOUTH

Coach's comment: “I expect we'll have another good year. My singles are pretty good and my doubles will get better with experience. Unfortunately, I lost five starters after last season and it may take a little time for my players to get used to their roles on the team and get experience. I expect about nine wins, a decent berth in the playoffs, then we'll see what damage we can do, hopefully a trip to at least the Western Maine finals.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Yarmouth finally got over the hump in 2009, winning a long-awaited Class B championship after over a decade of close calls. The Clippers lost some talent to graduation, including five starters, but should remain competitive this spring. Robinson (a first-team all-star last year) will be one of the top players in the state at his first singles spot. Pitegoff moves up from doubles to singles, while Olshan will also get a chance to strut his stuff. Several players are in the hunt for doubles spots. That group includes juniors Dan Conor, Andrew George, Connor O'Donnell and Ben Woodbury, sophomore Ethan Andrews and freshman Sam Beaulieu. Even with a new look, Yarmouth will be right in the mix with perennial contenders Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth. If the newer players are up to the challenge, the Clippers will have a great shot to steadily improve, approach last year's record and make a legitimate run at a title repeat.

GIRLS' TENNIS

Coach: Ann Harradon (14th year)

2009 Results: 7-6 (Lost 3-2 to Cape Elizabeth in Western Class B quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Maddie Pizey (Senior), Smythe Eddy (Junior), Chase McCain (Sophomore), Hannah Potter (Sophomore), Lindsey Robinson (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: April 26 @ York, April 30 (H) WAYNFLETE, May 3 (H) NYA, May 7 (H) FALMOUTH, May 17 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 21 (H) YORK

Coach's comment: “We're overloaded with sophomores this year. It's a small team, but we'll be OK. As always, our goal is to make the playoffs. We have a really good chance of that happening. We hope to go deeper than we went last year.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Yarmouth has now posted winning records and made the playoffs in 19 straight seasons. The Clippers have the pieces in place to keep those trends going in 2010. While the team is young, there is plenty of talent and promise. Potter (a first-team all-star last season) will play first singles, Pizey moves up from third to second singles and Eddy (a doubles player in 2009) slides into the No. 3 singles position. The first doubles team projects to include McCain and Robinson. The second squad includes a pair of new sophomores, Bailey Sheehan and Natalie Stern. While Falmouth remains the overwhelming region and state favorite, for good reason, Yarmouth should be able to hang tough with everyone else on the schedule. Look for the Clippers to improve upon last year's win-loss mark and enjoy a longer postseason stay.

Photo: File photo

Yarmouth senior ace Nick Whittaker looks to pitch the Clippers to greatness in 2010.

Photo: File photo

Yarmouth first baseman Aidan Sullivan was a Western Maine Conference all-star a year ago.

Photo: File photo

Senior Steven Petrovek is a reigning All-American and figures to score an abundance of goals for the Clippers this season.

Photo: File photo

Cam Woodworth is one of the premier goalies in the state.

Photo: File photo

Junior Becca Bell will look to score plenty of goals for the Clippers this season.

Photo: File photo

Junior Danielle Torres was an All-American in 2009 and will look to lead the Clippers deep into the playoffs this spring.