Spring Athletes of the Year
Cape Elizabeth Capers Spring Athletes of the Year
(Ed. Note: This story will appear in our July 13 southern print edition)
Male Athlete of the Year:
WILL LEBLOND, Senior-Baseball
ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND CITATIONS
* WMC All-Conference, second-team, pitcher
LeBlond lived up to his “Big” nickname and then some this spring, helping the Capers make a stunning playoff dash that fell one run shy of the state final. He was dominant on the mound, had several clutch hits and was at his best with the season on the line in June.
LeBlond grew up in Cape Elizabeth and was introduced the game at an extremely young age.
“I had a mini glove in my crib,” LeBlond said.
He started playing organized ball in T-ball and began pitching at the age of 10. LeBlond needed some encouragement to make the most of his physical attributes.
“I've been blessed with size, but I've had to work hard,” LeBlond said. “I was lazy and out of shape in middle school. My grandfather got me going. I worked out with some good athletes.”
After seeing limited varsity action as a freshman and sophomore, LeBlond started to make his presence felt as a junior. He went 5-2 on the hill and was named to the All-Conference second team.
This spring, LeBlond, who also played four years of golf and two of hockey, was the most experienced returner for a program which had been hit hard by graduation. His leadership proved natural and between the lines, he led the Capers to an unexpectedly strong campaign.
LeBlond opened the season with a two-hit, seven-strikeout performance in a win over Old Orchard Beach. He also had two hits, including a double, and drove in three runs in that game. That set the tone, but there would be many more highlights to come. LeBlond threw a four-hitter in a win over Gray-New Gloucester, fanning 10 in the process. He blanked York on eight hits, had a pair of hits in a win over Wells, scored the winning run while also earning the victory in an eight-inning triumph over Fryeburg, had a pair of hits against Waynflete and threw four innings of scoreless relief to earn a win in an eight-inning triumph over Poland in the regular season finale.
Cape Elizabeth went into the postseason ranked ninth in Western B, but LeBlond dug up articles from the 2008 season, when a similarly ranked Capers squad put it all together and made an unexpected run to the state final, reminding his teammates what was possible.
This year's team followed suit as LeBlond blanked Freeport on four hits, striking out six in the preliminary round. After Cape Elizabeth shocked top-ranked, reigning regional champion Greely in the quarterfinals, a game in which LeBlond hit a key double, he took the ball again at Yarmouth in the semifinals and wound up going 10 innings before the Capers finally prevailed. In that win, LeBlond allowed just seven hits while throwing over 100 pitches and he even picked off a couple Clippers runners to squash rallies. Cape Elizabeth's run finally ended with a heartbreaking 1-0, eight-inning loss to Falmouth in the Western B Final.
For the season, LeBlond went a dazzling 7-2 with a minuscule 0.83 earned run average. In his 59 innings, he struck out 43 batters, had a (walks plus hits per innings pitched) of 1.14 and picked off six runners.
At the dish, he hit .281, scored 10 times, drove in 11 runs and had five doubles.
LeBlond also mentored middle schoolers and incoming freshmen, volunteered with the Cape Elizabeth Little League and was a member of the school's Math team. He's spending the summer with the Scarborough-based Libby Mitchell American Legion squad and will attend Ithaca College in the fall, where he hopes to play baseball. LeBlond is interested in journalism (he spent the latter part of his senior year job shadowing a sportswriter from the Portland Press Herald) and ultimately would love to broadcast hockey.
LeBlond has a very bright future and his exploits in a Capers uniform will long be remembered.
Coach Chris Hayward’s comment: “We liked having 'Big' on the mound. Will is just easy to coach. He wants to listen. He made himself better every day. He was important in our playoff run. He did a great job leading. He came a long way from freshman year when he was all over the place. That came through hard work. He can throw off-speed. He changes speeds for strikes. He buys into what we've taught him. He's very good.”
2011 winner: Cam Brown (Baseball)
2010 winner: Ben Brewster (Lacrosse)
2009 winner: Andrew Guay (Baseball)
2008 winner; Zach Belden (Lacrosse)
2007 winner: Pat Murphy (Baseball)
2006 winner: Evan Bagley (Lacrosse)
2005 winner: Brett Brown (Lacrosse)
2004 winner: Garret Currier (Tennis)
2003 winner: Alex Weaver (Lacrosse)
2002 winner: Mike DiFusco (Lacrosse)
Female Athlete of the Year
LAUREN STEIDL Junior-Lacrosse
ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND CITATIONS
* All-American All-Academic
* WMC All-Conference, first-team
Steidl joined classmate Talley Perkins to make up an unstoppable offensive tandem for the best regular season team in the state this spring. She scored goals with abandon, didn't hesitate to set up her teammates and was also one of the best in the draw circle.
Steidl grew up in the lacrosse hotbed of Baltimore and started playing lacrosse at the age of six. Steidl, along with classmates Perkins and Jane Coffrin, started on the Cape Elizabeth varsity as a freshman.
“Since we have been playing with one another for so long, we work very well together,” Steidl said. “Talley has been a great friend for me and is an awesome player. We've helped each other become better. I think our relationship has been a big factor in our individual success.”
It didn't take long for Steidl to emerge as a star. As a sophomore, despite an injury-plagued campaign, she had 22 goals and eight assists and was a second-team All-Conference selection.
This spring, she was among the very best the state of Maine had to offer.
Steidl, who also plays field hockey, set the tone with five goals in a season-opening win over Greely. She had four goals versus Freeport, six against Gorham, five goals and two assists in the Capers' first win over defending Class B champion Yarmouth this century, three goals in a second win over Greely, four in an upset win over three-time Class A champion Scarborough, six in a second win over eventual state finalist Freeport, three versus Fryeburg, four against Wells, three against York and in a scintillating regular season finale win at Falmouth, which locked up the top seed in Western Class B, Steidl had three goals, two assists, seven ground balls and 15 draw wins.
Cape Elizabeth scored 18 goals in a semifinal round playoff win over Greely, as Steidl accounted for 10 of them, scoring seven, while adding three assists. In a regional final showdown for the ages versus perennial powerhouse Waynflete, Steidl scored three times, added two assists, seven ground balls and 13 draw wins. The Capers led almost the whole way in that one, but wound up suffering an agonizing overtime defeat.
“I feel that everyone had the right attitude this year,” said Steidl. “There was not a single person who wasn't fully committed to doing whatever it took to get our team to states. Many of us practiced hard all year long and especially in-season. We also came in early as a team, before scheduled practices, to work on stick work. Looking back, I think we really worked together toward a single goal.”
For the season, Steidl had 58 goals, 26 assists, 44 draw wins, 14 ground balls and nine turnovers. She was honored as one of the top players in the conference and was also Cape Elizabeth's first ever All-American selection.
Steidl, who has played club lacrosse for Maine Select in middle school, MAINEiax and also Sky Walkers out of Maryland, credits University of Southern Maine women's coach Lauren Reid and Capers coach Jeff Perkins for helping elevate her game.
Steidl is also active in theater. She was in the show, “Find Me,” which was second in the state and first alternate to the New England Regional One Act Festival.
Steidl has already verbally committed to Princeton University, where she'll play lacrosse at a top level.
First, she'll have a chance to build on this year's excellence, earn another mention on the All-American team and perhaps lead the Capers to an elusive state championship. Steidl's skills make absolutely anything possible.
Coach Jeff Perkins' comment: “This was Lauren's breakout year, which was no surprise to anyone familiar with girls' lacrosse in Maine. She was a force on the offensive end. She always showed composure and was a calming presence for the rest of the team during games. Lauren is a joy to coach, always willing to do whatever was asked of her. She was a true leader in many ways. She would help the younger players during practice and was very supportive during games. She is a true student of the game, always watching college games to see what she could learn and asking questions about how she could improve her game.”
2011 winner: Elin Sonesson (Lacrosse)
2010 winner: Gabe Donahue (Softball)
2009 winner: Colleen Martin (Softball)
2008 winner: Trish Thibodeau (Softball)
2007 winner: Maureen Kertes (Softball)
2006 winner: Clare Egan (Track)
2005 winner: Elise Moody-Roberts (Track)
2004 winner: Dana Riker (Track)
2003 winner: Leslie Harrison (Track)
2002 winner: Anna Lombard (Lacrosse)