Deering Rams Spring Sports Preview

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Senior James Sinclair boasts a powerful bat and a strong right arm. He’ll be a dual threat for a Deering baseball team seeking a return trip to the playoffs.

File photos.

More photos below.

BASEBALL

Coach: Josh Stowell (third year, 21-15 overall record)

2016 record: 10-8 (Lost, 4-0, to Falmouth in Class A South quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Riley Bartell (Senior), Colby Dame (Senior), James Sinclair (Senior), Spencer Todd (Senior), Jack Lynch (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 25 @ Scarborough, May 5 PORTLAND, May 13 @ Cheverus, May 16 @ Windham, May 20 SOUTH PORTLAND

Coach’s comment: “Our team chemistry’s good. The guys like being around each other. They’re excited. We have five returners who played a significant amount last year. Basically everybody’s back. That’s our strength. We have a lot of guys who are baseball guys. It’s their number one sport. I think it’s going to be another year where any of six to eight teams could win it. We want to build on our last two years, win more than 10 games and get a good seed for the playoffs.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering has been very competitive the past two seasons under Stowell and while graduation took its toll, the Rams should be right back in the hunt this spring in a league that appears wide open for the taking.

Dame (an honorable mention all-star last season after posting a 2.01 earned run average) and Sinclair are veteran pitchers. Bartell and Todd will see some time on the hill as well. Lynch projects to be the catcher. The infield will feature some combination of Lynch, Sinclair, Todd and sophomore Luke Hill. Bartell will be joined in the outfield by senior Robbie Dacey and junior Luc Harrison. Deering is without senior Orey Dutton, who is out for the year with a back injury, but the Rams have several players who do multiple things and that will bode well as the season progresses.

Class A South is its usual competitive self, but Deering knows it can play with everyone. There will be a lot of close games and how the Rams do in those contests will determine just how high they’ll finish. After bowing out in the quarterfinals the past two years, Deering is seeking a deeper run this spring. If the pieces fall into place, a trip to the semifinals for the first time since 2010 could be the end result.

SOFTBALL

Coach: John Coyne (first year)

2016 record: 4-12 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Sydney Giroux (Senior), Kaylee Helmick (Senior), Taylor Kelly (Senior), Maddy Broda (Sophomore), Mackenzie O’Donnell (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 21 @ Westbrook, May 1 CHEVERUS/NYA, May 10 @ Portland, May 19 PORTLAND, May 26 @ MGA/Falmouth

Coach’s comment: “Things are coming along well. We have good chemistry. The kids are upbeat. We’ve got youth on our side. Seven of our 15 players are sophomores or freshmen. We have to replace a good portion of our offense and defense, but I have a brood of pitchers. We have enough athletic ability and with growth, we’ll have confidence. We’d like to win at least six games and scoot into the playoffs.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering continued its climb back to contention last spring and this season, the Rams welcome a new coach in Coyne, who served the past four years as the program’s junior varsity/assistant. He takes over a squad that has a nice mix of experience, youth and hunger.

Helmick is a veteran pitcher, but she won’t have to do it by herself. Giroux will also see key innings. Giroux can play multiple positions and also wields a potent bat (.327 last season). Freshman Liz Drelich will be behind the plate, Broda, Kelly and O’Donnell are other experienced returners who can fill holes in the infield or outfield. Several other youngsters will look to take advantage of their opportunities as the season progresses.

Deering last made the playoffs in 2009. If the Rams can win the games against teams at their level, they have the opportunity to end that drought. The future is even brighter.

BOYS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Jon Dubois (sixth year, 30-37 overall record)

2016 record: 7-6 (Lost, 11-9, to Cheverus in Class A North quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Machar Nguany (Senior), Tanner Nussinow (Senior), Nate Richards (Senior), Chase Walter (Senior), Omar Contreras (Junior), Zach Harvey (Junior), Nick James (Junior), Jonah Peterson (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 25 CHEVERUS, May 2 @ Portland, May 5 THORNTON ACADEMY, May 9 SCARBOROUGH, May 19 @ South Portland, May 26 WINDHAM

Coach’s comment: “We graduated six kids so we’re a little young, but we have a few seniors. I think we’ll have a good squad. The young kids who didn’t get time last year will need to step it up and play. We need to beat Portland first and foremost. We lost to them last year for the first time since 2010. That hurt quite a bit. We haven’t beaten Cheverus since 2012. Besides that, we want to get to the playoffs and make a run.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering won its final four games last season to post a winning record and make the playoffs, then gave higher seeded Cheverus a scare in the quarterfinals before falling short. This spring, the Rams are hoping to again be a factor in Class A North and perhaps enjoy an even longer playoff stay.

Richards was a first-team league all-star a year ago. He’ll be a top midfielder this year and will get help from Harvey and James. On attack, look for Contreras and Peterson to do their share of goal scoring. Walter will take faceoffs and is also a long-stick middie, along with Nguany. Nussinow returns in goal. 

Deering has all the elements to contend. There will be some tough tests as the season progresses, but if the Rams click, they’ll have a chance to beat their rivals, get back to the postseason, then be a team that no one wants to face.

GIRLS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Aimee Burgos (third year, 7-18 overall record)

2016 record 5-8 (Lost, 14-5, to Lewiston in Class A North quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Hanna Amergian (Senior), Cindy Hoang (Senior), Luci Santerre (Senior), Alli Donovan (Sophomore), Gabby Taliento (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 27 @ Biddeford, May 4 @ Cheverus, May 9 @ Massabesic, May 18 SOUTH PORTLAND, May 23 MGA, May 25 @ Sanford, May 31 PORTLAND

Coach’s comment: “This is the largest group of girls I have seen in my three years. Not only did we welcome 14 freshmen to our squad, but we also had a handful of upperclassman come out for their first season with us. To see all these new faces picking up the game for the first time and finding success each day is the best feeling as a coach. I’m very confident that this season will be a turning point for our program. I’ve worked really hard to develop a program that holds these girls to a higher standard than many of them are used to. With the promotion of continuous improvement, commitment and accountability, our players learn the lifetime skills of being a part of a team.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering made great strides a year ago, reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2008, and this spring, the Rams are hoping to post a winning record and stay awhile in the postseason. They have the pieces in place to do so.

The offense is paced by Santerre, a captain. She’ll be involved in everything from winning draws to scoring goals. Amergian, Donovan (an SMAA All-Rookie team selection in 2016), Taliento, junior Taylor Banks, a transfer from St. Dom’s, and freshman Kiaya Gatchell are other players who will be involved in the offensive mix. Hoang, the other captain, is the leader on the defensive end. She’ll be joined by freshman Aleah Murph, who could quickly become a household name, in protecting new junior goalie Divine M’Bambi.

Deering has numbers, athleticism and hunger. That’s a great recipe for success. The Rams know they can compete with everyone on their schedule and some early success would help propel them where they want to go. Back to the playoffs and beyond.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Boys’ coach: Gerry Myatt (fifth year)

Girls’ coach: Kevin Campbell (fourth year)

2016 results:

(Boys) 6th @ Class A state meet

(Girls) 16th @ Class A state meet

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Ezra Chapola (Senior), Masho Gebremikael (Senior), Mason Kaserman (Senior), Hisham Ramadan (Senior), Kevin Segal (Senior), Cade Violette (Senior), Kabala Muka (Junior), Wilder Baldwin (Junior), Yahya Nure (Junior), Aryz Terlaje (Junior), Songha Loth (Sophomore), Alec Troxell (Sophomore)

(Girls) Elizabeth Erbe (Senior), Caitlin Lally (Senior), Darrah Scott (Senior), Annah Rossvall (Junior), Lucy Tumavicus (Junior), Nicole Whipkey (Junior), Grace Tumavicus (Sophomore)

Coach Myatt’s comment: “We don’t have the numbers we had indoors, but we have some quality back. We hope to cover all the events. We should be in the top half of the league. We’ll get points out of some of these guys.”

Coach Campbell’s comment: “Our 4×800 relay team was third last year at states and they all return. We hope to be well-rounded and score in most events during the season and to improve our state meet performances.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering’s outdoor track program boasts several standout athletes this spring.

The boys are coming off their best state meet showing in nine years and hope to be a factor again even after graduating standout Paolo DeMarco. Chapola, coming off a superb indoor season which saw him named Deering’s Winter Male Athlete of the Year, will be a top jumper (he was fifth in the triple jump last spring and hopes to move up). He’ll be joined by Kaserman. In the throws, look for Muka and Terlaje to threaten to score. Senior Chris Solo, the wrestling champion, and freshman Travis Soule, will throw and pole vault. On the track side, the distance contingent features Baldwin, Gebremikael, Nure, Ramadan, Troxell and senior Musa Abdi. Sprinters to watch include Loth, Segal, Solo, Soule and junior Chris Irakoze. Irakoze, Segal and Violette will compete in the hurdles. The Rams will hang tough with all but the elite teams and have the potential to finish in the top 10 at states again.

On the girls’ side, Deering has great distance depth. Erbe, Grace Tumavicus, Lucy Tumavicus and Whipkey were part of a third-place 4×800 relay team last spring. Whipkey is also a threat in the 800 (she was fifth last June). Rossvall is a standout in the sprints and hurdles.  Other sprinters to watch include Lally and Scott. Junior Gaia Zampieri is a new middle distance runner and freshmen Madison Alves (hurdles and jumps) and Darcy Lally (pole vault) look to make noise as well. The Rams will be a strong team during the regular season and if all goes well at states, could make a run at a top 10 finish.

BOYS’ TENNIS

Coach: Regina Morton (seventh year)

2016 results: 10-4 (Lost, 3-2, to Falmouth in Class A South semifinals)

Top returning players: Conor Doane (Senior), Elliot Weeks (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “Conor is returning as our number one player. He will definitely be one of the top players in our league during the regular season. Behind Conor, I lost my entire starting lineup with the exception of Elliot. After one and two singles, all of my positions are up for grabs at this point. Of course, once playoffs roll around, Falmouth will be the big brick wall we run into once again.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering has been very competitive in recent seasons and should be one of the better teams in Class A South again, even with some holes to fill.

Doane is a reigning league all-star and will be back at the No. 1 singles spot once again. He’ll win the vast majority of his matches. Weeks moves into the singles mix and after that, uncertainty reigns. Seniors Hoa Nguyen, Joel Kahn and Alex Smith will battle for the final singles spot and to make up the top doubles team. After that, some youngsters will fill out the roster.

The Rams will start out with promise and figure to end the season having improved dramatically and posting a winning record for the seventh year in a row. They’ll be primed to be a factor in the postseason as well.

GIRLS’ TENNIS

Coach: Stephanie Doane (sixth year)

2016 results: 9-5 (Lost, 5-0, to eventual state champion Falmouth in Class A South quarterfinals)

Top returning player: Cassi Bigelman (Senior), Meghana Clere (Senior), Ally Green (Senior), Anaise Maikunda (Senior), Liva Pierce (Senior), 

Coach’s comment: “Meghana is a strong athlete and should go far this year. We’re very excited to have freshman Sarah Wriggins at No. 2 singles. We hope to go far in the postseason this year.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering reached the playoffs last spring for the fourth year in a row and posted its best record since 2009. The Rams hope to build on that this season behind a solid combination of veterans and promising newcomers.

Clere will play in the first singles spot and projects to be one of the best players in the league. Freshman Sarah Wriggins will be in the second spot and could quickly become a household name. Pierce will play third singles. Doubles teams will consist of some combination of Bigelman, Green, Manikunda and newcomer Liz Sevigny.

Deering looks to remain in the thick of contention in Class A South and has the pieces in place to not only produce another winning record, but to go on a run when the postseason begins.

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

Senior southpaw Colby Dame will be a top pitcher for the Rams this spring.

Senior Riley Bartell is another top returning hurler for Deering.

Senior Spencer Todd will spend time on the infield and will be a key bat in the lineup.

Senior Kaylee Helmick will be back on the mound for Deering’s up-and-coming softball program.

Junior Zach Harvey will take faceoffs and will be a force all over the field for Deering’s boys’ lacrosse team, which hopes to build on last year’s strong finish.

Junior Nick James could be a top scorer for the Rams this season.

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