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Deering Rams Spring Sports Previews

Sports

Deering Rams Spring Sports Previews

Deering should contend in several sports this spring. Baseball hopes to return to prominence. Softball has a new coach and a new outlook. Boys' lacrosse fell just short of the state final last season and should be on the short list of top contenders again. The girls' team also holds promise. Both track teams have athletes who can score big points. Boys' tennis had a phenomenal season and despite graduation losses, will be heard from. The girls' squad also hopes to be in the mix.

BASEBALL

Coach: Tim Eisenhart (second year, 4-12 overall record)

2012 Record: 4-12 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Dominic Martin (Senior), Nick Payne (Senior), Will Barlock (Junior), Mike Marzilli (Junior), Ben Peterson (Junior), Nick Bevilaqua (Sophomore), Sam Luebbert (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 25 (H) CHEVERUS, May 2 (H) WESTBROOK, May 14 @ Scarborough, May 21 @ South Portland, May 23 @ Portland, May 28 @ Westbrook

Coach's comment: “We have a great group of guys who love baseball. They have worked hard in the offseason and continue to do so during practice. I think their continued efforts will help them see more success this year and in years to come. Offensively, we trade power for consistency this year.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Coming off a season of transition which resulted in the program's first losing record since 1997, the Rams (who were in the mix until a seven-game losing skid to end the year) are ready to return to contention this spring. Eisenhart, assisted by Andrew Coulombe and Andrew Kinslow, is optimistic. This year's pitching staff will be paced by Payne, Luebbert and freshman Dan Marzilli. Martin, the catcher, might see some time on the mound as well. The infield features Payne or Peterson (an All-Rookie team selection last spring) at first base, Bevilaqua at second, Barlock at shortstop and freshman Pat Viola at third. Sophomore Kevin Goldberg, freshman Brandon Fletcher, Mike Marzilli, Payne and Peterson at times will be in the outfield. Sophomore Carlo Macomber also looks to make a mark. Barlock (.333, five RBI last season), Mike Marzilli, Martin and Payne project to be the top hitters. The graduation loss of staff ace and top hitter Nick DiBiase combined with the loss to injury of all-star Kenny Sweet will be felt, but this young nucleus is ready to make a name for itself. The Rams may take their lumps at times, but should be competitive with most of the league. An improvement on last year's win total is likely and a return to the postseason is certainly within the realm of possibility. It won't be long until Deering is a team that everyone in the SMAA fears once more.

SOFTBALL

Coach: John Moody (first year)

2012 Record: 0-16 (no playoffs)

Top returning players: Kiana DiBiase (Senior), Johanna Koster (Senior), Lindsay Sweeney (Junior), Erin Winschel (Junior), Jade Jordan (Sophomore), Riley Turner (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 22 @ Cheverus, May 1 @ Portland, May 24 (H) MCAULEY

Coach's comment: “We'll have a very young team. We have six freshmen on varsity. We hope to grow and do better than last year. I'm excited. We have good young kids and good returners. We look solid on defense. We hope to keep improving and turn it around.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Deering could be in store for quite a turnaround season. For starters, the Rams have a new coach this year, one with a very impressive resume. Moody spent nine seasons at Gray-New Gloucester, leading the Patriots to Class B championships in 2001 and 2003, then won five conference titles in six seasons at Southern Maine Community College. He served as a volunteer with the program last spring and is familiar with the roster. That roster is young, but there is a lot of upside. Junior Isabel Doughty, whose availability was limited in 2012, figures to see a lot of the innings, but freshman Kaitlyn DiBiase will also get an opportunity to shine on the mound. Senior captain Kiana DiBiase and Jordan will see time behind the plate. Turner (who is recovering from a finger injury) and Winschel anchor the infield. Koster (a captain) and Sweeney return in the outfield, where Winschel will also see time. Several others hope to make their mark between now and June. Clearly, the Rams have nowhere to go but up, but this team won't be happy just winning a game or two. They hope to contend with virtually every team they play, post enough victories to be in the playoff discussion for the first time since 2009 and set the stage for continued success going forward. This is a program that will soon be on the rise.

BOYS' LACROSSE

Coach: Jon Dubois (second year, 9-6 overall record)

2012 Record: 9-6 (Lost, 4-2, to Cheverus in Eastern Class A Final)

Top returning players: James Doyle (Senior), Billy Farrell (Senior), Brett Harmon (Senior), Rick Murray (Senior), Alec Halpin (Junior), Sam Hornblower (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 19 @ Portland, May 1 (H) SCARBOROUGH, May 10 (H) FALMOUTH, May 18 @ Greely, May 22 (H) TA, May 29 @ Kennebunk

Coach's comment: “We lost 10 seniors, including four All-Conference players and a two-time All-American. We lost about 75 goals and 275 ground balls. We definitely have a mountain to climb. The younger kids want to get as far into June as possible. We have some kids who will step up and surprise. We have a tough schedule. If we get through it, we have a shot to get back to the Eastern Maine Final and take another step. We might not hit our stride until the end of the season.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Deering is coming off the best two year stretch in its history, falling one win shy of the state final each time. Graduation hit the program hard as All-American and 2012 Spring Male Athlete of the Year Karl Rickett, along with SMAA all-stars Steve Doman, Matt Flaherty and Anthony Verville, all departed. While the Rams have their share of holes to fill, the cupboard is far from bare. Harmon and sophomore Fritz Gemmer look to replace Rickett in the faceoff circle. The offense figures to come largely from Farrell, Gemmer, Halpin (three goals in a season-opening 12-6 loss to Cheverus) Harmon and Murray (who scored twice against the Stags), with the hope that freshman Andrew Johnson will also pitch in. Doyle (a second-team all-star last spring) and Hornblower return on defense. Senior John Deloach will replace Nick Martin in goal. He saw limited time a year ago. Deering has a tough schedule, including a pair of very difficult crossover games, but the Rams hope to match last year's win total. They're also hoping to earn enough victories to make the playoffs. If Deering gets there, it could be very dangerous.

GIRLS' LACROSSE

Coach: Andrew Gordon (ninth year, 38-64-1 overall record)

2012 Record: 3-9 (no playoffs)

Top returning players: Nyalat Bilieu (Senior), Doris Juarez (Senior), Maddy Mazjanis (Senior), Sam Sivovlos (Senior), Lily Worthley (Senior), Casey Girsch (Junior), Heather Hodson (Junior), Lily O'Leary (Junior), Hannah Reidman (Junior), Juliana Salamone (Junior), Cole Spike (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 27 (H) MCAULEY, May 3 @ Cheverus, May 14 (H) PORTLAND, May 21 (H) SOUTH PORTLAND

Coach's comment: “I expect a similar season to last year. We'll have fun, win a few games and maybe flirt around the edges of the playoffs. We have some good athletes with decent speed, but have to work hard at both ends of the field in terms of preventing and scoring goals. We'll focus on teamwork and ball retention."

The Forecaster's forecast: Deering missed the playoffs for a fourth straight season last spring, but there is optimism around this year's squad. Gordon, who has been assisted by former Deering boys' coach Bob Rothbart while he recovers from offseason surgery, believes his squad has some firepower. Bilieu, Girsch, Hodson, Mazjanis, O'Leary, Salamone (an All-Rookie team selection last year), Sivovlos (who also handles draw controls and is terrific with the ball on her stick), Spike and freshman Emily Krabbe could score their share of goals. On defense, Juarez and Reidman have experience. Sophomores Erin Mathews and Madeleine Reid look to make a mark as well. Worthley returns in goal. The Rams will be able to compete with most teams on the schedule. A fast start would be a confidence builder. Deering looks to better last year's won-loss record (its last winning season came in 2007) and in a best case scenario could even be in the mix for a playoff berth. With the young talent on this roster, it's likely the Rams' best days are still to come.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Boys' coach: Gerry Myatt (first year)

Girls' coach: Kevin Olson (fourth year)

2012 Results:

(Boys) Tie-9th @ Class A state meet

(Girls) 20th @ Class A state meet

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Jared Bell (Senior), Josh Carland (Senior), Alex Hebert (Senior), Jordan Stebbins (Senior), Giles Holmes (Junior), Yahya Hussein (Sophomore)

(Girls) Whitney Adell (Senior), Sami Mack (Senior), Alexis Elowitch (Junior), Rashad Zagon (Junior), Chantrea El (Sophomore), Katie Farrell (Sophomore), Lizzy Fowler (Sophomore)

Top foes: Bonny Eagle, Cheverus, Sanford, Scarborough, TA boys; Bonny Eagle, Scarborough, TA girls

Coach Myatt's comment: “I'm happy with our numbers, but we could always use more. I'm hoping for big things from Jared. We hope that some guys will qualify for states. We'll score some points in a few places. We hope to have fun.”

Coach Olson's comment: “We're happy with our numbers this season. We have a lot of hard working athletes who are motivated and are ready to compete. We believe that this group will be a competitive team within our league and we know that everyone will perform at their highest level each time they step on the track.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Both Deering teams will be in the hunt this spring.

The boys' team features Winter Male Athlete of the Year Bell, one of the state's special throwers. Bell hopes to move up from his runner-up finish in the discus a year ago and add a shot put title. He might even be a factor in the javelin. Hebert also scored last year, in the 3,200 relay. He'll be joined in the distance races by Hussein and Stebbins. In the sprints, look for Carland (who will also throw the javelin), Holmes and sophomore Razel Gavin to contend. Holmes will also be a factor in the jumps. The Rams won't be mentioned with the top teams in the conference or state, but they'll turn some heads and if Bell repeats his indoor excellence outdoors, they'll finish in the top 10 at states for the second year in a row.

On the girls' side, Elowitch (third in the javelin) is the top returner. She'll also throw the shot put. Freshman Neilab Habibzai will also contend in the throws. In the jumps, Fowler, Zagon and senior Stephanie Sylvester will look to score. The sprint contingent features Adell, Farrell, Mack, Sylvester and freshman Simone Lauture. El, Farrell and Zagon are top hurdlers. In the distance, look for Fowler, junior Amanda LeMoult and freshman Sinead Scott and Megan Violette to turn heads. Deering is seeking its first top 10 state meet finish since 2001. With the athletes on this roster, June success, along with a strong regular season, is achievable.

BOYS' TENNIS

Coach: Regina Morton (fourth year, 25-16 overall record)

2012 Results: 13-2 (Lost, 3-2, to Gorham in Western A Final)

Top returning players: Antonio Macomber (Senior), Tyler Butler (Junior), Jordan LaRoche (Junior)

Pivotal matches: April 29 (H) GORHAM, May 3 (H) CHEVERUS, May 10 (H) SCARBOROUGH, May 20 (H) PORTLAND

Coach's comment: “We only have three players who saw limited varsity experience last year. Our team goal is to have fun and gain valuable match experience this year. We know this is a learning year and we intend to relax and make the most of it. Making the playoffs would be a bonus to us.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Deering is coming off its best season in nearly a decade, one which ended with a painful loss to eventual state champion Gorham. The Rams parted with all-star standouts Jesse Butler, Noah Finberg, Thomas Dean and Jamie Gullbrand but won't drop off the map. This year's team will lean on Tyler Butler, LaRoche and Macomber. Sophomore Kelvin Hyungh and freshmen Marshall Abbott, Isaac Finberg and Will Weeks will fill holes and look to gear up for future success. Deering should improve as the season progresses and could be dangerous by its end. If the Rams can get into the playoffs, they could be a force to be reckoned with.

GIRLS' TENNIS

Coach: Stephanie Doane (second year, 1-11 overall record)

2012 Results: 1-11 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Jazmine Abasta (Junior), Ava Koenigsberg (Junior), Fatuma Mohamed (Junior), Amina Dini (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: April 26 (H) SOUTH PORTLAND, May 3 @ Cheverus, May 10  McAuley, May 20 @ Portland

Coach's comment: “We have a young team this year. We're strong at singles.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Deering's run of 13 straight winning campaigns and postseason appearances came to an end last spring and now, the Rams are building their way back up the ladder. This year, Abasta, Koenigsberg and freshman Maddie Abbott will play singles. Dini and Mohamed will be factors in doubles. Deering's singles strength should lead to some victories. The Rams will be a contender and could, if all goes well, make a run back to the playoffs.

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

Photo: File photo

Junior shortstop Will Barlock is a top returner for a Deering baseball team hoping to make a run to the playoffs this spring.

Photo: Mike Strout / For The Forecaster

Alec Halpin is off to a hot offensive start for the Rams.

Photo: Mike Strout / For The Forecaster

Fritz Gemmer will help pace the Deering offense this spring.

Photo: Mike Strout / For The Forecaster

Brett Harmon is another top returner for the Rams.

Photo: File photo

Senior James Doyle is a top returning defender for the Rams boys' lacrosse team.

Photo: File photo

Junior Rashad Zagon is a top jumper and hurdler for the Rams and hopes to make a mark at the conference and state levels.

Deering spring schedules

BASEBALL

Fri., April 19 @ Massabesic

Tues., April 23 @ TA

Thurs., April 25 H CHEVERUS

Fri., April 26 H MARSHWOOD

Tues., April 30 @ Noble

Thurs., May 2 H WESTBROOK

Sat., May 4 H GORHAM

Tues., May 7 @ Biddeford

Thurs., May 9 H SANFORD

Sat., May 11 H BONNY EAGLE

Tues., May 14 @ Scarborough

Thurs., May 16 H WINDHAM

Tues., May 21 @ SP

Thurs, May 23 @ Portland

Sat., May 25 H KENNEBUNK

Tues., May 28 @ Westbrook

SOFTBALL

Fri., April 19 H MARSHWOOD

Mon., April 22 @ Cheverus

Wed., April 24 H WINDHAM

Fri., April 26 @ Westbrook

Mon., April 29 H BIDDEFORD

Wed., May 1 @ Portland

Thurs., May 2 H SP

Mon., May 6 @ Gorham

Wed., May 8 H BONNY EAGLE

Fri., May 10 @ Scarborough

Mon., May 13 H TA

Wed., May 15 @ Noble

Fri., May 17 H SANFORD

Mon., May 20 @ Massabesic

Fri., May 24 H MCAULEY

Tues., May 28 @ Kennebunk

BOYS' LACROSSE

Wed., April 17 @ Marshwood

Fri., April 19 @ Portland

Wed., April 24 H WESTBROOK

Fri., April 26 H BONNY EAGLE

Wed., May 1 H SCARBOROUGH

Wed., May 8 @ Windham

Fri., May 10 H FALMOUTH

Wed., May 15 @ Gorham

Sat., May 18 @ Greely

Wed., May 22 H TA

Wed., May 29 @ Kennebunk

GIRLS' LACROSSE

Tues., April 23 @ Windham

Thurs., April 25 H GORHAM

Sat., April 27 H MCAULEY

Mon., April 29 @ TA

Fri., May 3 @ Cheverus

Tues., May 7 @ Biddeford

Thurs., May 9 H NOBLE

Sat., May 11 @ Sanford

Tues., May 14 H PORTLAND

Fri., May 17 H BONNY EAGLE

Tues., May 21 H SP

Wed., May 29 @ Marshwood

BOYS' TENNIS

Mon., April 22 @ Windham

Wed., April 24 H MASSABESIC

Fri., April 26 @ SP

Mon., April 29 H GORHAM

Wed., May 1 @ TA

Fri., May 3 H CHEVERUS

Mon., May 6 @ Biddeford

Fri., May 10 H SCARBOROUGH

Mon., May 13 @ Sanford

Wed., May 15 @ Westbrook

Fri., May 17 H BONNY EAGLE

Mon., May 20 H PORTLAND

GIRLS' TENNIS

Mon., April 22 H WINDHAM

Wed., April 24 @ Massabesic

Fri., April 26 H SP

Mon., April 29 @ Gorham

Wed., May 1 H TA

Fri., May 3 @ Cheverus

Mon., May 6 H BIDDEFORD

Fri., May 10 @ McAuley

Mon., May 13 H SANFORD

Wed., May 15 H WESTBROOK

Fri., May 17 @ Bonny Eagle

Mon., May 20 @ Portland