Deering Rams Spring Sports Preview

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Improvement is the theme at Deering this spring and several squads could soon be making noise. Baseball is coming off a season which saw it play much better than its record indicated. The Rams will be a force in the weeks to come. Softball’s rebuilding process will continue. Look for that team to make steady strides. Boys’ lacrosse has been a playoff regular and should be in the hunt again. The girls’ team has a new coach and high hopes. Both track teams feature athletes who will be among the best in the conference and in the state. Boys’ tennis could be one of the best in the region, while the girls will also contend.

BASEBALL

Coach: Tim Eisenhart (third year, 6-26 overall record)

2013 record: 2-14 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Will Barlock (Senior), Nick Carmichael (Senior), David Fowler (Senior), Mike Marzilli (Senior), Ben Peterson (Senior), Nick Bevilaqua (Junior), Kevin Goldberg (Junior), Sam Luebbert (Junior), Dan Marzilli (Sophomore), Pat Viola (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 22 WESTBROOK, May 2 TA, May 15 SCARBOROUGH, May 20 @ Cheverus, May 24 SOUTH PORTLAND, May 26 PORTLAND, June 3 @ Westbrook

Coach’s comment: “This group has been together for three years. They have jelled as a team and enjoy playing the game. Our expectation is to make a strong playoff run. As a team, our focus will be to play each game one at a time, one play at a time and one pitch at a time.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering only managed to win twice last spring, but of its 14 losses, four were by a single run and another was by two. Those type of results generally hint at a team about to break through and don’t be surprised if the Rams turn the league on its ear in the weeks to come. Several veteran players have taken their lumps and are eager to deliver some payback. Starting on the mound, Luebbert will be the ace. He had an earned run average of 2.60 last spring. Big things are expected from Dan Marzilli in the number two spot. Deering has plenty of depth on the hill behind Goldberg, junior Brendan McNally (a transfer from Gray-New Gloucester), sophomore Dom Bernard (who will play first base and/or the outfield when he’s not on the mound) and freshman James Sinclair. If any of them have a breakout season, the Rams will benefit greatly. Carmichael is seasoned behind the plate and could be a top hitter, batting .277 last season. Other hitters to watch include Barlock, the third baseman and captain, who batted .234, Peterson, the first baseman and SMAA All-Defensive team member last spring, who batted .361, and Bevilacqua, the shortstop, who hit .269. Mike Marzilli (who made the All-Rookie team last year) is the other captain and he can do a little of everything. Fowler (outfield) and Viola (second base) also return. Senior infielder Tophe Thorne is another newcomer to watch. In a year devoid of a clear favorite, Deering will able to compete with everyone on the schedule. Now, the Rams just need to learn how to win. Once they do, they’ll be very dangerous. The state’s flagship program for so many years is on its way back. While championships are still down the road, Deering hopes to awaken the echoes and end a two-year playoff drought. This could be one of the feel-good stories of the spring.

SOFTBALL

Coach: John Moody (second year, 0-16 overall record)

2013 record: 0-16 (no playoffs)

Top returning players: Isabelle Doughty (Senior), Erin Winschel (Senior), Cassidy Coyne (Sophomore), Siobhan Densmore (Sophomore), Kaitlyn DiBiase (Sophomore), Mia Thurston (Sophomore)
Pivotal games: April 25 CHEVERUS, May 5 PORTLAND, May 30 @ McAuley

Coach’s comment: “We’re working on getting better every year. I’m excited about our returners and our freshmen coming in. We scored runs last year. I’m hoping this year, we get more. I think we’ll be pretty competitive against most teams. We’re turning the corner. We knew it would take time.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering had a rough go of it in 2013, but lost in the many one-sided defeats (10 games ended courtesy the 12-run mercy rule) was an ability to score runs. This time around, the Rams look to compete with most of their foes and get in the win column. Doughty and DiBiase will see most of the time on the mound. They’ll be joined by freshmen Sidney Giroux and Taylor Kelly. The offense figures to be paced by Doughty (who plays second base when she doesn’t pitch), Coyne (the first baseman), Giroux (who will catch and play centerfield when she doesn’t pitch) and freshman Caylee Helmick (second base/centerfield). DiBiase (second base), Densmore (shortstop) and Thurston (third base) all have experience in the infield. Winschel can play shortstop or the outfield. While Deering’s first playoff berth since 2009 might have to wait, the Rams will be very happy winning their first game since 2011, then capturing a few more. This program is on its way back.

BOYS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Jon Dubois (third year, 16-13 overall record)

2013 record: 7-7 (Lost, 11-4, to Cheverus in Eastern Class A semifinals)

Top returning players: Alec Halpin (Senior), Sam Hornblower (Senior), Isaac Santere (Senior), Andrew Johnson (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 25 @ Cheverus, April 28 PORTLAND, May 1 @ TA, May 6 @ Scarborough, May 20 SOUTH PORTLAND

Coach’s comment: “Our numbers are up this year. We’ll run with a lot of teams, but we’re shallow. Kids will have to step into the second and third string. I hope to accomplish that by playoff time. We play a competitive schedule. We hope to get to a playoff spot and get to be a final four team like we’ve been the past couple years.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: The Rams have been in the thick of the Eastern A playoff hunt four years running and have enough talent to return to the postseason this spring. Deering returns a first-team league all-star in Hornblower, who will take faceoffs and could be one of the state’s premier defensemen. He’ll anchor what should be a stingy unit in front of new goalie, sophomore Lenny Sarem. The offense will come from Halpin, Johnson and Santere. A couple new midfielders should step right in and make an impact. Freshmen Nate Richards and Brent Rickett can run the field, take faceoffs and help the cause on offense as well. They’ll provide some much needed depth. The Rams project to be competitive with just about everyone on the schedule. This team will only get better in the weeks to come. By June, don’t be surprised if Deering boasts another winning record and looms as a team that others hope to avoid. The Rams could wind up being a darkhorse.

GIRLS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Mimi Sokolowski (first year)

2013 record: 3-9 (no playoffs)

Top returning players: Casey Girsch (Senior), Heather Hodson (Senior), Molly Kilbride (Senior), Lily O’Leary (Senior), Juliana Salamone (Senior), Maddy Reid (Junior)

Pivotal games: May 2 CHEVERUS, May 13 MASSABESIC, May 21 @ South Portland, May 27 @ McAuley, June 3 @ Portland

Coach’s comment: “The girls are working very hard. I want to build a strong program and they’re buying in. We’re good at attacking and dodging on offense. We have a lot of hustle and heart and play good team defense. We’re focusing on the increments and celebrating the little things. We want to get better every day. We won three games last year. If we win four, I’d be pleased, but not satisfied. I’d like to help the seniors produce a winning record.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: It’s a new era for Deering girls’ lacrosse as Sokolowski replaces Andrew Gordon and becomes just the program’s third coach in its 16-year history (Karin Kurry from 1999-2004 and Gordon from 2005-13). Sokolowski grew up just outside Philadelphia and played lacrosse at Johns Hopkins University (where she was a captain). She’s worked with the middle school program at powerhouse Waynflete was an assistant coach at Falmouth last spring. She inherits a team ready to make a move up the standings. There are some talented athletes on the roster. On attack, O’Leary and Salamone look to score their share of goals. Freshman Luci Santere could be a goale producer as well as the season progresses. In the midfield, Girsch, Hodson and Kilbride all have experience and skill. Reid will anchor the defense in front of new goalie, senior Tori Grey. Sokolowski believes she has the pieces in place to show immediate improvement. This team just needs to earn some confidence. If that happens, Deering could make the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and post a winning record for the first time since 2007.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Boys’ coach: Gerry Myatt (second year)

Girls’ coach: Kevin Campbell (first year)

2013 results:

(Boys) 9th @ Class A state meet

(Girls) Tie-21st @ Class A state meet

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Giles Holmes (Senior), Jacob Coon (Junior), Yahya Hussein (Junior), Paolo DeMarco (Sophomore)

(Girls) Alexis Elowitch (Senior), Rashad Zagon (Senior), Katie Farrell (Junior)

Top foes: Cheverus, Scarborough, TA boys; Bonny Eagle, South Portland, TA girls

Coach Myatt’s comment: “We have reasonable numbers, but could always use more. We have some good younger kids this year. We’ll do fine. We’ll probably be better in bigger meets because we don’t have depth. We’re hoping for big things.”
Coach Campbell’s comment: “I have many freshmen and first-year athletes. My hope is to build on our successful indoor season and use our athletes in multiple events.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Both Deering outdoor track teams will be fun to watch in the weeks to come.

The boys’ squad has the tall task of replacing reigning Spring Male Athlete of the Year Jared Bell, who won the shot put and the discus (setting a new state record in the process) last season. Bell is now competing at Princeton. He’ll be missed, but the beat goes on. Hussein looks to make a mark in the distance races. Last spring, he was seeded 24th, but wound up fourth in the two-mile. He could be even better this season. Coon also scored in 2013 (coming in sixth in the high jump). He too looks to soar even higher. Holmes will compete in the jumps and middle distance and DePaulo, who scored indoors, will run the hurdles. Several newcomers will also be heard from. Juniors Ismail Biini and the vastly improved Iid Sheikh-Yusuf will contend in the middle distance and distance races. Senior Chhorda Chhorn, a well-known athlete from other sports, could be a top sprinter. Junior Mike Cummings and freshman Mason Kaserman add depth to the jumps. Junior Hamy Ramadan and freshmen Roman Anderson and Raffaele Salamone could be up-and-coming throwing standouts. Deering figures to be at its best in the big meets. Several athletes could make Southwesterns and states their personal playgrounds.

On the girls’ side, Campbell, the longtime indoor coach and outdoor assistant, has flipped places with Kevin Olson this spring and will be the head man. He too has ample talent to work with. The Rams return two scorers from last year’s state meet: Zagon, who is Deering’s reigning Spring Female Athlete of the Year after coming in fifth in the high jump, and Elowitch, the soccer star who can also throw with abandon (she placed fourth in the javelin and fifth in the shot put at last year’s state meet). In addition to jumping, Zagon will also hurdle (she won the 300 hurdles as last year’s SMAA meet), as will Farrell, who will compete in the 400 as well. Freshman Caitlin Lally is the top newcomer. She’ll compete in both the hurdles and the 400. This team will be a work in progress due to its youth, but having some top end stars will help with the learning curve. Look for the Rams to be very competitive with league foes and for a few individuals to really make noise come late May and early June.

BOYS’ TENNIS

Coach: Regina Morton (fifth year, 32-22 overall record)

2013 results: 7-6 (Lost, 5-0, to Kennebunk in Western A quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Tyler Butler (Senior), Jordan Roche (Senior), Isaac Finberg (Junior), Kelvin Huynh (Junior), Jason Thach (Junior), Marshall Abbott (Sophomore), Will Weeks (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: April 28 GORHAM, May 2 PORTLAND, May 5 @ Scarborough, May 14 WINDHAM, May 19 TA, May 21 @ Cheverus

Coach’s comment: “This is a very competitive and closely matched group of players. This is going to be a great season for us as we have over 20 players and all have a great knowledge and passion for the game of tennis. We’re looking forward to another great year. I have at least three alumni players who are my assistants and really add to the level of enjoyment and skill for everyone involved.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering has now made the playoffs 19 of the past 20 seasons and the upcoming campaign should feature more of the same. The top returner is Butler, who was a first-team league all-star in 2013. He’ll play number one singles. After that, there were a lot of questions about placement at press time. Finberg, Weeks and freshman Conor Doane are all in the singles mix. Abbott, Huynh, Roche and Thach will likely make up the doubles teams in some combination. The Rams have a lot of balance, which will make life difficult for the opposition. In a season without a favorite, Deering has a great shot to go deep into the playoffs. After coming very close to a regional title two years ago, this team hopes to play into June. Don’t be surprised if the Rams are among the final teams standing.

GIRLS’ TENNIS

Coach: Stephanie Doane (third year, 7-19 overall record)

2013 results: 6-8 (Lost, 4-1, to Windham in Western A quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Jazmine Abasta (Senior), Ava Koenigsberg (Senior), Maddie Abbott (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: May 2 @ Portland, May 5 SCARBOROUGH, May 21 CHEVERUS, May 27 MCAULEY

Coach’s comment: “I’m very optimistic. All of our singles players are returning. They had fabulous records last year. I expect the same this year, plus we have added strength at doubles.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: After a rare miss of the postseason in 2012, Deering returned to form a year ago and should be even stronger this spring. The Rams will be paced by their solid singles contingent, which includes reigning second-team league all-star Abbott at No. 1, Abasta at No. 2 and Koenigsberg in the third spot. Newcomers Jill Abramowitz and Liva Pierce figure into the doubles mix. If the doubles can produce victories consistently, Deering will be able to compete with just about everyone in the league. While Portland looks strong in its repeat bid and everyone is aware of the specter of seemingly invincible Falmouth looming come playoff time, the Rams have to believe that they have an opportunity to not just post a winning record, but perhaps make a deep postseason run. Big things could be in store for this group.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Senior Will Barlock is a veteran contributor for a Deering baseball team which hopes to make a run to the playoffs.

Junior Nick Bevilacqua will be a force at the plate this spring.

Junior Kevin Goldberg will help the Rams at the plate and on the mound this season.

Senior Alec Halpin will pace the Deering offense this spring.

Senior Isaac Santere is another key returner for the Rams.

Senior Casey Girsch is a key returner for a Deering girls’ lacrosse team which expects to enjoy a bounceback season.

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Senior Rashad Zagon had an excellent outdoor track season in 2013 and is aiming for even higher finishes this spring.

File photos.

More photos below.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.