Greely Rangers Spring Sports Preview

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Senior Izzy Evans helped Greely’s girls’ tennis team to a Class B state title a year ago and was named to the All-Conference team. Evans and her teammates look to repeat this spring.

File photos.

More photos below.

BASEBALL

Coach: Derek Soule (19th year, 257-78-2 overall record, four state championships)

2017 record: 11-7 (Lost, 5-4, to Cape Elizabeth in Class B South quarterfinal)

Top returning players: Nate Cyr (Senior), A.J. Eisenhart (Senior), Eben Kiesow (Senior), Luke Miller (Senior), Will Neleski (Junior), Connor Sullivan (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 23 CAPE ELIZABETH, April 25 YARMOUTH, April 30 YORK, May 14 @ Yarmouth, May 21 @ Wells, May 25 @ Cape Elizabeth

Coach’s comment: “We’ll rely on three experienced pitchers and three regulars from last year’s lineup to set the tone early and hope the 11 newcomers to the varsity team develop quickly. With our young lineup, we hope to improve steadily, continue to adjust to varsity play and make the playoffs.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Greely fell in the quarterfinals last spring for the first time in five years. This season, the Rangers have some holes to fill, but will only get better as the season moves along.

While last year’s ace, Ryan Twitchell, is now at the University of Rhode Island, Greely has some arms in reserve who will help the cause. Look for Kiesow (2.27 earned run average last season), Neleski (3-2 with a 2.03 career ERA) and Sullivan (3.36 ERA) to see the majority of time on the hill. Cyr, along with newcomers Jacob Whiting and Jack Libby, will also get an opportunity to pitch. Miller will catch, as well as play in the outfield. Jake MacDonald and Aiden Smith will also see time behind the plate. Eisenhart is a stalwart at second base who can get on base with regularity (.453 on-base percentage in 2017). The most potent bats belong to Miller (who hit .306 a year ago, including a nearly .700 stretch late) and Neleski (who drove in 15 runs a year ago and this spring will play first base or be the designated hitter when he’s not on the hill). Other newcomers to watch include senior outfielders J.P. Sherr and Matt Strout, junior first baseman/outfielder Joe Cimino, junior second baseman Will Lyden, junior centerfielder Evan Wyman, sophomore shortstop Nick Butler and sophomore outfielder Harry McFarland.

Unlike many prior Greely editions, this squad will need a lot of seasoning, but it will be drastically improved between now and the beginning of June. The Rangers, as always, have enough pitching to be competitive. If the offense comes around and the defense is solid, Greely will be a factor in a balanced Class B South. Overlook this squad at your peril.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Rob Hale (fourth year, 39-16 overall record)

2017 record: 10-8 (Lost, 2-1, to Yarmouth in Class B South quarterfinal)

Top returning players: Kelsey Currier (Senior), Maddie Rawnsley (Senior), Taylor LaFlamme (Junior), Sawyer Dusch (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 13 WELLS, April 23 CAPE ELIZABETH, April 25 YARMOUTH, April 27 @ Gray-NG, April 30 YORK, May 7 @ Fryeburg, May 14 @ Yarmouth, May 21 @ Wells, May 25 @ Cape Elizabeth

Coach’s comment: “We have good kids. I’m optimistic. We have a completely new infield this year, but we’re athletic. Kelsey will keep us in every game. It’s a pretty competitive league as always with Wells a couple notches above everyone else. Hopefully we’ll make the playoffs and make some noise at the end.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Greely came a long way last season, reaching the playoffs for the 19th straight year, and even though the season ended with a disappointing loss to rival Yarmouth, the Rangers set the stage for even more success this spring.

A great pitcher can take you a long way in softball and Greely can rely on Currier, who was a second-team league all-star last spring, to set the tone. Currier is a top hitter as well and will come up with some big hits before leaving to play at Thomas College next year. Rawnsley returns behind the plate and will also be a top hitter. Dusch replaces Moira Train at shortstop. Junior Anna Smith, who was sidelined by a knee injury a year ago, will be at second base. LaFlamme returns to anchor the outfield in centerfield.

Greely has some holes to fill, but that’s the case with every contender in the region. Most teams don’t have the pitching the Rangers boast, however, so that should allow Greely to post another winning season and position itself to make some playoff noise. Like last year, look for this squad to get better as the season progresses and exceed expectations when all is said and done.

BOYS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Mike Storey (seventh year, 41-36 overall record)

2017 record: 4-8 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Tim Coyle (Senior), Andrew Eckhardt (Senior), Ben Kennedy (Senior), Will Schumacher (Junior), Jackson Williams (Junior), Jake Bernheisel (Sophomore), Malcolm Bourgeois (Sophomore), Ethan Fraser (Sophomore), Drew Lawrence (Sophomore), Schuyler Wetmore (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 12 YARMOUTH, April 24 @ Waynflete, May 11 @ Brunswick, May 16 NYA, May 22 @ Freeport, May 25 KENNEBUNK, May 30 @ Yarmouth

Coach’s comment: “We have a lot back. It’s a new look this year in Class B and that’s a good thing for us. We should be competitive. We have a tough schedule. We want to establish ourselves at the top of Class B.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Greely fell short of the playoffs last spring for the second year in a row, but this season, in a new-look Class B, the Rangers, who have a nice balance of experience and talented youth, could be one of the best teams.

Greely has some top-notch finishers up top, including Kennedy, Lawrence and Wetmore. Williams will take faceoffs and is part of a strong midfield contingent, which includes Coyle, Fraser and Schumacher. Eckhardt, a second-team league all-star last spring, anchors the defense along with Bernheisel and Bourgeois. Storey was unsure as to who would be in goal at press time.

The Rangers still face a difficult schedule, but they have what it takes to improve on last year’s win total. While Brunswick and Yarmouth are viewed as the favorites in Class B this year, Greely could be the team that everyone is talking about in June. This could be a fun season for the Rangers.

GIRLS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Becca Koelker (sixth year, 33-32 overall record)

2017 record: 7-5 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Nettie Cunningham (Senior), Courtney Sullivan (Senior), Greta Van Curan (Senior), Mollie McDonald (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 21 @ Kennebunk, May 2 WAYNFLETE, May 16 @ Freeport, May 18 SCARBOROUGH, May 24 @ Lake Region, May 30 @ Yarmouth, June 1 CAPE ELIZABETH

Coach’s comment: “We’re looking to build upon the work we started last season, as we return 12 players, nine starters. After an unsatisfactory finish to the 2017 season, the team is motivated to work hard and stay focused to push into the upper echelon of our division and go deeper into the playoffs. Our team has strong leadership. We have many different players who can put the ball in the back of the net on attack and opponents can expect to see a more active and unified defense. In past seasons, our program historically has one or two wins against top opponents.The question remains, can we maintain a strong enough work ethic and focus to make those wins a more common occurrence? With yet another challenging schedule, this team will be well-tested come tournament time.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Greely was victimized by being in a very deep and strong region a year ago, as despite boasting a winning record and despite beating nemesis Waynflete for the first time in 13 years, the Rangers didn’t qualify for the Class B South field. This time around, the complexion of Class B has changed and it’s likely Greely won’t just make the playoffs, it could go on a deep run.

Sullivan, Greely’s Winter Female Athlete of the Year after dominating during the Rangers’ run to the girls’ hockey state title, will look to spark the offense this spring from the draw circle. Sullivan will be tough to deal with anywhere on the field. Other potential scorers to watch include Van Curan, senior Jen Spencer, juniors Brooke Clement and Jayme Morrison, sophomore Ellie Holt and freshman Elsa Dean-Muncie. Cunningham is a stalwart on defense. She’s joined by juniors Jill Cass, Maddy Perfetti and Madi Scott. The goalie position was still being determined at press time. Several newcomers look for a chance to make their mark as well.

The schedule is full of competitive games and Greely figures to be tested just about every time out. With lacrosse going to three classes this spring, Class B is lumped into one region and what a region it is. Yarmouth remains the favorite, but contenders like Cape Elizabeth, Messalonskee, Waynflete and York also loom. The Rangers won’t have it easy, but this group has what it takes to navigate its tough slate and be in a position to make a deep playoff run. It’s been quite a school year for Greely female athletes. Look for the good times to continue on the lacrosse field.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: John Folan (25th year, seven state championships)

2017 results:

(Boys) 6th @ Class B State Meet

(Girls) Class B state champions

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Adam Bruder (Senior), Mike Geary (Senior), Sam Jagolinzer (Senior), Gavin Poperechny (Senior), Caleb Thurston (Senior), Darien Drouin (Junior), Luke Marsanskis (Junior), Isaac Moore (Junior), Bryan Taylor (Junior), Matt Todd (Junior), Riley Franklin (Sophomore), Atticus Smith (Sophomore)

(Girls) Elizabeth Brown (Senior), Acadia LeSiege (Senior), Chloe Smith (Senior), Chloe Waldrep (Senior), Lillian Benoit (Junior), Julia Bisson (Junior), Skylar Cooney (Junior), Julia Curran (Junior), Maddy Irish (Junior), Maggie McCormick (Junior), Morgan Selby (Junior), Carolyn Todd (Junior), Abby Civiello (Sophomore), Anya Davis (Sophomore), Marin Provencher (Sophomore), Emma Raven (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “Both teams could be top five in the state. How far up the ladder? Time will tell. One guarantee: They’ll work very hard for all they achieve.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: After sweeping the indoor track state titles, Greely is poised to steal more headlines outdoors.

The girls’ team is looking to go back-to-back in the spring for the first time since winning three in a row between 2001-03. The pieces are in place to do so. While distance standout Katherine Leggat-Barr will be missed, the Rangers still boast Todd (fifth in the two-mile and fourth in the mile in 2017), Smith (sixth in the 800 last season), Curran and Provencher. In the sprints, keep an eye on Benoit. Selby (300 hurdles champion, fifth in the 100 hurdles last year) and Cooney (fifth in the 300 hurdles, seventh in the 100 hurdles in 2017) are top hurdlers. In the field events, Brown is a top threat in the jumps. She was second in the high jump a year ago and hopes to take the top spot this spring. Brown is joined by Davis, Irish and Waldrep. Throwers of note include Bisson, Civiello (sixth last spring in the discus), LaSiege and Raven. McCormick is an elite pole vaulter (she placed third a year ago). The Rangers will be pushed by the likes of Gray-New Gloucester, Lake Region, Wells and York in the league and Brewer will be formidable at the state level, but Greely has enough firepower to again be the best of the best. A repeat crown won’t come easily, but don’t bet against the Rangers.

On the boys’ side, Marsanskis (third in the two-mile a year ago) is a top returner. He’ll lead a distance brigade which also includes Bruder, Franklin, Thurston, Todd and freshman Sam Wilson. Smith is a middle-distance runner. In the sprints, Geary is the top threat. Poperechny (sixth in the 300 hurdles and seventh in the 110 hurdles a year ago) and Jagolinzer are top hurdlers. In the jumps, keep an eye on Richard. Drouin and Taylor are top pole vaulters. This squad will be battling Yarmouth and York for top honors in the conference and has the necessary talent to finish in the top five at the state meet for the first time since 2011.

BOYS’ TENNIS

Coach: Bert Kendall (13th year)

2017 record: 0-12 (no playoffs)

Top returning players: Tim Kendall (Senior), Nolan Pakulski (Senior), George Kendall (Junior), Ryan Thompson (Junior), Jack Beauchesne (Sophomore), Gavin Hines (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “Our outlook is bright because of the large numbers this year  and the good mix of returners and three newcomers. That makes us two to three times more talented than last year when we didn’t win a match and had to forfeit points in two early matches for only playing with six players. If we can put the pieces together, we have a shot at making the playoffs for the first time in three years.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Greely has the potential to make quite a leap up the standings this spring in Kendall’s final season as coach (he’s announced he’s retiring at year’s end). The Rangers have reason for optimism.

Tim Kendall returns in the top singles spot. Senior Brandon George, who spent his junior year in France, will be at number two singles. Thompson is expected to move from first doubles to third singles. Beauchesne, Hines, George Kendall and Pakulski are all in the mix for doubles spots. A solid freshman class, featuring Carson Bell, Grant Dresnok, Chris Martucci, Ethan Sligh and Zach Wright, add depth.

Instead of struggling to fill out the lineup, this year’s Rangers will have plenty of athletes to rely on. That should lead to some victories and if all goes well, a shot at the playoffs. This program’s future is bright.

GIRLS’ TENNIS

Coach: Ben Caswell (sixth year, three state championships)

2017 results: 15-1 (Beat Caribou, 3-2, to win Class B state championship)

Top returning players: Izzy Evans (Senior), Jordan Bryant (Junior), Kaitlyn Thompson (Junior), Paige Evans (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “We had a very strong team last season and we only lost three players, so our outlook this year is a positive one. We know the target will be on our backs and we need to expect everyone’s best when we play them. With Izzy leading the team once again and Paige having a year of experience under her, I have a lot of confidence in our singles group. Although we have yet to determine who’s in that third singles spot, we have a strong group of candidates who will be fighting for it, as well as the four doubles positions. We have a few new faces who have the opportunity to earn a spot, which is going to lead to some great internal competition. At the end of the year, I hope we are one of the top teams once again.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Greely enjoyed a fantastic season a year ago, capturing its third state championship in four years. The Rangers did lose reigning Spring Female Athlete of the Year Kathryn Paré to graduation, but return enough talent to suggest another deep playoff run is in store.

Izzy Evans was a first-team league all-star a year ago and returns to play singles, along with Paige Evans. Bryant (a doubles all-star last season) will also be in a singles spot.  Thompson, Kristin Kendall, Taylor Meredith-Pickett, Katy Ray and Natalie Giroux will make up the doubles teams.

Greely doesn’t have to face Falmouth any more (the Yachtsmen are now in the SMAA), but the Rangers will have their hands full against teams like Cape Elizabeth, Waynflete and Yarmouth. Greely has what it takes to compete against everyone and it’s likely another very good record, a high seed and a run at yet another crown will be the end result.

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

Senior A.J. Eisenhart is a top hitter and fielder for the always-competitive Greely baseball team.

Senior Eben Kiesow will be one of Greely’s top pitchers.

Senior Kelsey Currier returns as Greely’s softball ace.

Junior Jackson Williams will be a top midfielder for Greely’s boys’ lacrosse team.

Junior Mollie McDonald returns in goal for Greely’s girls’ lacrosse team.

Gavin Poperechny and his Greely boys’ outdoor track teammates are hoping for big things this spring.

Senior Elizabeth Brown is a top jumper for Greely’s girls’ outdoor track team, the defending Class B state champion.

Carolyn Todd is a top distance runner for the Rangers.

Sophomore Paige Evans is another key returner for Greely’s girls’ tennis team.

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