Freeport Falcons Spring Sports Preview

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Freeport’s baseball team was the feel-good story of the 2016 season, stealing hearts and winning games all the way to the Class B state final. The Falcons are hoping to be competitive again this spring.

File photos.

More photos below.

BASEBALL

Coach: Bill Ridge (fourth year, 29-26 overall record)

2016 record: 14-7 (Lost, 12-2, in five innings, to Old Town in Class B state final)

Top returning players: Josh Spaulding (Senior), Josh Burke (Junior), Colby Wagner (Junior)

Pivotal games: May 3 FALMOUTH, May 5 @ Wells, May 10 CAPE ELIZABETH, May 12 YARMOUTH, May 15 @ York, May 24 @ Greely

Coach’s comment: “It’s a rebuilding year. We lost 71.2 regular season innings pitched and our 3, 5, 6 and 9 hitters. Wagner will be a big part of both the offense and defense. We will have a laundry list of new pitchers getting chances to produce on the mound for us. Making playoffs is the team goal, but for that to happen, we will need some players with little experience to step up.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Freeport’s baseball team was the best story of the spring last year, anywhere, as it came from nowhere to win a playoff game for the first time in 31 years, then capture three more for an improbable first-ever regional title. The fairy tale run ended with a loss to Old Town in the state final, but along the way Spring Male Athlete of the Year Jack Davenport, Coach of the Year Ridge and the rest of the Falcons took Freeport, Durham and Pownal on an unforgettable, triumphant ride. Now, the Falcons have the misfortune of having to reload in a season where they’ll be wearing the bulls-eye. Don’t write this team off, however, as they might just contend again.

Wagner is a top returner. He was a second-team league all-star in 2016. He’ll be the anchor on defense at catcher and also wields a potent bat (.417 with eight extra base hits, including three home runs, and 18 runs batted in a year ago). On the mound, Burke was a star in the playoffs a year ago, winning a pair of starts. He’ll be the horse this time around with help from Spaulding, last year’s closer. That a solid nucleus. Several other players will either look for more varsity playing time or to make a mark and Ridge will certainly get the most out of everyone on the roster.

Last year, Freeport made everyone believe that anything was possible. This edition isn’t as loaded with experienced talent, but the potential is there for a winning record and a fourth consecutive playoff berth. Look for this group to show steady improvement in the weeks to come.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Jason Daniel (third year, 5-27 overall record)

2016 record: 3-13 (no playoffs)

Top returning players: Brianna Bellefleur (Senior), Megan Cormier (Junior), Callie Toothaker (Junior), Brianna Welch (Junior), Abbye Koenig (Sophomore), Alexa Koenig (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 28 GRAY-NG, May 5 @ Wells, May 10 CAPE ELIZABETH, May 12 YARMOUTH, May 17 FRYEBURG, May 20 @ Gray-NG, May 24 @ Greely, May 31 @ Fryeburg

Coach’s comment: “We’re a very young team, but we believe we can be competitive. The older players have worked well with the younger players and have helped them a lot. As a coach, I need to make sure the girls’ confidence is up and that they believe in themselves all the time, win or lose. I believe with confidence and if we play together and support each other, we can be competitive.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Freeport is quietly putting together a very strong group of athletes. Now, the Falcons just need to earn some confidence and win some games and they might just be able to borrow from the baseball team’s script from a year ago and become a feel-good story.

Bellefleur returns on the mound. Alexa Koenig and freshman Alexys Langley will also see time on the hill. Toothaker will be behind the plate. The infield features Cormier at first, Alexa Koenig at third, sophomore Brook Toothaker at second and freshman Annika Thomas at shortstop. The speedy Abbye Koenig and Welch (a top defender) have experience in the outfield. They’ll be joined by freshman Sarah Gray. Offensively, Brook Toothaker will lead off. Cormier, Alexa Koenig and Langley have potent bats.

Freeport has the pieces in place, it just needs to go out and get the job done. Some early victories would play a big role in success down the road. The last time the Falcons made the playoffs was 2002. This squad could very well be the one to end that drought and set the stage for even more success down the road.

BOYS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Geoff Arris (ninth year, 43-61 overall record)

2016 record: 3-9 (no playoffs)

Top returning players: Perrin Davidson (Senior), Evan Donald (Senior), Connor Dostie (Senior), Reid Poissonnier (Senior), Nate Thomas (Junior), Garrison Thompson (Junior), Evan Owen (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 26 @ Waynflete, May 1 WAYNFLETE, May 5 KENNEBUNK, May 9 @ Falmouth, May 23 @ Greely, May 26 YARMOUTH

Coach’s comment: “We’re again a very young team, but I still have huge expectations for them. Our underclassmen are terrific leaders and the freshman class is quite impressive. I believe many will be impact players for us. Our returning players are very solid. They know our game plan, our philosophy and my expectations. I hope for us to become the team, to push each other to be better and bring that to the field. I’d like to win a few more games than last year and make a run back at the tournament. A year away gives us some drive and motivation to better ourselves and improve.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Freeport’s three-year streak of making the playoffs ended last spring, but three losses came by three goals or less, suggesting the Falcons aren’t far away from being a contender.

Davidson was an honorable mention all-star in 2016. He’ll be a captain who will be a force to contend with in the midfield. The offense figures to be led by Dostie (a captain, who plays attack), Owen (a midfielder), Thomas (a captain, who plays midfield) and sophomores Kaleb Barrett and Eriksen Shea. Donald (a captain, who plays midfielder) will take many of the faceoffs. Junior Jacob Tomm and freshman Sam Larochelle will also have the opportunity. Poissonnier also has experience and he’ll be on attack. In addition to Larochelle, three other freshmen, Steel Crawford, Jacob Gormley and Sam Tourigny, will be involved with the offense. Defensively, freshman Devan Hannan will see a big role in front of Thompson, who replaces standout goalie Zach Wogan, who graduated. Thompson played defense the past two years and appears primed for the challenge. Freeport suffered a tough 11-10 loss at NYA in the opener, but got five goals from Dostie.

The Falcons will have to overcome some youth and inexperience, but their talent is undeniable. If this group earn some victories, it will gain a lot of confidence before having to play some powerhouse squads later in the year. Freeport has the pieces in place to post a winning record and be the biggest threat to Yarmouth in Class B North when all is said and done.

GIRLS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Marcia Wood (third year, 13-15 overall)

2016 record: 5-8 (Lost, 15-5, to Yarmouth in Class B North quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Regan Lynch (Senior), Chloe Davidson (Junior), Taylor Dostie (Junior), Taylor Rinaldi (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 25 WAYNFLETE, April 29 @ Morse, May 1 CAPE ELIZABETH, May 6 @ Yarmouth, May 10 @ Kennebunk, May 19 FALMOUTH, May 30 @ Greely

Coach’s comment: “We have a lot coming back, the majority of our starters. We’ll have a good mix of scorers. I want to be competitive with the competitive teams. We’d like a higher seed this year.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Freeport extended its postseason streak to five years last spring, but for the fourth straight seasons, the Falcons couldn’t solve nemesis Yarmouth. The Clippers are the obstacle again and Freeport will have its work cut out against a daunting schedule.

The Falcons return a lot of talent, but replacing league all-star Lily Johnston and reigning Spring Female Athlete of the Year Courtney Broderick won’t be easy. This team’s offense will be sparked by Davidson, Dostie and Rinaldi, who will all see time in the draw circle and will all score their share of goals. Lynch will be a top returner on defense. Senior Jordan Randall, who saw limited minutes in 2016, will be the goalie.

Freeport has to play several top teams in the weeks to come and needs a victory over one of them to turn the corner. If everything comes together, the Falcons could be a difficult out in the playoffs.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: Matthew Greear (fourth year)

2016 results:

(Boys) 12th @ Class B state meet

(Girls) Tie-19th @ Class B state meet

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Henry Jaques (Senior), Griffin Agnese (Junior),

(Girls) Mikaela Fleenor (Senior), Johanna Bogue-Marlow (Junior), Patricia Dupere (Junior), Lilly Horne (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “This is one of our largest teams since we’ve had an outdoor team. Team depth should help us contend in meets. Leadership from the upperclassmen will be pivotal for a very young team with 44 underclassmen.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Freeport’s numbers are excellent this spring and that should translate into success.

The boys’ team graduated distance standout Chandler Vincent, but Jaques (second in the two-mile last year) is back. He’ll make a run at the top spot. Agnese will be a threat in the hurdles. Newcomers to watch include junior Jacob Tomm (jumps and throws), sophomores Alex Les (distance) and Matt Hinds (throws) and freshmen Jessie Bennell (middle distance) and Will Winter (sprints). The Falcons have enough quality athletes to hold their own in a very challenging conference and to finish in the top 10 at the state meet for the first time since 2014.

On the girls’ side, no individual state meet points return, but there is plenty of promise nonetheless. Veterans include Fleenor (400), Bogue-Marlow (400), Duperre (hurdles) and Winter Female Athlete of the Year Horne (mile). Add to that group freshmen Emma Abbott (sprints), Edie Hayden-Hunt (throws), Tara Migliaccio (sprints) and Emily Sclar (distance) and it appears Freeport will be very formidable from start to finish and will be poised to move up the standings at the big meets.

BOYS’ TENNIS

Coach: Jay Harper (17th year)

2016 record: 4-9 (Lost, 4-1, to Morse in Class B South quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Jordan Grotz (Senior), John Smail (Senior), Emmett Smith (Senior), Liam Gould (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “Our league is difficult. We have to beat Greely, Yarmouth, NYA and St. Dom’s to make it into the playoffs. I feel that our team is young overall, but we have a few seniors and if they play well, they could lead us to a good season and another trip to the playoffs.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Freeport has reached the postseason in four of the past five seasons and has the talent necessary to compete against the teams at their level.

Gould and Smail played singles last year and will likely do so again. Freshman Clay Canterbury and sophomore Wes Goodwin (injured last season) are vying for the other singles spot. Whoever is the odd man out could join sophomore Sullivan Smith on the first doubles team. Grotz and Smith were the second doubles team a year ago and might move up this season. Juniors Ben Barry and Evan McKittrick and sophomore Aaron Rusieki are also in the mix for playing time.

The Falcons know they’re not at the competitive level of perennial championship contenders Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth and Waynflete, but they can play with the other teams on their schedule and they know they need to win the majority of those matches to wind up where they want to go. Look for this team to improve steadily and don’t be surprised if Freeport gets to extend its season again.

GIRLS’ TENNIS

Coach: Mike Lawson (first year)

2016 record: 3-9 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Sarah Lano (Junior), Maya Dowling-Wolfe (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “I would venture that this team is unlike many others for two reasons, it is a large team and we’re very young. The girls are spirited and have a great sense of sisterhood. They’re eager to learn and improve. We hope to achieve many things, however, the most important of our goals is to have fun, support each other and represent Freeport as best we can. We want to continue to work hard to be better than we were the day before while providing a challenge to all teams we match up again.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Freeport welcomes a new coach this spring in Lawson, who inherits a group that is untested, but is full of promise.

The Falcons return Dowling-Wolfe. She’ll play singles. Lano is also back and will play doubles. Newcomers to watch include junior Cristiana Fente-Gutierrez and freshmen Grace Abbott, Lindsay Galletta, Emily Perilla and Charlotte Soule. How quickly that group hits its stride at the varsity level will determine how much success the Falcons will enjoy.

This team’s average grade level is 10, meaning that there will be a big learning curve, a curve made more difficult by the many talented teams on Freeport’s schedule. The future is bright for this program and if all goes well, the present could be a lot of fun as well.

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

Junior Josh Burke will be the Falcons’ ace this spring. He came up huge in the playoffs last year.

Junior catcher Colby Wagner was a league all-star last season. He’ll help the Falcons on offense and defense.

Junior Taylor Dostie is a key returning scorer for Freeport’s girls’ lacrosse team.

Junior Taylor Rinaldi is another key returner for the Falcons.

Senior Henry Jaques is a top distance threat for Freeport’s boys’ outdoor track team.

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