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Freeport Falcons Spring Sports Previews

Sports

Freeport Falcons Spring Sports Previews

Freeport enjoyed a strong spring in 2012 and has optimism entering a new year. Baseball is coming off its best season in almost a decade and while graduation hit the program hard, a winning culture has been established and the Falcons expect to compete. Softball welcomes a new coach and looks to win a few more games to make the postseason. Boys' lacrosse hopes for a bounce-back season and has the pieces in place to do so. The girls' team is coming off its best season ever, which resulted in a trip to the state final. That group is looking to get back and to finish the job. Outdoor track continues to grow and features some strong athletes. Boys' tennis hopes to get back to the playoffs, while the girls' team like its chances to improve.

BASEBALL

Coach: Hank Ogilby (14th year, 76-136 overall record)

2012 Record: 10-7 (Lost, 4-0, to Cape Elizabeth in Western Class B preliminary round)

Top returning players: Dan Burke (Senior), Connor Dietrich (Senior), Cole Harrison (Senior), James Purdy (Senior), Brian Rhea (Senior), Niko DiFazio (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 22 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, April 24 @ York, April 26 (H) FALMOUTH, April 29 (H) YORK, May 6 (H) GREELY, May 13 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 20 @ Falmouth, May 22 (H) YARMOUTH

Coach's comment: “We really enjoyed a great year last year. We graduated nine seniors and several of them were four-year starters for us.  We have a lot of holes to fill. The good news is that we have a pretty solid pitching staff and have several excellent players returning, most significantly our entire infield. Defense and pitching can take a baseball team a long way and I believe that we have both of these.  We also have good depth and experience and in Connor, one of the best players in the conference. I'm excited about the season and am very much looking forward to working with these seniors one last time. This group of seniors is talented and hardworking, but more importantly, they consistently demonstrate all the dedication, character and integrity you could ever want in a high school athlete. They are truly outstanding young men.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Freeport enjoyed a fantastic 2012 campaign, posting its first winning record since 2004 and making it to the playoffs for the first time since that season. Graduation did hit the Falcons very hard, as a pair of first-team league all-stars, centerfielder Luke LaMagna and pitcher and 2012 Spring Male Athlete of the Year Sawyer Williams, along with honorable mention all-stars Kaleb Farmer and Josh Weirich, departed. Four-year starting catcher Jared Knighton and utility player Zach Greene were also among the 10 players who have moved on. On the glass half full side, there are good players returning, with some new kids eager to make their mark. Shortstop and pitcher Dietrich (a second-team league all-star and one of the program's top players of recent vintage), third baseman/pitcher Burke (a potential top hitter), second baseman DiFazio and senior first baseman Nick Cartmell (who was injured much of 2012, but who could be a top hitter this spring), make up a formidable infield. Rhea is back and will be behind the plate. Strong hitters Harrison (outfield) and Purdy (pitching, outfield) also have experience. Senior Brandon Williams, an infielder who missed last year with injury, is seasoned as well. Ogilby will turn to several of last year's junior varsity players to step in and contribute. That list includes senior centerfielder Brady Davis, senior left-handed pitcher/outfielder Calen Cyr, junior catcher Nick Nelsonwood and sophomore pitcher/infielder Pete LaMagna (whom Ogibly believes has the ability to rake). Also looking to contribute will be senior second baseman Thomas Cyr, senior infielder Erick Ferraras (a potentially strong bat), senior outfielder Gage Golding and freshman pitcher/infielder Jack Davenport (another potential star in the making). Freeport's biggest question mark going into the season is offense. If the runs come, however, the wins will too. The Falcons dropped their opener, 5-2, at Yarmouth, which should be one of the league's best teams. In that one, DiFazio had two hits and scored both runs, Davenport ripped a pair of hits and Burke and LaMagna threw well. Freeport should be able to compete with the many good teams on its schedule. While the Falcons don't have quite as much firepower as a year ago, they don't anticipate a big drop in production and should be in the playoff hunt. This squad might be in the position to turn some heads come June.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Mike Perry (first year)

2012 Record: 6-10 (no playoffs)

Top returning players: Hannah Chase (Senior), Helen Humphrey (Senior), Leigh Wyman (Senior), Jess Perry (Junior), Vanessa Lee (Junior), Lauren Cormier (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 22 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, April 26 (H) FALMOUTH, May 3 (H) GRAY-NG, May 6 (H) GREELY, May 13 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 20 @ Falmouth, May 22 (H) YARMOUTH May 27 @ Fryeburg

Coach's comment: “We hope to continue to build from last year and turn the corner. We need to get a big win against a top opponent early in the season. If we can do that, we can set the tone for the whole year.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Freeport has fallen short of the postseason 10 years running, but that drought could come to a close this spring. The Falcons are coached this year by Perry, who served as an assistant with the team a year ago. He has some talent to work with, including first-team league all-star Wyman, who returns as the ace for one final season. Perry is the catcher. Wyman and senior Necole Harrison (infield) figure to pace the offense. Chase (infield), Cormier (infield), Humphrey (outfield) and Lee (outfield) all have experience. Senior outfielder Amanda Miles is a new player to watch. Freeport will have its chances early to make a statement against some of the league's better teams (it did drop its opener to Yarmouth, 5-1). The Falcons know that Wyman will be consistent on the hill. If the bats can come through, the wins will follow (five of last year's losses came by one or two runs). Freeport is close to moving up the ladder. This could be the spring that the Falcons win more than they lose and get to play a game in June.

BOYS' LACROSSE

Coach: Geoff Arris (fifth year, 22-29 overall record)

2012 Record: 2-10 (no playoffs)

Top returning players: Griff Breer (Senior), Ryan Camp (Senior), Sam Farrar (Senior), Clayton Morrison (Senior), Galen Simmons (Senior), Tucker Troast (Senior), Jake Perry (Sophomore), Sam Wogan (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 20 (H) GREELY, April 24 @ York, May 4 (H) WAYNFLETE, May 7 (H) YARMOUTH, May 15 @ Greely, May 24 (H) YORK, May 29 @ Waynflete

Coach's comment: “I truly think that we're a different team this year and are putting in the hard work to improve our record and attitudes. Our offense is working really well together and I think there are a lot of guys who will step up and make things happen. The defense looks very solid and with a freshman goalie leading us, I expect great things. Numbers always haunt our team, but we have a large group of seniors and an even bigger group of freshmen. There's a lot of potential for underclassmen to fill spots.”

The Forecaster's forecast: After several seasons of contention, Freeport took a step back last spring, as a season-ending five game skid, featuring three close defeats, sealed its doom. This year's squad has a new outlook and expects to improve. Perhaps dramatically. The offense will feature Breer (three assists in 2012), Farrar (three goals, two assists last season), Morrison (12 goals, six assists), Simmons (eight goals, six assists), Wogan (six goals, two assists) and sophomore Ramsay Dodge doing the lion's share of the scoring. Morrison and senior Jordan Roy will handle faceoff duty. New senior Parker Matheson is a midfielder to watch. The defense is led by Camp, Perry and Troast. Freshman Zac Wogan replaces four-year starter Alex Sturtevant in goal. Arris believes that Wogan will make an immediate impact and could be a four-year starter himself. The schedule is favorable in the sense that Freeport will be able to compete with just about everyone. If the Falcons can produce steady offense and the defense is able to allow Wogan to settle in to the job in goal, they'll win their share of games. After last year's struggles, this squad is due for a return to contention.

GIRLS' LACROSSE

Coach: Karin Kurry (fifth year, 25-28 overall record)

2012 Record: 8-7 (Lost, 16-5, to Waynflete in Class B state final)

Top returning players: Jocelyn Davee (Senior), Dayze Gaulin (Senior), Meredith Broderick (Junior), Bethanie Knighton (Junior), Molly Lane (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 23 @ NYA, April 25 @ Cape Elizabeth, April 29 @ Greely, May 7 @ Waynflete, May 14 (H) NYA, May 30 (H) GREELY

Coach's comment: “We're hoping to build on our success from last year. We hope to improve on our regular season record.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Freeport made history a year ago, stunning defending champion Yarmouth with a come-from-behind rally capped by an overtime triumph in the regional final to make it to the state final for the first time in the Maine Principals' Association-sanctioned era. While the Falcons hung tough for a half, they were ultimately no match for powerhouse Waynflete, but the program put itself on the map and Kurry earned Coach of the Year honors. Freeport graduated six seniors, including league all-stars Jess Hench and Alex Mitch (who was also named Spring Female Athlete of the Year). The good news is there is plenty of talent coming back and the Falcons will have a shot at repeating as regional champions. This year's offense figures to be paced by Broderick and Davee, who is enjoying a fabulous senior season (including a Fall Female Athlete of the Year mention). The return of senior sparkplug Aubrey Pennell, injured last season, to the attack position, will bolster the offense. Gaulin and Knighton will also be heard from, as will new freshmen Courtney Broderick and Nina Moore. Davee and sophomore Elizabeth Martin will handle draw controls. Lane returns in goal. Freeport won't sneak up on anyone this season, but it won't have to. The Falcons have experienced winning and now believe they can compete. While the departed players' influence will be missed, this group is ready to establish its own identity. One that it hopes includes more winning and time spent playing in the month of June. Perhaps even an encore trip to Fitzpatrick Stadium.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: Brian Berkemeyer (fifth year)

2012 Results:
(BOYS) Tie-9th @ Class C state meet
(GIRLS) 17th @ Class C state meet

Top returning athletes:
(BOYS) Mark Donahue (Junior), Braden Marstaller (Junior), Harrison Stivers (Junior), Eric Wentworth (Junior), Tyler Julian (Sophomore), Zach Merrill (Sophomore), Nicholas Wilson (Sophomore)
(GIRLS) Ciera Wentworth (Senior), Elly Bengtsson (Junior), Kelsey Grant (Junior), Emily Morang (Junior), Hayley Steckler (Junior)

Coach's comment: “We continue to grow. We now have over 50 kids participating. We have added 21 freshmen. We continue to be a young team, but this year, we have a great core of seasoned qualifiers. A few students who did well indoors are bringing their skill to outdoor. We'll be strong in the running events. We continue to grow and hopefully with the addition of a track at the high school, we'll become competitive in every event. It will be fun to see who develops. As always, we view track as a sport for all. We want to see everybody improve and feel confident with their ability and effort.”

The Forecaster's forecast: The Freeport program continues to grow in size and stature and this season, the Falcons have some athletes who will be heard from.

The boys return state scorers Stivers (part of a first place 3,200 relay team and runner-up in the 400) and Merrill (part of the relay champion). Stivers is looking to win the 400 this season and will also compete in the 800. Merrill will focus on the 800 and the mile, as will Donahue. Marstaller could be strong in middle distance. Julian, Wentworth and Wilson are top sprinters. Freshmen Eric Brobst (800, mile) and Darnel Strother (shot put) are new names to file away. Merrill also throws the javelin. Freeport has what it takes to hold its own against some tremendous competition in the regular season and to make a run at another top 10 finish at states.

On the girls' side, several scorers return. Grant was sixth in the 200 and seventh in the 100 last season. She's a top sprinter and will also throw the javelin. Steckler was seventh in the 400 and scored in two relays a year ago. She'll join Grant in looking to produce top results in the sprints. Wentworth (seventh in the 800) is a top distance runner. Bengtsson (part of a seventh-place 1,600 relay team a year ago) will also be heard from. Morang looks to score in the middle distance. Junior Lexi Dietrich and freshman Chloe Hight hope to step in and make their mark in the sprints. There is some top-end talent on this squad, suggesting some big things might be in store for the Falcons in the weeks to come.

BOYS' TENNIS

Coach: Jay Harper (13th year, 57-94 overall record)

2012 Results: 4-9 (Lost, 3-2, to Lincoln Academy in Western Class B quarterfinals)

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

Pivotal matches: April 23 (H) GREELY, April 24 @ NYA, May 1 (H) YARMOUTH, May 3 (H) YORK, May 10 (H) NYA

Coach's comment: “We gained some valuable experience in the playoffs last season and lost little to graduation. We didn't lose much from last year and we have four seniors, so expectations are high, but playing in this conference is not easy and it's tough to get wins that give you Heal Points.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Freeport snapped a five-year playoff drought last spring and should be one of the middle-tier contenders in Western B again. The Falcons feature a freshman, Nathan Small, in the top singles spot. Berkemeyer (a second-team league all-star in 2012) returns at No. 2 singles and West, another veteran, is at third singles. Easler and McLellan, along with sophomores Caleb Abbott, Callum Gould and Winter Male Athlete of the Year Ryder Bennell, are vying for doubles spots. While the Cape Elizabeths, Falmouths and Waynfletes of the world are at another level competitively, Freeport has several other pivotal matches against teams it can beat. The Falcons hopes to build on last year's triumph and should be more confident entering the season. This squad has what it takes to produce another strong season and playoff berth.

GIRLS' TENNIS

Coach: Chris Nordenson (second year, 2-10 overall record)

2012 Results: 2-10 (no playoffs)

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

Pivotal matches: April 23 @ Greely, April 29 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 10 @ NYA

Coach's comment: “This team has definitely matured from last year and is more focused. I have my top four girls back and two returning captains. I expect us to fight for every match. I hope we can surprise some people. I think this team is definitely stronger and it's going to be a really fun and exciting spring. ”

The Forecaster's forecast: The Falcons could be on the verge of a move up the standings this spring. McClelland, a captain, was projected at press time to be back in the top singles spot. Smith, a captain, will likely be in the No. 2 singles position. Johnson, another captain, will either play third singles or first doubles with Jortner. Senior Laura Beilfeldt is also in the hunt for third singles or first doubles. Carter returns at second doubles and will likely team with sophomore Monica Pallin, who saw limited varsity time last season. Sophomores Isabel Ainsworth, Lindsey Dealman and Hannah Williams also look to crack the doubles lineup. This program is growing and the future appears bright. If Freeport can win a few matches against teams at their level, they'll be a factor and could even make a run at a playoff berth. This is a program to keep an eye on.

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

Photo: File photo

Senior third baseman Dan Burke is another top returner for the Falcons baseball team.

Photo: File photo

Senior Leigh Wyman returns as Freeport's pitcher for one final season. She'll be one of the best in the league.

Photo: File photo

Sophomore Jake Perry returns on defense for the Falcons boys' lacrosse team.

Photo: File photo

Junior Elly Bengtsson is back as a top runner for the Falcons.

Freeport Spring Schedules

BASEBALL

Mon., April 22 H CAPE ELIZABETH

Wed., April 24 @ York

Fri., April 26 H FALMOUTH

Mon., April 29 H YORK

Wed., May 1 @ OOB

Fri., May 3 H GNG

Mon., May 6 H GREELY

Wed., May 8 @ Traip

Fri., May 10 @ Poland

Mon., May 13 @ Cape Elizabeth

Wed., May 15 H WELLS

Thurs., May 16 H LAKE REGION

Mon., May 20 @ Falmouth

Wed., May 22 H YARMOUTH

Mon., May 27 @ Fryeburg

SOFTBALL

Mon., April 22 H CAPE ELIZABETH

Wed., April 24 @ York

Fri., April 26 H FALMOUTH

Mon., April 29 H YORK

Wed., May 1 @ OOB

Fri., May 3 H GNG

Mon., May 6 H GREELY

Wed., May 8 @ Traip

Fri., May 10 @ Poland

Mon., May 13 @ Cape Elizabeth

Wed., May 15 H WELLS

Thurs., May 16 H LAKE REGION

Mon., May 20 @ Falmouth

Wed., May 22 H YARMOUTH

Mon., May 27 @ Fryeburg

BOYS' LACROSSE

Sat., April 20 H GREELY

Wed., April 24 @ York

Sat., April 27 @ Gorham

Wed., May 1 @ Fryeburg

Sat., May 4 H WAYNFLETE

Tues., May 7 H YARMOUTH

Sat., May 11 H WINDHAM

Wed., May 15 @ Greely

Mon., May 20 H WELLS

Wed., May 22 @ Lake Region

Fri., May 24 H YORK

Wed., May 29 @ Waynflete

GIRLS' LACROSSE

Tues., April 23 @ NYA

Thurs., April 25 @ Cape Elizabeth

Sat., April 27 H WINDHAM

Mon., April 29 @ Greely

Thurs., May 2 H FRYEBURG

Tues., May 7 @ Waynflete

Sat., May 11 @ South Portland

Tues., May 14 H NYA

Tues. May 21 @ York

Thurs., May 23 H WELLS

Thurs., May 30 H GREELY

BOYS' TENNIS

Tues., April 23 H GREELY

Wed., April 24 @ NYA

Mon., April 29 @ Cape Elizabeth

Wed., May 1 H YARMOUTH

Fri., May 3 H YORK

Tues., May 7 H FRYEBURG

Wed., May 8 @ Fryeburg

Fri., May 10 H NYA
Mon., May 13 H LAKE REGION

Wed., May 15 @ Falmouth

Thurs., May 16 @ Waynflete

Mon., May 20 @ Lake Region

GIRLS' TENNIS

Tues., April 23 @ Greely

Wed., April 24 H OOB

Mon., April 29 H CAPE ELIZABETH

Wed., May 1 @ Yarmouth

Fri., May 3 @ York

Mon., May 6 @ OOB

Wed., May 8 H FRYEBURG

Fri., May 10 @ NYA

Mon., May 13 @ Lake Region

Wed., May 15 H FALMOUTH

Thurs., May 16 H WAYNFLETE

Mon., May 20 H LAKE REGION