Deering Rams Spring Sports Preview

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Senior Jack Lynch and his Deering baseball teammates expect to contend again in Class A South.

File photos.

More photos below.

BASEBALL

Coach: Josh Stowell (fourth year, 29-25 overall record)

2017 record: 8-10 (Lost, 6-1, to Cheverus in Class A South quarterfinal)

Top returning players: Luc Harrison (Senior), Jack Lynch (Senior), Alex McGonagle (Senior), Keegan Stanton (Senior), Mike Jones (Junior), Luke Hill (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 24 WINDHAM, April 28 SCARBOROUGH, May 15 CHEVERUS, May 15 @ Portland, May 17 @ South Portland, May 19 FALMOUTH, May 29 THORNTON ACADEMY

Coach’s comment: “I think we have the ability to be pretty competitive. We lost almost every inning thrown from last year, but we have some juniors capable of stepping up. It’s going to be another year where the league is wide open. Our goal every year is to get over .500 and make the playoffs. We think we can make a run.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering made it three straight trips to the playoffs last spring and this season, the Rams once again find themselves in a very deep region, but they are equipped to again make some noise.

Deering will turn to several players to eat up innings on the mound. Harrison, Hill, Jones, junior Josh Paisley, who was hurt last season, and freshman lefty Bennett Berg all will have an opportunity to shine. Lynch, who will play at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts next year, returns as catcher. McGonagle, a three-sport athlete, and Hill, when he doesn’t pitch, will anchor the middle of the infield. Senior Dan Hill can play first base, third base and will also serve as the designated hitter. Paisley can play several different positions when he’s not pitching. Harrison and Stanton are top outfielders. Harrison, Lynch and Paisley project to be top hitters.

The Rams will be a work in progress in the weeks to come, but the athleticism and raw talent are there for them to win enough games to once again make the playoffs. If Deering saves its best for last, a long run could be the end result.

SOFTBALL

Coach: John Coyne (second year)

2017 record: 1-15 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Shayla Skinner (Senior), Maddy Broda (Junior), Mackenzie O’Donnell (Junior), Ashleigh Mathisen (Junior), Liz Drelich (Sophomore), Liv Serappa (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 17 SANFORD, April 25 SOUTH PORTLAND, April 30 WESTBROOK, May 9 CHEVERUS, May 14 @ MGA/Falmouth, May 25 @ Portland

Coach’s comment: “We’re in a better spot this year. The kids have matured. The kids believe. We have very good chemistry and a good core coming back. Having two pitchers this year will alleviate pressure. Last year, we had innings where the wheels would wobble, but this year, we have maturity. I can see us picking up five or six wins. Our goal is to play a game in June this year. We want to bring back a winning spirit.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering was competitive in several games a year ago and this spring, the Rams are poised to improve on their win total and even possibly compete for a playoff spot.

Coyne can turn to two girls, O’Donnell (an honorable mention league all-star last season) and freshman Rebecca Dunn, to do the pitching. If they can throw strikes, Deering will be in just about every game. Drelich returns as the catcher. The infield is in good hands with Broda, Mathisen, O’Donnell, when she doesn’t pitch, and Skinner, who can play everywhere. Serappa anchors the outfield.

This program is slowly turning the corner, much as rival Portland did several years ago before becoming the top contender it is now. Deering should win with more frequency this spring and continue its climb up the standings. The future is promising, but don’t write off this year’s squad.

BOYS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Jon Dubois (seventh year, 38-42 overall record)

2017 record: 8-5 (Lost, 15-12, to Cheverus in Class A North quarterfinal)

Top returning players: Omar Contreras (Senior), Zach Harvey (Senior), Nick James (Senior), Jonah Peterson (Senior), Ben Brown (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 13 SOUTH PORTLAND, April 25 @ Thornton Academy, May 2 KENNEBUNK, May 16 FALMOUTH, May 25 @ Scarborough, May 30 @ Cheverus, June 1 THORNTON ACADEMY

Coach’s comment: “We graduated five from last year. We have nine seniors this year. That’s the most seniors I’ve had and we also have a good mix of juniors and sophomores. We return four of our top five scorers from last year. I look forward to us running with the ball on offense. We’ll have to work hard on defense. Goalie will be a big question mark. If we can secure a playoff spot, we could make some noise.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering enjoyed its second straight winning season and third consecutive playoff berth a year ago. This spring, the Rams have what it takes to be competitive again in a new-look Class A North.

James was an honorable mention all-star and took part in the Underclass All-Star game last season. He’ll be a top player in the midfield. Joining James will be Harvey (who takes faceoffs), junior Silas Boxer and sophomore Brandon Ballard, who will also be a faceoff specialist. Contreras and Peterson will be top scoring threats up top. Brown, who played in the Underclass All-Star Game last season, is a key returning defender. Dubois wasn’t certain at press time who would replace Tanner Nussinow in goal.

Deering will score goals. The Rams need to be able to slow down the opposition and if they can, they’ll be one of the best teams in Class A North. While Falmouth, which is new to Class A this season, is the favorite, Deering could be one of the last teams standing when all is said and done.

GIRLS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Chelsey Morley (first year)

2017 record 3-9 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Taylor Banks (Senior), Alli Donovan (Junior), Alyssa Staples (Junior), Kiaya Gatchell (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: May 9 PORTLAND, May 15 @ Biddeford, May 19 @ NYA, May 22 CHEVERUS, May 31 @ MGA

Coach’s comment: “This team is an incredibly athletic and hard working group of young women. I believe that with the passion they have, we will be able to compete with each team and bring home some big wins.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering fell just short of the playoffs a year ago, but will be back in the hunt this spring as it welcomes a new coach in Morley, who played lacrosse and field hockey at the University of Maine-Farmington. Morley has coached field hockey at Deering and Freeport. She inherits her first varsity lacrosse team and has some athletes to work with.

Donovan was an honorable mention league all-star a year ago and will play a key role in the midfield, as will Gatchell, who made the SMAA All-Rookie team last spring. Gatchell will take draws and try to generate offense for the Rams. Banks is a top scoring threat up top. Defensively, Staples has experience and freshman Riley Forrest steps in to help the cause on that side of the ball in front of senior goalie Sulwan Ismail-Ahmed. Freshman Grayson Soldati will also see time between the pipes.

There’s plenty of optimism around this Deering team. The Rams should be able to compete against most of their foes and if the wins come, this could be a squad that won’t only make it to the playoffs, but perhaps wreak some havoc once it gets there.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Boys’ coach: Gerry Myatt (sixth year)

Girls’ coach: Kevin Campbell and Kevin Olson (fifth year)

2017 results:

(Boys) 8th @ Class A state meet

(Girls) tie-17th @ Class A state meet

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Nicsoni Bushiri (Senior), Matt Hanson (Senior), Chris Irakoze (Senior), Manny Lam (Senior), Aryz Terlaje (Senior), Blaize Vail (Senior), Jerry Mixangelo (Junior), Samacha Sam (Junior), Alec Troxell (Junior), Abukar Abu (Sophomore), Donnail Brown (Sophomore), Antonio Ciccomancini (Sophomore)

(Girls) Annah Rossvall (Senior), Lucy Tumavicus (Senior), Nicole Whipkey (Senior), Grace Tumavicus (Junior), Darcy Lally (Sophomore)

Coach Myatt’s comment: “We don’t have as much as we did indoors. We’ve lost some of our scorers to other teams this spring. We want to qualify as many guys as possible for states. We’ll be middle of the pack. It will depend on our improvement.”

Coach Campbell’s comment: “We have almost 40 girls on the outdoor squad this season. It’s a good mix of experience and newcomers. If the newer runners can learn from the upperclassmen, we’ll have a successful season.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering’s outdoor track program looks to build on the success of the indoor season.

The boys have enjoyed six straight top 10 finishes at the state meet and they have a shot at making it seven, but some big points will need to be replaced. Mixangelo and Troxell are top distance threats. They were part of a second-place 4×800 relay team at last year’s state meet. Irakoze was part of a runner-up 4×400 relay team last spring and also placed sixth in the 110 hurdles. He’ll sprint and hurdle this season. Brown, Ciccomanci, Lam, Sam and new junior Chris Kombo are other sprinters of note. Abu will look to score in the hurdles. On the field side, Bushiri was sixth a year ago in the long jump and could be one of the conference’s top jumpers this spring. Ciccomancini and Lam will also be threats in the jumps. Terlaje placed seventh in the discus last season and looks to move up. Other throwers to watch include Hanson and Vail. While Scarborough and Thornton Academy are the clear favorites this season in the SMAA, Deering could be right there with the next group and if the Rams show steady improvement, they’ll be heard from again at the championship meets.

On the girls’ side, Rossvall (Deering’s Winter Female Athlete of the Year) is a top returner. She placed fourth in the 300 hurdles last spring and is coming off a strong indoor campaign. Grace Tumavicus, Lucy Tumavicus and Whipkey scored in the 4×800 relay last season and will be threats in the distance events. They’re joined by Sierra Aponte-Clarke and Hadley Poirier. Newcomer Mimi Banksmith is a sprinter to watch. On the field side, Rossvall looks to score in the jumps and Lally is a top pole vaulter. Nicole Johnson comes over from softball and will throw. The Rams have the pieces in place to move up the standings this spring.

BOYS’ TENNIS

Coach: Regina Morton (ninth year)

2017 results: 8-5 (Lost, 5-0, to Portland in Class A South quarterfinal)

Top returning players: Hoa Nguyen (Senior), You Kahn (Junior), Logan Morrione (Junior), Alex Rubin (Junior), Elliot Weeks (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “This season, I have a mainly veteran team. I believe we have a good chance in our league to be one of the top five teams, but we are most interested in doing well against our closest rivals, Cheverus and Portland.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering enjoyed its fourth straight winning record and its seventh consecutive postseason trip a year ago. The Rams figure to be a top contender again this spring.

Weeks projects to be in a top singles spot. Kahn, Morrione, Nguyen and Rubin were vying for singles positions at press time. Other players to watch include senior Ahmed Hameed, juniors Lucas Jasonides, Kayliss Linell and Ben Schoenfeld, sophomore Hayden Weaver and freshman Jaedon Duckworth.

Deering is used to being in the mix and that should continue this spring. Expect the Rams to hold their own in league play and to once again be a team to watch when the playoffs begin.

GIRLS’ TENNIS

Coach: Marcy Weeks (first year)

2017 results: 9-5 (Lost, 5-0, to eventual state champion Falmouth in Class A South quarterfinal)

Top returning players: Liz Sevigny (Junior), Sarah Wriggins (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “Sarah trained hard during the offseason and I am expecting her game to show it this season. She is stronger and confident, so she should have a great record. Liz is looking stronger than ever. We’re a young team, but we have a lot of determination and focus.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Deering made it five straight trips to the postseason a year ago and this spring, the Rams welcome a new coach in Weeks, who assisted Stephanie Doane the past three years. Weeks is an active player who won the 35-and-older women’s division at last summer’s Betty Blakeman Memorial. She inherits a team that should be in the Class A South hunt.

Wriggins turned heads as a freshman, posting a winning record from the second singles position. She’ll be in the top spot this spring. Sevigny also has experience and will play second singles. Juniors Jasmine Chau and Tabarek Kadhim and sophomores Minka Ineza and Claire Sheehy also return. Domingus Nzuzi and Zuhol Sidici add depth.

Deering will hit its stride as the season develops and Weeks figures out who best to play where. The Rams look to be very strong in singles. If the doubles teams come along, another winning record and playoff berth could be the end result.

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

Senior Luc Harrison is a top hitter and outfielder for Deering’s baseball team.

Senior Alex McGonagle is a top returning infielder for Deering.

Senior Keegan Stanton will wield a potent bat for the Rams.

Junior Mackenzie O’Donnell looks to pitch Deering’s softball team into the win column this spring.

Junior Maddy Broda will be a stalwart on the infield for the Rams.

Senior Nick James made the SMAA all-star team a year ago and is a key returner for Deering’s boys’ lacrosse team, which expects to contend in Class A North.

Senior Zach Harvey is a key midfielder, who will take faceoffs this season.

Senior Jonah Peterson is another scoring threat up top for the Rams.

Senior Nicsoni Bushiri looks to score again in the long jump this spring.

Jerry Mixangelo will be a top distance runner for the Rams.

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