Greely Rangers Spring Sports Preview

  • Mail this page!
  • Delicious
  • 0

Junior ace Kelsey Currier looks to lead Greely’s softball team back to the playoffs this season.

File photos.

More photos below.

BASEBALL

Coach: Derek Soule (18th year, 246-71-2 overall record, four state championships)

2016 record: 12-5-1 (Lost, 1-0, to Freeport in Class B South semifinals)

Top returning players: Dylan Fried (Senior), Tate Porter (Senior), Ryan Twitchell (Senior), Luke Miller (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 21 CAPE ELIZABETH, April 28 @ Yarmouth, May 3 YARMOUTH, May 15 FALMOUTH, May 19 YORK, May 22 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 24 FREEPORT, May 26 @ York, May 31 @ Falmouth

Coach’s comment: “We have one of the top pitchers in the state and a highly experienced catcher. We graduated six players from last year’s regular lineup, so we’ll look to improve and develop around Twitchell and Fried as the season progresses.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Greely’s title reign came to a stunning close last year with a home loss to Cinderella Freeport in the semifinals. Graduation then took its toll on the program, as league all-stars Justin Leeman, Caleb Normandeau, Matt Pisini and Cal Soule all departed. Of course, with this program, the cupboard is never truly bare and Derek Soule, a recent inductee into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame, still holds some impressive cards.

Let’s start with an ace. Perhaps an ace unmatched anywhere in Maine in Twitchell, who is coming off a 6-0 campaign which saw him post a 0.62 earned run average and strike out 68 batters in 45 innings. Twitchell was named to the All-Conference team and was selected by The Forecaster as Greely’s Spring Male Athlete of the Year. Before he takes his superb right arm to the University of Rhode Island in the fall, Twitchell will be the horse who takes the Rangers deep into June. He can get the job done on offense too, leading the team with 19 runs batted in and scoring 15 runs a year ago. Another pitcher to watch is sophomore Will Neleski, who started two games as a freshman, going 1-0 without giving up a run and fanning 10 in 11.2 innings. Senior Sam Cloutier and sophomore Connor Sullivan will also see time on the hill. Whoever is on the mound will benefit from the steady leadership of Fried behind the plate. Fried has also caught 42 varsity games and had 10 assists last year. He also has a knack for getting on base (.460 on-base percentage in 2016). Fried is backed up by senior Logan DeCourcey. Miller (outfield/third base) and Porter (third base) are the other veterans. Several others will get an opportunity to either play more than in the past or see their first varsity action. That group includes seniors Eric Kinkead (outfield), Joe Piwowarski (first base/outfield) and Jack Saffian (outfield), juniors Nathan Cyr (first base/pitcher), A.J. Eisenhart (second base) and Eben Kiesow (pitcher/third base) and sophomore Zach Brown (shortstop).

Falmouth is likely the best team, at least on paper, in the Western Maine Conference, but the Yachtsmen won’t take part in the Class B tournament, so Greely has to like its chances to make another deep run. Twitchell can carry this team a long way. If he gets some help and the Rangers make the key plays in June, another championship celebration is a distinct possibility.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Rob Hale (third year, 29-8 overall record)

2016 record: 15-4 (Lost, 4-3, to York in Class B South Final)

Top returning players: Kayley Cimino (Senior), Moira Train (Senior), Kelsey Currier (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 21 CAPE ELIZABETH, April 24 @ Gray-NG, April 28 @ Yarmouth, May 3 YARMOUTH, May 13 @ Fryeburg, May 19 YORK, May 22 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 26 @ York

Coach’s comment: “Due to graduation and season-ending injuries, we return three players with varsity experience. Without a JV team for the last five years, we will have six starters learning the game both physically and mentally on the go. One week out and I still have no clue about five of the positions. Kelsey will keep us in every game with her arm, glove and bat. She’s our heart and soul. Kayley can crush the ball and she covers a couple of zip codes out in centerfield. Moira can throw the leather and is smoother then Sebago Lake in the morning at short. Defense is a huge question and the offense may be limited. Hopefully we can pick the game up quickly and sneak into the playoffs.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Greely caught fire at the end of last season and behind the arm of Spring Female Athlete of the Year and league all-star Currier and some potent and timely hitting, got to the final inning of the regional final before falling just short. This year’s squad is largely starting from scratch, but three superb building blocks suggest that the Rangers won’t be sneaking into anything.

Currier went a dazzling 15-4 with a 1.20 earned run average, striking out 129 batters a year ago. She thrives in the big moments and wields a potent bat as well, hitting .397 with nine doubles, three triples, three home runs and 18 RBI in 2016. Freshman Audrey Boyle will see time on the mound as well. Cimino has been a key contributor since her freshman year and not only plays excellent defense in centerfield, but she’ll anchor the middle of the lineup. Cimino, a first-team all-star in 2016, has power to all fields. Train is the other veteran. She was a second-team all-star last season and again will lead the defense at shortstop. She can get the job done on offense as well. Junior Madison Rawnsley and freshman Sawyer Dusch were vying for the catcher position at press time. Sophomore Taylor LaFlamme is a newcomer to watch. She could see time at several different positions.

Greely won’t be the favorite this spring, but overlook the Rangers at your peril. Yes, there will be growing pains and probably more losses than a year ago, but Currier will keep the team in every game and once Greely comes of age, it will again be very dangerous. Don’t be surprised if instead of sneaking into the playoffs, the Rangers enjoy another long stay.

BOYS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Mike Storey (sixth year, 37-28 overall record)

2016 record: 5-7 (no playoffs)

Top returning players: Billy Borden (Senior), Andrew Graham (Senior), Josh Lawless (Senior), Tim Coyle (Junior), Andrew Eckhardt (Junior), Ben Kennedy (Junior), Jackson Williams (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: May 6 YARMOUTH, May 13 @ Cheverus, May 17 CAPE ELIZABETH, May 20 THORNTON ACADEMY, May 26 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 30 @ Kennebunk, June 1 @ Falmouth

Coach’s comment: “We have a lot of guys coming back and a bunch of new guys will step in and contribute. We want to continue to climb the ladder. We’ve steadily improved as our schedule has increased in difficulty. We want to play the top teams. We want to break into that top group.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: After winning eight games five straight seasons, Greely had its 16-year postseason streak come to a close after it dropped its final four games last spring. The Rangers expect that to be an aberration, however, and like their chances to contend this season.

Eckhardt played in the Underclass All-Star Game last season. He’ll anchor the defense along with Graham and Borden, a long-stick middie, this spring. Coyle and Williams will have an opportunity to take faceoffs. Lawless will also be in the midfield and will be a top scoring threat, along with Kennedy. Senior Grady Wood, who was a long-stick middie last year, is the new goalie. The Rangers suffered a tough 11-10 overtime loss to Kennebunk in the opener, but that result suggests that they’ll be very competitive going forward.

Greely will score its share of goals and has some talent on the defensive end. The Rangers will be able to handle the teams at or near their level. It’s getting over the hump against the Cape Elizabeths, Falmouths and Yarmouths of the world that will ultimately determine how this group will be remembered.

GIRLS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Becca Koelker (fifth year, 26-27 overall record)

2016 record: 7-7 (Lost, 12-9, to Falmouth in Class B South semifinal)

Top returning players: Mariah Belisle (Senior), Katherine Leggat-Barr (Senior), Ellie Schad (Senior), Nettie Cunningham (Junior), Courtney Sullivan (Junior), Greta Van Curan (Junior), Jayme Morrison (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 26 @ Falmouth, April 29 MASSABESIC, May 3 @ Waynflete, May 5 KENNEBUNK, May 16 CAPE ELIZABETH, May 18 YORK, May 23 @ Yarmouth

Coach’s comment: “We graduated seven players, including all four defenders, so we’re young. We’ll do a lot of teaching early in the season. I do have some great athletes. It’s a great, motivated group to work with. Every year, we want to go a step further in the playoffs. We did that last year. It will be harder this year with our inexperience, but our girls are ready.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: A year ago, Greely got to the semifinals for first time in three seasons and while graduation took its toll (first-team league all-stars Kelsey Otley and Maggie Reed were among those who departed) the Rangers have the athletes to be very tough once again.

The offense will be paced this season by Cunningham, Leggat-Barr (who is also running track this spring), Morrison, Schad, Sullivan and Van Curan. Sophomore Brooke Clement, who returns to Greely from Hyde, will take draws. Defensively, Belisle will be the anchor along with freshman Ellie Holt, who will also see time on offense. Sophomore Mollie McDonald, who saw some key minutes a year ago, will be in goal. The Rangers opened with a hard-fought 9-8 win at St. Dom’s, behind four goals from Leggat-Barr.

Greely won’t have the benefit of slowly coming of age as its early schedule is daunting to say the least. The Rangers will learn from their growing pains and with their athleticism, It’s safe to say they’ll be a much stronger team in the second half of the season that at the onset. Greely will in fact, be a very dangerous foe when the games matter the most.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: John Folan (24th year, six state championships)

2016 results:

(Boys) Tie-9th @ Class B State Meet

(Girls) 3rd @ Class B State Meet

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Sam Bonnevie (Senior), Patrick Lyden (Senior), Max Stickney (Senior), Ben Wilson (Senior), Mike Geary (Junior), Gavin Poperechny (Junior), Sean Richard (Junior), Caleb Thurston (Junior)

(Girls) Lauren Williams (Senior), Lizzie Brown (Junior), Kate Curran (Junior), Chloe Smith (Junior), Chloe Waldrep (Junior), Skylar Cooney (Sophomore), Julia Curran (Sophomore), Maddy Irish (Sophomore), Maggie McCormick (Sophomore), Morgan Selby (Sophomore), Carolyn Todd (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “With 50 freshmen on the team, we are very young. We have enough returners from indoors to give folks a battle at the state meet. Depth will have to be our hallmark. Some of the newcomers have the ability to grow and contribute. Time will tell. Top four finishes for both teams at states would be a success.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Greely has some question marks as a new season dawns, but the Rangers will likely wind up near the top of the heap once again.

The boys’ squad returns Max Stickney from a state champion 4×800 relay team. He’ll be a top distance threat along with Lyden, Thurston, Wilson and sophomores Luke Marsanskis and Matt Todd. Sophomore Isaac Moore will compete in the middle distance. In the sprints, look for Richard, sophomore Luke Stickney and freshman Naveen Caron to lead the way. Poperechny is a hurdler to watch. On the field side, Bonnevie, Geary and sophomore Bryan Taylor look to score in the pole vault. Greely will have its hands full in the conference battling the likes of Falmouth, Yarmouth and York, but by the time the state meet rolls around, don’t be surprised if the Rangers are primed to make a move up the standings from last year’s finish.

On the girls’ side, Todd is a key returner. She was second in both the mile and two-mile a year ago and could move up this spring, although she’ll get a challenge senior Katherine Leggat-Barr, a longtime cross country and indoors standout, who is playing lacrosse in addition to running outdoor track this spring. Julia Curran, Kate Curran, Smith, Waldrep and freshman Marin Provencher provide depth in the longer races. Cooney (second in the 300 hurdles last season) will again be a top hurdler along with Selby, while the sprints will feature Irish. On the field side, Williams hopes to move up from her fourth-place showing in the high jump a year ago. McCormick was fifth in the pole vault as a freshman and also hopes for a higher finish. Brown will be a force in the jumps, while freshman Isabelle Boisvert is an up-and-coming vaulter. Greely will be competitive in a very deep Western Maine Conference. The Rangers have placed top four or better in every one of Folan’s previous 23 seasons. It’s likely that this group will produce enough depth to keep that streak alive.

BOYS’ TENNIS

Coach: Bert Kendall (12th year)

2016 record: 0-12 (no playoffs)

Top returning players: Ryan Weeks (Senior), Tim Kendall (Junior), Ryan Thompson (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “Last year, we struggled with a small team and didn’t win a match and this year, we are starting in the hole with only seven players. It will be difficult to field a team for some matches. We do have two pieces of good news. The first is that these are seven great young men who will play hard every match and that our eighth grade boys’ class has four or five good players who can play next year.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Greely has nowhere to go but up this spring and the Rangers have reason for optimism.

This season, Tim Kendall will be in the top singles spot. Beauchesne, Thompson and sophomore George Kendall are vying for the other two singles positions. Weeks will be a member of the first doubles team. Junior Nolan Pakulski and freshman Gavin Hines will be on the second doubles squad.

The Rangers will have their hands full against the elite teams in the league, but there will be many matches where they will be able to compete and if all goes well, win. The program’s future is looking bright. If some pieces fall into place, the present will be successful as well.

GIRLS’ TENNIS

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

2016 results: 7-6 (Lost, 5-0, to eventual state champion Cape Elizabeth in Class B South quarterfinal)

Top returning players: Kathryn Paré (Senior), Izzy Evans (Junior), Katie Steinberg (Junior), Jordan Bryant (Sophomore), Kaitlyn Thompson (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “We have 32 girls playing tennis this year and our talent pool is very deep. Our singles lineup is very strong. Kathryn and Izzy were key members of our state championship team two years ago and they’re looking to pick up where they left off. Our doubles teams are still up in the air, but we have eight very capable players fighting for four spots. We should be very competitive this season and hope to find ourselves toward the top of the standings when the year ends. This might be the toughest schedule I’ve seen here at Greely. We want to prove we belong as one of the top teams in the conference.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Greely’s two-year title reign came to a close a year ago, but the Rangers like their chances of getting back to the pinnacle this spring.

Evans will play first singles. Paré was a second-team all-star a year ago and will be in the second singles spot. Freshman Paige Evans projects to play third singles. The doubles teams will consist of Steinberg, Bryant, Thompson and new junior Lea Schupfer. On paper at least, the Rangers look as strong as anyone in their region.

Greely will be tested often during the regular season and even if it doesn’t boast the best record, by the time the Class B South playoffs begin, this group could be the one best equipped to make a title run. After a one-year hiatus, the Rangers are ready to return to the pinnacle. Don’t bet against them.

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

Senior Ryan Twitchell is one of the state’s best pitchers. He’ll look to lead Greely’s baseball team to another state title before taking his right arm to the University of Rhode Island.

Senior Dylan Fried is back behind the plate for the Rangers. He also will help pace the offense.

Senior Tate Porter is another key returner for the Rangers.

Senior Kayley Cimino is known for her powerful bat. She’ll crush her share of pitches this season.

Senior Moira Train is back at shortstop for the Rangers.

Junior Ben Kennedy will be a difficult matchup at attack for Greely’s boys’ lacrosse team.

Senior Katherine Leggat-Barr won’t only be one of the top players on Greely’s girls’ lacrosse team this spring. She’ll also compete in distance races for outdoor track.

Senior Ellie Schad is one of many scoring threats for the Rangers.

Sophomore Skylar Cooney is one of the conference’s top hurdlers.

Carolyn Todd was runner-up in both the Class B mile and two-mile as a freshman. She could have no peer this spring.

Senior Lauren Williams will be one of the conference’s top jumpers.

0
Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.