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Freeport Falcons Spring Sports Preview

Spring Sports Previews

Freeport Falcons Spring Sports Preview

Optimism is in the air at Freeport High School this spring as several teams expect to contend for playoff berths. Baseball started the season with a huge victory and feels it will be in the mix all year. Softball welcomes a new coach and is primed for a run. Boys' lacrosse returns some very good players. The girls' team is shooting for a postseason appearance. The track program has solid numbers, including several individuals who will do well at the conference and even state level. Boys' tennis got an infusion of talent in the offseason and the girls' team welcomes a new coach, one well known to the community.

BASEBALL

Coach: Hank Ogilby (13th year, 71-125 overall record)

2011 Record: 5-11 (no playoffs)

Top returning players: Chris Farley (Senior), Kaleb Farmer (Senior), Zach Greene (Senior), Jared Knighton (Senior), Pat LaFlamme (Senior), Luke LaMagna (Senior), Josh Weirich (Senior), Sawyer Williams (Senior), Dan Burke (Junior), Connor Dietrich (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 23 @ Cape Elizabeth, April 27 @ Falmouth, May 7 @ Greely, May 14 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 16 @ Wells, May 21 (H) FALMOUTH, May 23 @ Yarmouth

Coach's comment: “We have essentially our whole starting lineup back. We have a very strong senior class with a strong supporting class of juniors. Last year, I felt we underachieved. I felt we should have been 8-8. We need to be better able to begin our games ready to play and compete hard for seven innings. I feel our defense and hitting should be solid. For the first time in five years, our numbers are very healthy and we have depth at every position. Our pitching staff is deeper than last year and we'll start the season with a 'pitching by committee' approach until we see how players perform. Our conference is very competitive. Our goal is to compete in every game and try to sneak into the playoffs. So far, our seniors have shown great desire and leadership and all the pieces are in place to have a great season.”

The Forecaster's forecast: This could be the year Freeport breaks through and becomes a serious contender in Western Class B and reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2004 season. The year got off to a great start last week with an 11-1 five inning win over Yarmouth, which was a regional finalist each of the past two seasons. In that one, Williams and Weirich combined to throw a no-hitter. Farmer had three hits and LaMagna two, including a bases loaded double as part of a nine-run first inning uprising. The victory was the Falcons' first over the Clippers in five tries. Freeport is well equipped to build on that triumph and keep the good times rolling. While the loss to graduation of Spencer Egan (now pitching at Middlebury College), who ate up 44 innings in 2011 hurts, there are plenty of arms in reserve. Williams (2.58 earned run average last spring) has already demonstrated he has what it takes to be the ace. Burke, Dietrich, Farmer, junior Nick Cartmell and newcomers Calen Cyr and James Purdy (the football standout) will also see time on the mound with Weirich in the closer's role, ready to slam the door. Knighton has experience behind the plate and is also the leadoff hitter. Offensively, LaMagna is coming off an all-star season which saw him hit .442. Farmer hit over .300 last season and will play first base and designated hitter. Dietrich (.300-plus average his freshman and sophomore seasons), who will play shortstop, is on the brink of stardom. Cartmell, Farley, Greene, LaFlamme, Weirich and Williams are also in the hitting mix. Niko DiFazio, Cole Harrison, D.J. Mooney and Brian Rhea are in supporting roles. While Freeport might not yet be at the level of the top teams in the conference, it should battle every time out and win its share of games. The pieces are in place, they confidence has been established and now, the Falcons just have to go out, outscore the opposition and make it to the postseason. The guess here is they'll do that very thing.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Carrie Green (first year)

2011 Record: 6-10 (no playoffs)

Top returning players: Dani Perry (Senior), Leigh Wyman (Junior), Lexi Dietrich (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 23 @ Cape Elizabeth, April 27 @ Falmouth, May 7 @ Greely, May 14 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 21 (H) FALMOUTH, May 23 @ Yarmouth, May 25 (H) FRYEBURG

Coach's comment: “We hope to gain confidence in our ability to be a competitive force in the league. I believe I have a very talented group of girls that will pull off some big wins this season.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Freeport has a new coach this spring in Green, who played at the University of Maine, This is her first varsity job. She takes over a team that's very close to turning the corner. The Falcons battled Yarmouth (which won 14 games last spring) for seven taut innings in their opener last week before falling, 4-3. Efforts like that will turn into victories as the season progresses. Freeport has an ace on the mound in Wyman, now in her third year as starter. She was a first-team all-star and the school's Spring Female Athlete of the Year in 2011. She only allowed three hits in the opener and wields a potent bat as well (doubling and tripling in the first game). Jessica Perry is in the catcher's spot. Dani Perry (centerfield), Dietrich (first base) and Andrea Grant are also capable of doing good things at the plate. The Falcons just need to learn how to win. The talent is in place for that to happen. Look for this team to steadily improve during the season and be in position to not only make the postseason, but perhaps make a run in June.

BOYS' LACROSSE

Coach: Geoff Arris (fourth year, 20-19 overall record)

2011 Record: 6-6 (no playoffs)

Top returning players: Dylan Arris (Senior), Ryan Camp (Senior), Evan Hench (Senior), Alex Sturtevant (Senior), Griff Breer (Junior), Galen Simmons (Junior), Isaak Dearden (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: May 5 @ Waynflete, May 8 @ Yarmouth, May 15 (H) GREELY, May 23 (H) NYA, May 30 (H) WAYNFLETE

Coach's comment: “I think we'll be stronger on offense once everyone figures out that they don't need to be the man to run down and score every time. I hope we'll be more productive. Last year, we went 6-6, which wasn't what we expected. I'm hoping to improve on our record and hopefully make the tournament.”

The Forecaster's forecast: After successive trips to the semifinals, the Falcons fell short of the playoffs last spring. That should be an aberration. Even though the program lost two-time Spring Male Athlete of the Year Hans Pope to graduation, there are some solid returners who will keep Freeport in most games. Sturtevant is back for a fourth year in goal. He's a co-captain, reigning honorable mention all-star and will stand tall. Co-captain Camp anchors the defense. New junior Clayton Morrison will handle faceoff duty. It will take a balanced approach to replace Pope's offensive production. Arris (a co-captain), Breer, Deardon, Hench (a co-captain) and Simmons will all get involved. The Falcons opened with a 9-2 loss at Greely. Once the offense gets up to speed, they'll be able to hang with every foe on the schedule. Freeport will be in the playoff hunt and could make a run once it gets there.

GIRLS' LACROSSE

Coach: Karin Kurry (fourth year, 17-21 overall record)

2011 Record: 6-6 (no playoffs)

Top returning players: Jess Hench (Senior), Becca Lane (Senior), Alex Mitch (Senior), Katie Turner (Senior), Jocelyn Davee (Junior), Molly Lane (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 24 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, April 26 (H) NYA, May 1 @ Greely, May 8 (H) WAYNFLETE, May 12 (H) SOUTH PORTLAND, May 15 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 29 (H) GREELY

Coach's comment: “We have more girls playing this year. I think it will be a good season with many close, exciting games.”

The Forecaster's forecast: The Falcons, who graduated just two players from last season, have a nice mix of returners and newcomers this spring and they could be in for a trip to the postseason if all goes well. The 2012 season began with a hard-luck 12-11 loss to York last week, after Freeport failed to hold an 11-6 lead. Sophomore Meredith Broderick led the way with four goals, Mitch had three, Hench two and Davee and sophomore Bethanie Knighton once each. Becca Lane will also be involved on the offense. That balance will pay off as the season progresses. Davee and Hench will handle draw controls, looking to give the team possession. Freshman Emily Johnson (last seen starring in the winter on the ice) also joins the fun and will be heard from. Molly Lane (14 saves in the opener) is back in goal. Turner anchors the defense in front of her. Freeport should be able to compete with just about every team on the slate. Once the close losses turn into wins, look out. This group could be very dangerous if and when it turns the corner.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: Brian Berkemeyer (fourth year)

2011 Results:

(BOYS) Tie-23rd @ Class C state meet

(GIRLS) no score @ Class C state meet (sixth in Division II @ WMC meet)

Top returning athletes:

(BOYS) Alex Campbell (Senior), Thomas Dodge (Senior), Taylor Saucier (Senior), Mark Donahue (Sophomore), Ethan Roney (Sophomore), Harrison Stivers (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Abby Roney (Senior), Ciera Wentworth (Junior), Elly Bengtsson (Sophomore), Hayley Steckler (Sophomore)

Coach's comment: “Our distance runners look very promising. We look forward to another successful season. We continue to grow. We should have some solid individuals in the state meet. Physical fitness is our goal with an emphasis on individual growth and commitment. We have a great group of kids who have bought into the program.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Both Freeport outdoor track teams have athletes you'll be hearing from in the weeks to come.

The boys return state meet scorers Saucier (fifth in the 800) and Stivers (seventh in the 400). They'll both be very dangerous in the middle distance and distance events. Donahue also competes in the mile. Campbell and Roney are racewalkers. Dodge sprints and competes in the high jump. Freshmen Matt Francis (800 and mile), Tyler Julian (sprints and jumps), Thomas Lawrence (distance), Zach Merrill (middle distance) and Nick Wilson (sprints and jumps) add depth. The Falcons will hold their own in the regular season and have the athletes who can score points in June.

On the girls' side, Roney is a seasoned sprinter. Bengtsson (Freeport's Winter Female Athlete of the Year) and Wentworth, along with new senior Emily Martin, will run the middle distance and distance races. Steckler is a sprinter. She's joined by sophomore Kelsey Grant and freshmen Emily Morang and Margo Ruby. This time around, the Falcons could find a way to register some points at states.

BOYS' TENNIS

Coach: Jay Harper (12th year, 53-85 overall record)

2011 Results: 2-10 (no playoffs)

Top returning players: Abrim Berkemeyer (Junior), Landon Easler (Junior), Connor McLellan (Junior), Chris West (Junior)

Pivotal matches: April 24 @ Greely, April 25 (H) NYA, April 30 (H) FRYEBURG, May 3 @ NYA, May 7 (H) GREELY, May 9 (H) YARMOUTH, May 11 @ York, May 18 @ Yarmouth, May 23 (H) YORK

Coach's comment: “I'm excited to have a solid No. 1 join our lineup out of nowhere. Our freshmen are very good. We have a shot this year. At least we feel like we do. Cape and Falmouth are ridiculously good. We have to beat the Greelys, Yorks and Fryeburgs of the world. We hope to have a decent season.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Freeport has some exciting new players this spring that should help the Falcons increase their win total and make a run at the postseason. Leading the way is junior Julius Kruse, a German exchange student, who projects to play first singles. Freshmen Caleb Abbott and Ryder Bennell will be the second doubles team. Berkemeyer and West return and will be in the No. 2 and No. 3 singles spots, respectively. Easler and McLellan will play on the first doubles squad. Freeport has the talent to compete against all but the most dominant teams. If the new players perform as expected, it will be a very good season for the program. The Falcons last posted a winning record and made the playoffs in 2006. This squad could end both of those droughts.

GIRLS' TENNIS

Coach: Chris Nordenson (first year)

2011 Results: 2-10 (no playoffs)

Top returning players: Kayley Johnson (Junior), Sophie Smith (Junior), Natalie Jortner (Sophomore), Katie McClelland (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: April 30 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 2 (H) YARMOUTH, May 11 (H) NYA, May 16 @ Falmouth, May 18 @ Waynflete, May 21 (H) GREELY

Coach's comment: “We're a new-look team with a first-year coach and we play in a tough conference. I'm not sure what the outcome of the season will be. We'll just try to improve every day and go from there. The team is very close and very driven. We have a very athletic group. I have a lot of faith in this team's ability to grow throughout the season.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Freeport welcomes a new coach this spring in Nordenson, who was a standout for the school's boys' team from 2001-2003. He still competes locally and has been a youth instructor. He inherits a team that has solid returners and some intriguing newcomers. Co-captains Johnson and Smith, along with McClelland, will likely be in the singles spots. Jortner is penciled in for first doubles. Senior Jacqueline Bischoff and freshman Lauren Carter also project to play doubles. Seniors Kaia Johansen, Anna Katharina Scheffler and Mara Stechno and freshmen Isabel Ainsworth and Monica Pallin add depth. The Falcons could be a program on the rise and should be able to compete with most foes. A little early success would go a long way. Freeport may still be a year or so away from playoff contention, but anyone underestimating this squad will come to regret it.

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

Photo: File photo

Junior ace Leigh Wyman returns for the Freeport softball team, which is eyeing a playoff spot.

Photo: File photo

Senior Taylor Saucier will be among the conference's best distance runners this spring.

Photo: File photo

Junior Elly Bengtsson, fresh off another dominant ski season, will run distance for the Freeport girls' outdoor track team this spring.