Greely Rangers Spring Sports Preview

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Greely’s baseball team accomplished something unprecedented in program annals last season, winning consecutive Class B championships. The 2016 Rangers are ready to make another title run.

File photos.

More photos below.

BASEBALL

Coach: Derek Soule (17th year, 234-66-1 overall record, four state championships)

2015 record: 15-5 (Beat Camden Hills, 10-0, in five innings, to win second consecutive Class B state championship)

Top returning players: Justin Leeman (Senior), Caleb Normandeau (Senior), Austin Nowinski (Senior), Matt Pisini (Senior), Cal Soule (Senior), Dylan Fried (Junior), Ryan Twitchell (Junior)

Pivotal games: May 2 YARMOUTH, May 4 @ York, May 6 @ Falmouth, May 11 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 13 @ Freeport, May 20 FALMOUTH, May 27 CAPE ELIZABETH

Coach’s comment: “I’m lucky to have an experienced senior core group. A lot of what we’re doing in the preseason is reviewing game situations. It’s a veteran crew that takes pride in what they do. We’ll focus on getting better as a team and as individuals. We have 10 seniors who are very disciplined, focused and driven. It should be a really competitive regular season. I’m excited.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Last spring, for the first time, Greely repeated as Class B champion, thanks to Twitchell’s five-inning no-hitter in the state final. This year’s team has some holes to fill, but the Rangers are well equipped to make June their month yet again.

Twitchell didn’t just dominate in the state final last season. He won three playoff games and went 6-2 overall with a 1.27 earned run average and 53 strikeouts in 44 dominant innings. He’ll look to step into the ace role held last season by Will Bryant, the Western Maine Conference Player of the Year and Greely’s Spring Male Athlete of the Year a year ago. Leeman and Normandeau, along with 6-foot-5 senior lefthander Brad Spoerri, will also be keys on the mound. Fried returns behind the plate. Leeman, who hit .359 and had a team-high 17 runs batted in last season, will bat lead off and play second base when he doesn’t pitch. Soule, a second-team league all-star in 2015, is the shortstop. He batted. 379 with 21 runs scored and 16 RBI and is looking to bow out with one more piece of hardware. Normandeau and sophomore A.J. Eisenhart will also be on the infield. The outfield features Nowinski, Pisini (who is fully recovered from his football injury), Spoerri and sophomores Nolan Anderson and Luke Miller. The Rangers rolled in their opener Thursday, 15-2, in five innings, over visiting Fryeburg Academy. Twitchell earned his first win of the spring and Leeman and Soule paced the offense with two hits and three RBI apiece.

While Greely is ultimately measured by what it does in June, this year’s squad is going to focus on the regular season, consistent improvement and positioning itself for a playoff run. The arms, gloves and bats are in place for more greatness. Don’t be surprised if when the dust settles, the Rangers are celebrating once more.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Rob Hale (second year)

2015 record: 14-4 (Lost, 7-0, to eventual state champion Yarmouth in Western B semifinals)

Top returning players: Charlotte Benoit (Senior), Evan Carrell (Senior), Kate Currier (Senior), Miranda Eisenhart (Senior), Lexi Faietta (Senior), Sarah Felkel (Senior), Kayley Cimino (Junior), Moira Train (Junior), Kelsey Currier (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: May 2 YARMOUTH, May 4 @ York, May 6 @ Falmouth, May 11 @ Cape Elizabreth, May 16 @ Fryeburg, May 18 @ Gray-NG, May 20 FALMOUTH, May 27 CAPE ELIZABETH

Coach’s comment: “.We return a strong lineup, but graduation did take three starters who were key to our offense and it included our battery. I’m not sure who will fill some of those spots. The only given is Kelsey Currier, who is ready and able to take over the majority of pitching innings. We have a number of people vying for other spots and I don’t see us having a set nine starting lineup. We’re in a very competitive conference. In 14 of 16 games, we play playoff teams (from last year). That said, we won’t be happy if we’re not playing for some bling. We’ll enjoy the journey, but we have a destination in mind. There are girls on this team who have been on championship teams in other sports, so the bar and expectations are always high here in Ranger Country.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Greely was the top-ranked team for last year’s playoffs, but for the second straight spring, the Rangers were stymied by Yarmouth. Pitcher Miranda Moore and catcher Audrey Mann have departed, but Greely has plenty of talent in reserve and should be one of the last teams standing.

Kelsey Currier, who showed flashes as a freshman, will be the lead pitcher. She went 5-1 with a 2.46 earned run average, fanning 60 batters in 59.2 innings. Hale has confidence in her ability to throw strikes and win games. Benoit moves behind the plate. Felkel (.382 batting average, 20 runs scored and 10 runs batted in last spring when she was a first-team league all-star) will play third base. Eisenhart will be at first. Faietta is at second, Train (12 runs scored) and Kate Currier can play where needed. Carrell (.367, 18 runs and 10 RBI) was a second-team all-star in 2015 and along with Cimino (1 home run, 9 RBI last season) anchors the outfield. Benoit and Faietta will also see time out there.

The Rangers, who opened with a dramatic 2-1 home win over Fryeburg Academy Thursday on Kelsey Currier’s daring baserunning play in the bottom of the seventh inning, face no shortage of tests in the weeks to come, but with Currier on the mound, solid hitters up and down the lineup and an aggressive approach which will certainly cause mistakes by the opposition, Greely stands to produce another winning record (something which has been the case every season since 1999) and this time around, might not be stopped when June rolls around. The Rangers could wind up with some bling after all.

BOYS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Mike Storey (fifth year, 32-21 overall record)

2015 record: 8-5 (Lost, 9-8, in overtime, to Kennebunk in Western B quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Nate Grandchamp (Senior), Alex Kroot (Senior), Sam Peck (Senior), Dylan Sincalir (Senior), Dillon Trelegan (Senior), Alex Wetmore (Senior), Josh Lawless (Junior), Grady Wood (Junior), Tim Coyle (Sophomore), Ben Kennedy (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: May 3 YARMOUTH, May 7 CAPE ELIZABETH, May 12 @ Kennebunk, May 14 CHEVERUS, May 21 @ Thornton Academy, May 23 @ Falmouth, June 1 KENNEBUNK

Coach’s comment: “We’re young and we’re facing some hurdles, but I think we’re better than last year. We have a great group of kids who are talented and coachable. Our scoring will be balanced this year. There’s still a big mountain to climb when it comes to Cape, Falmouth and Yarmouth. It’s a challenge we’re excited about. We want to get to that elite status.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Greely has been a model of consistency, reaching the playoffs 15 years running and posting winning records each of the past five seasons. The Rangers will once again look to close the gap between themselves and the state’s most accomplished programs and they might just sneak up on some folks in the weeks to come.

Coyle will look to gain possession as the faceoff guy. The scoring will come from many sources, including 2015 Underclass All-Star Wetmore. Kennedy, Kroot, Lawless, Trelegan and Peck, the football standout, all figure to tickle the twine. Defensively, Grandchamp (an Underclass All-Star) and Wood hold down the fort in front of Sinclair in goal. Greely has plenty of athleticism and skill.

The Rangers will have some tough tests during the regular season, but they’ll get to find out just how close they are to the top teams. Greely should have no problem getting back to the postseason. There, the Rangers will have to solve Cape Elizabeth or Falmouth. Just how much this team comes together between now and June will determine whether or not that’s a realistic aspiration.

GIRLS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Becca Koelker (fourth year, 19-20 overall record)

2015 record: 4-9 (Lost, 14-8, to Kennebunk in Western B quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Jaime Coyle (Senior), Maegan Dougherty (Senior), Brie Nicoleau (Senior), Meghan O’Donovan (Senior), Kelsey Otley (Senior), Faith Price (Senior), Maggie Reed (Senior), Katherine Leggat-Barr (Junior), Ellie Schad (Junior), Courtney Sullivan (Sophomore), Greta Van Curan (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 30 @ Massabesic, May 4 CAPE ELIZABETH, May 6 @ Kennebunk, May 11 @ Yarmouth, May 17 YORK, May 19 @ Freeport, May 23 FALMOUTH, June 1 @ Cape Elizabeth

Coach’s comment: “We lost only two starters and return a core group of players. Our seven senior starters will set expectations of what the program will be. We have a different schedule, which is good. This year, we have great athletes. We want to put the pieces together and play as a team. We want to get in the playoffs and advance.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Greely is looking to advance deeper in the playoffs this season and even though the Rangers are in the toughest region, they should be very dangerous.

Greely’s offense will be paced by last year’s leading scorers, Dougherty and O’Donovan. Schad and Van Curan, who played goalie last season, will also figure into the scoring mix. Otley, a first-team league all-star last year, Leggat-Barr and Sullivan are top midfielders. The defense is senior-laden and is paced by Reed, a second-team all-star last year. She’s joined by Coyle, Nicoleau and Price. Sophomore Clarissa Campo will take over in goal this season. She shows promise.

Greely has to navigate the likes of Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Kennebunk, Waynflete and York and that’s in Class B South alone. Other tough games litter the schedule, so nothing will come easily. Despite the challenges, the Rangers have the talent to win the majority of their games and get back to the postseason. If they get in, they’ll be a team that no one wants to face with the season on the line.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: John Folan (23rd year, six state championships)

2015 results:

(Boys) 8th @ Class B State Meet
(Girls) 3rd @ Class B State Meet

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Ian Cameron (Senior), Nathaniel Chapin (Senior), Kyle Hansen (Senior), Ryan Morrison (Senior), Chris Perry (Senior), Aidan Regan (Senior), Connor Rog (Senior), Mick Washo (Senior)

(Girls) Kayla Barry (Senior), Maggie Crosby (Senior), Siana Emery (Senior), Jocelyn Mitiguy (Senior), Sam Pynchon (Senior), Sofia Reali (Senior), Sophie Stickney (Senior), Lauren Williams (Junior), Lizzie Brown (Sophomore), Olivia Bucknam (Sophomore), Kate Curran (Sophomore), Caroline Swaney (Sophomore), Chloe Waldrep (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “The girls have a good number of untested newcomers. We’ll see what happens. We hope to stay among the top few teams in the state like we usually are. The boys are led by a solid upperclass distance crew. There’s lots of room for youngsters to develop. We hope to achieve top five results at the state meet.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Greely’s outdoor track program remains strong and hopeful of doing big things in the weeks to come.

The boys return Morrison, who was runner-up in the mile and sixth in the two-mile at last year’s state meet, Rog, who placed sixth in the 800, and Hansen, who came in seventh in the two-mile. Junior Max Stickney is another distance runner of note. Perry will be tough in the middle distance. Regan is the top sprinter. On the field side, Cameron and junior Elliott Boardman look to score in the throws. Chapin is the top jumper. Washo, junior Sam Bonnevie and sophomore Gavin Poperechny hope to soar in the pole vault. Falmouth and York will be tough foes during the regular season. At the Class B state meet, the Rangers will be among the top teams and should be in line to improve on last year’s finish.

On the girls’ side, while reigning discus and shot put champion and Spring Female Athlete of the Year Alyssa Coyne is sidelined while recovering from reconstructive knee surgery this season, the Rangers still have plenty of firepower in reserve. Emery is the defending Class B racewalk champion. Mitiguy (fourth in the 100 hurdles a year ago) hopes to move up. Stickney placed seventh in the two-mile in 2015 and joins Bucknam, Crosby, Curran and Waldrep in the distance events. Swaney is a top sprinter. Pynchon and Williams tied for fifth in the high jump last season. They’ll contend again in the jumps, as will Barry, Reali and Williams. Brown can do a little of everything. Several freshmen suggest that Greely’s possibilities are endless. Julia Curran and Carolyn Todd run the longer races. Addy Traficonte sprints. Maddy Irish is a hurdler. Maddy Maynard is a promising thrower and Maggie McCormick is a threat in the pole vault. Greely will be pushed by the likes of Falmouth, Gray-New Gloucester, Lake Region and York in the league and of course, Waterville looms come June, but the Rangers should be able to hold their own against everyone. Another strong season is in store.

BOYS’ TENNIS

Coach: Bert Kendall (11th year)

2015 record: 4-9 (Lost, 5-0, to eventual state champion Cape Elizabeth in Western B quarterfinals)

Top returning player: Blaine Ventre (Senior)

Pivotal matches: April 27 YORK, April 29 @ Kennebunk, May 13 NYA, May 16 KENNEBUNK, May 20 @ Yarmouth

Coach’s comment: “This will be a rough year, as we have low numbers. Only 10 players total, with five having played before. We only have one varsity player returning. Our outlook is to try and be competitive and hopefully win a few matches. I see a great group of young men and hopefully a chance for them to learn and grow for the new few seasons. Our brave 10 are getting ready.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Greely is largely starting from scratch this spring, but should show steady improvement.

The only experienced returner is Ventre, who projects to play first singles. Junior Ryan Weeks and sophomores Brandon George and Tim Kendall are vying for the other singles spots. Freshman Ryan Thompson is promising and will be on the first doubles squad.

The Rangers play in a tough league and will have their hands full against several foes, but there are teams on the schedule that they will match up well with. While a return trip to the playoffs appears to be a longshot, this group will only get better and position itself for future success.

GIRLS’ TENNIS

Coach: Ben Caswell (fourth year, two state championships)

2015 results: 14-2 (Beat MDI, 5-0, to win second consecutive Class B state title)

Top returning players: Madelyn Day (Senior), Alex Tebbs (Senior), Kathryn Paré (Junior)

Pivotal matches: May 2 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 9 @ Falmouth, May 10 WAYNFLETE, May 13 @ NYA, May 18 CAPE ELIZABETH, May 20 YARMOUTH

Coach’s comment: “Our lineup will look a lot different this year. As I look forward to this season, I see a lot of opportunity in front of us. We have a large group of girls with the opportunity to compete for spots. With that internal competition, our team will only get better and we’ll see who wants to step up and fill the holes. We know that the league is very strong every year and we feel that we should be able to compete with the stronger teams. We don’t have the experience that we had last year, but we have a talented group with a lot to prove.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: After winning the program’s first championship in 2014, Greely decided it liked being on top so much that it repeated last spring. Some key departures will complicate the Rangers’ quest for a three-peat, but rest assured, they’ll be heard from in the postseason yet again.

After three players graduated, Greely’s lineup is further compromised with first-team all-star standout Izzy Evans spending the season studying in Spain. Paré, a second-team all-star in 2015, along with Day and Tebbs, lead this year’s effort. Senior Nora Harrison, junior Jenna Rice and sophomore Katie Steinberg hope to step in and make a quick impact.

Several teams are hoping to end the Rangers’ title reign, but they won’t be dethroned easily. Greely might hit a few speed bumps over the course of the season, but come playoff time, look out.

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

Junior Ryan Twitchell won three games in last year’s postseason, including a five-inning no-hitter in the state final.

Senior shortstop Cal Soule is the quintessential coach’s son, smart, skilled and a great leader.

Senior Justin Leeman can make it happen on the mound, at the plate and on the basepaths.

Senior Caleb Normandeau will be a top pitcher, hitter and fielder for the Rangers this season.

After missing football season with a knee injury, senior Matt Pisini is excited to play baseball this spring.

Junior catcher Dylan Fried is fearless and makes big plays behind the plate.

Senior Charlotte Benoit will swing a potent bat and be behind the plate this season for a Greely softball team with high expectations.

Senior Evan Carrell hit .367 last season.

Big things are expected from sophomore pitcher Kelsey Currier this spring.

Senior Miranda Eisenhart is another key returner for the Rangers.

Regardless of the season, senior Lexi Faietta always plays a key (and often unheralded) role in her team’s success.

Senior Sarah Felkel was a league all-star a year ago.

Junior Moira Train will be in the middle of the action as well.

Senior Sam Peck, Greely’s Fall Male Athlete of the Year after a dominant football season, will seek to excel on the lacrosse field this spring and help the Rangers back to the playoffs.

Senior Dylan Sinclair returns in goal for the Rangers.

Senior Maegan Dougherty was a top scorer for Greely’s girls’ lacrosse team last season and will be a force again this spring.

Senior Ryan Morrison is a top distance threat for Greely’s boys’ outdoor track team.

Senior Connor Rog scored in the 800 last season and will be a force to be reckoned with again.

Senior Siana Emery looks to repeat as state racewalk champion and hopes to lead Greely’s girls’ outdoor track team to the top of Class B.

Senior Jocelyn Mitiguy is a top hurdler for the Rangers.

Senior Sam Pynchon is a jumper to watch.

Senior Sophie Stickney scored in the two-mile at last year’s state meet.

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