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Greely Rangers Spring Sports Preview

Sports

Greely Rangers Spring Sports Preview

Once again, Greely has several spring sports teams capable of earning June glory. Baseball is always at the top of the list of Class B contenders and this pitching-rich squad is no exception. Softball is coming off a surprising trip to the state final and this year's group hopes to finish the job. Boys' lacrosse is primed to join the upper echelon, while the girls' team might just be a darkhorse in a very tough region. Outdoor track boasts its usual array of top-notch runners, jumpers and throwers. Boys' tennis looks to bounce back, while the girls' team will be in the playoff hunt, perhaps all the way to the end.

BASEBALL

Coach: Derek Soule (15th year, 202-58-1 overall record, two state championships)

2013 record: 16-2 (Lost, 5-1, to eventual champion York in Western Class B semifinals)

Top returning players: Tommy Buchholz (Senior), Mike McDevitt (Senior), Sam Porter (Senior), Connor Russell (Senior), Bailey Train (Senior), Will Bryant (Junior), Miles Shields (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 25 KENNEBUNK, May 7 YARMOUTH, May 9 @ Falmouth, May 12 @ York, May 14 CAPE ELIZABETH, May 23 FALMOUTH, May 28 YORK, May 30 @ Kennebunk, June 2 @ Cape Elizabeth

Coach's comment: “We have a strong pitching staff that will keep us in most of our games. We expect to make the playoffs and contend for a state title.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Greely has won 58 games over the past four seasons, but hasn't been able to reach the pinnacle in Class B. Last spring, the Rangers were frustrated by the eventual champions, then said goodbye to ace Jonah Normandeau, as well as seven others. Regardless, this edition could be as good as any in recent vintage and once again, Greely's dominance begins on the hill with a staff that has no peer. Train, a captain, bound for the University of Massachusetts when the season ends, is a four-year starter and a reigning first-team league all-star and Spring Male Athlete of the Year. Last season, Train went 5-2 on the mound with a 1.31 earned run average. He struck out over a batter per inning and showed great control with just 12 walks. Russell, a captain, who has committed to play at Bates College, is even more prolific. He went 6-0 last season with an 0.82 ERA, fanning 60 in 34 innings and was named to the all-conference second-team. Bryant, a second-team all-conference selection last season, went 2-0 with a 1.53 ERA and 25 strikeouts to just four walks. He'll play an even bigger role this season. McDevitt, Porter, the team's third captain, and senior southpaw Alex McAdoo will also see time on the hill. That pitching unit will set the tone for what should be another stellar campaign. The Rangers will certainly hold opposing offenses at bay. If they can score consistently, they'll be almost unstoppable. The offense is paced by Train, who hit .435 with 20 runs scored, 25 RBI and five doubles, two triples and five home runs last year. He might not see many pitches to hit in the weeks to come. Bryant (.341, six doubles, 14 RBI in 2013), Shields (.412, 23 runs, 11 RBI and 14 steals during a first-team all-conference season last year) and McDevitt (.379, nine RBI last year) are also proven commodities with the bat. Buchholz (seven steals in 2013) and Porter are also in the mix. Junior Reid Howland will move into the catching role. Freshman Dillon Fried will also see time behind the plate. Senior Joe Saffian (outfield/designated hitter) and sophomore Calvin Soule (second base/shortstop) are other newcomers to watch. With Falmouth out of the playoff picture this spring (the Yachtsmen will be in Class A due to increased enrollment), Greely's chances of going all the way seem even better, but the Rangers know as well as anyone that nothing is guaranteed come June. This team does have all the ingredients necessary to be a champion, however, and there's a very good chance that after several heartbreaks, this season will be the one with a happy ending.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Jessica Brady (second year, 15-5 overall record)

2013 record: 15-5 (Lost, 8-1, to Oceanside in Class B Final)

Top returning players: Elyse Dinan (Senior), Mykaela Twitchell (Senior), Haley Felkel (Junior), Audrey Mann (Junior), Miranda Moore (Junior), Charlotte Benoit (Sophomore), Miranda Eisenhart (Sophomore), Lexi Faietta (Sophomore), Sarah Felkel (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 23 FRYEBURG, May 9 @ Falmouth, May 14 CAPE ELIZABETH, May 19 @ Fryeburg, May 21 @ Gray-NG, May 23 FALMOUTH, June 2 @ Cape Elizabeth

Coach's comment: “The girls are amazing me every day. I can put them 1 through 9 anywhere. I'm really lucky. We won't need to control the game from the mound like Dani (Cimino) did last year. We'll be more of an offensive team. The girls have made such growth. It's really mouth dropping. It's nice to be a part of. We should have a very successful year.

The Forecaster's forecast: The Rangers had the second most successful year in program history a season ago, as its Cinderella run didn't come to an end until the state game. That group lost Cimino, its ace and Greely's Spring Female Athlete of the Year, to graduation, but almost everyone else is back, with a couple key additions helping the cause. Replacing Cimino on the mound will be Moore and freshman Kayley Cimino. Mann will be behind the plate. The infield features Twitchell at first, Sarah Felkel at second, Winter Female Athlete of the Year and reigning first-team league all-star Dinan at third and freshman Moira Train at shortstop. That's an athletic and talented group. In the outfield, Benoit, Cimino, Eisenhart, Faietta and Haley Felkel (a second-team all-star last season) will all see time. Fryeburg remains a power, although Greely has finally slain that dragon. Cape Elizabeth and Gray-New Gloucester also appear very strong and several other foes will be dangerous, but the Rangers are as loaded as anyone from top to bottom. Now that this group has learned how to win in June, it's hungry to get back to the state final and finish what last year's team started. If the pitching comes along, a championship might be the end result.

BOYS' LACROSSE

Coach: Mike Storey (third year, 16-10 overall record)

2013 record: 8-5 (Lost, 16-7, to Falmouth in Western Class B semifinals)

Top returning players: Andrew Benger (Senior), Griffin Doree (Senior), Tim Adams (Junior), Gabe Belisle (Junior), Sam Doolittle (Junior), Mitchel Mullin (Junior), Harry Shain (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 30 NYA, May 2 YARMOUTH, May 13 @ Kennebunk, May 20 CAPE ELIZABETH, May 28 @ Falmouth, May 31 @ NYA, June 5 KENNEBUNK

Coach's comment: “I'm pleased with where we're at. We returned a good amount. It's a strong group. I think we're going to be in the mix. Our underclassmen are coming of age. We're strong on both sides of the ball. I like that we're playing the top teams. I think that will help us. Cape and Falmouth have ruled the West for so long. We think we can start breaking down the door. We're excited.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Greely is viewed as a very dangerous team this spring. While the Rangers are stuck in a brutal region with arguably the two best teams in the state, they feel they're ready to take the next step. This year's team will turn to Belisle to get possession as the faceoff man. The scoring figures to come from the likes of Mullin (an Underclass all-star last spring), Adams, Doolittle and senior Gwynn Zambello. Senior midfielder Will Peck will also be in the mix. On defense, Benger and Shain have experience and are joined by junior Ryan Pomeroy. Doree returns in goal. The Rangers have a lot of talent and are hungry to improve. Greely will post a winning record, but this team will be judged on whether or not it can take the next step. It won't be easy, but the opportunity is there. Just how much Greely improves between now and June will determine whether it's capable of reaching the regional final for the first time since 2008.

GIRLS' LACROSSE

Coach: Becca Koelker (second year, 9-4 overall record)

2013 record: 9-4 (Lost, 17-10, to Cape Elizabeth in Western B semifinals)

Top returning players: Jill Booth (Senior), Gabby Bouchard (Senior), Cameron Keefe (Senior), Sarah Kurland (Senior), Eliza McKenney (Senior), Teal Otley (Senior), Sara Piwowarski (Senior), Krystyna Rybka (Senior), Jocelyn Mitiguy (Sophomore), Kelsey Otley (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 30 KENNEBUNK, May 2 @ Yarmouth, May 14 @ Falmouth, May 16 MASSABESIC, May 21 WAYNFLETE, May 24 @ Freeport, May 28 CAPE ELIZABETH, May 31 @ Kennebunk, June 3 FALMOUTH

Coach's comment: “Things are looking really good. We have a big senior class and everyone's following their lead on and off the field. We lost six starters, but we're really well balanced. We've moved up a tier in level of competition. Matching last year's record is a realistic goal. We should be competitive with everybody.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Koelker's first season was a rousing success as Greely posted a winning record for the first time since 2007. Now, the Rangers are hoping to advance even deeper in the playoffs and despite being in a brutally tough region, are capable of doing so. Greely has ample athletes and not only returns many top players, it welcomes some key newcomers as well. The offense figures to be paced by Keefe and Teal Otley, who also take draw controls. Booth, Bouchard, Mitiguy and freshman Katherine Leggat-Barr will also be heard from. On defense, Kurland, McKenney, Piwowarski and Kelsey Otley have experience. They're joined by sophomore Maggie Reed. Rybka returns in goal. The Rangers will score their share of goals. If the defense can hold its own, this team will be able to contend with everyone, including top regional foes Waynflete (the two-time defending Class B state champion), Cape Elizabeth and new-to-Class B Kennebunk. Greely last won a postseason game in 2008. This might be the year the Rangers win more than one and really make noise.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: John Folan (21st year, six state championships)

2013 results:

(Boys) 6th @ Class B State Meet

(Girls) 4th @ Class B State Meet (WMC meet champions)

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Sam Parkinson (Senior), Dan Ray (Senior), Weston Taylor (Senior), Ryder White (Senior), Malik Black (Junior), Chris Byron (Junior), Troy Cochran (Junior), Ben Ingraham (Junior), Ben Ray (Junior), Kyle Hansen (Sophomore), Eric Light (Sophomore), Chris Perry (Sophomore)

(Girls) Emma Nicholson (Senior), Kirstin Sandreuter (Senior), Eva Bates (Junior), Hannah Keisman (Junior), Emily Mason (Junior), Madison McKenney (Junior), Sophie McMonagle (Junior), Julia Ramseyer (Junior), Lucy Wetzel (Junior), Alyssa Casarez (Sophomore), Siana Emery (Sophomore), Samantha Pynchon (Sophomore), Sophia Stickney (Sophomore)

Top foes: Falmouth, Lake Region, York

Coach's comment: “The boys are led by a deep and solid distance crew, with potential in the jumps and vault. Depth is very much a concern. The girls fill out the events fairly well and have depth. There is potential to be a good team. Both teams will be a lot better late than early.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Greely will only get better in the weeks to come and both teams will be heard from at the biggest meets.

The boys return a few scorers from last year's state meet. Dan Ray was part of a runner-up 3,200 relay team and will be a top distance runner this spring, along with Cochran, Hansen, Parkinson, Rog, Taylor and White, who participated on a fifth-place 1,600 relay team last June. Freshman Max Stickney is another distance runner to watch. In the middle distance, Byron and Light are looking to score. The sprints feature Perry, who scored in the 1,600 relay last season. On the field side, top jumpers include Black and Ingraham. Ben Ray pole vaults. This squad has the pieces in place to contend throughout and to post a strong finish at the Western Maine Conference meet and wind up in the top 10 in the state for the seventh consecutive season.

On the girls' side, Sandreuter is the top returner. She was second in both the mile and two-mile last spring and will make a run at the top spot. Other distance runners of note include Bates, Mason, Nicholson, Ramseyer and Stickney. New juniors Emily Follett and Kristina Smith will also be heard from. Emery will be a force in the racewalk (she was sixth in Class B last season). Keisman, fourth in the 300 hurdles last spring, is a top sprinter this year and will be joined by McKenney and freshmen Jamie Keisman and Emilee McGillicuddy. On the field side, Casarez is the top returner as she continues Greely's strong throwing legacy. Casarez came in third in the discus and fifth in the shot put a year ago. McMonagle and Wetzel pole vault. Pynchon will be the top jumper The Rangers will have their hands full with several top league foes, but will only get better. By the postseason, several girls will be ready to make a run at top finishes. The last time Greely didn't finish in the top 10 of a state meet, the year was 1980. Look for that dazzling history to continue.

BOYS' TENNIS

Coach: Bert Kendall (ninth year, 41-62 overall record)

2013 record: 2-10 (no playoffs)

Top returning players: Liam Dougherty (Senior), Pete Hurley (Senior), Nick Ray (Senior), Mitchell Day (Junior), Chris Goding (Junior), Nick Piacentini (Junior)

Pivotal matches: April 29 KENNEBUNK, May 3 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 5 WAYNFLETE, May 8 FALMOUTH, May 16 @ Falmouth, May 22 @ NYA

Coach's comment: “We doubled our victories last year and hope to more than double those victories and get back into the playoffs. Unfortunately, our numbers are down, so we hope to attract more young players. We have a great group of young men and we're looking forward to a successful season.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Last season was challenging to say the least for the Rangers as Kendall suffered a heart attack prior to the campaign and teaching pro Chuck Pine filled in prior to joining this year's team as an assistant. While Greely missed the playoffs for the fourth year in a row, it did learn how to persevere and that lesson could pay off this season. Kendall's back healthy and likes what he has to work with. This year's team will be led by new number one singles player Ben Jagolinzer, a junior who played baseball the past two springs. Hurley will be in the second spot with sophomore Blaine Ventre playing third singles. Dougherty and Ray will likely see time at doubles, while Day, Goding, Piacentini and new senior John Donahoe and junior Jack Pacent are also in the mix. It's a new dawn for the coach and the program and optimism abounds. If things come together as hoped, for the first time since 2009, the Rangers should be competing in a postseason match.

GIRLS' TENNIS

Coach: Ben Caswell (second year, 10-4 overall record)

2013 results: 10-4 (Lost, 5-0, to Cape Elizabeth in Western Class B semifinals)

Top returning players: Allie Eaton (Senior), Sarah Gooch (Senior), Anna Collins (Junior), Jessie Hoffman (Junior), Sam Kennedy (Junior), Mia Lambert (Junior), Brooke Lawrence (Sophomore), Alex Tebbs (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: May 3 CAPE ELIZABETH, May 5 @ Waynflete, May 8 @ Falmouth, May 12 YARMOUTH, May 15 @ Yarmouth, May 22 NYA

Coach's comment: “This is the largest team we've had in years with 28 girls on the roster. We hope to have a successful season and make it far in the playoffs. We lost a couple key players from last year, but overall, we're returning the majority of the team. I hope the girls see the opportunity in front of them with Falmouth moving up to Class A. The field is wide open and we hope to be fighting for a Class B title in the end.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Greely has produced consecutive double digit victory seasons for the first time in program history and after being ousted in the semifinals each of the past two years, is looking to advance even deeper in the playoffs. Eaton is the top returner. She was a league all-star last season and was in the running for a top singles spot at press time. Collins, Gooch, Hoffman, Kennedy, Lambert, Lawrence and Tebbs are other players to watch, while new sophomore Jana Brunnemann and freshman Kathryn Pare hope to make a splash. The opportunity is there for the Rangers. The unbeatable juggernaut from the next town over is now in Class A for the playoffs. If Greely can continue to build and improve, it might be able to do something it's never done before. Get to and win a state championship match.

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

Photo:

Senior Connor Russell is one of Greely's aces this spring. The Bates College-bound Russell hopes to lead the Rangers to their first state title in five seasons.

Photo: Michael Strout

Senior captain Sam Porter will be in the middle of the action this season.

Photo: Michael Strout

Sophomore Sarah Felkel is coming off a strong freshman softball season. She'll play a key role again this spring.

Photo: Michael Strout

Junior catcher Audrey Mann is one of many Rangers who wields a potent bat.

Photo:

Junior Miranda Moore will help Greely win this spring with her arm and her ability to run the bases.

Photo: Michael Strout

Junior Mitch Mullin could be a top scorer for a Greely boys' lacrosse team hoping to join the upper echelon this spring.

Photo: Michael Strout

Senior Andrew Benger will be a top defender for the Rangers.

Photo: Michael Strout

Senior Teal Otley will be in the middle of the action for Greely's girls' lacrosse team this season, taking draws and likely scoring a lot of goals.

Photo: Michael Strout

Senior Cameron Keefe is another key returner for the Rangers.

Photo: Michael Strout

Senior Krystyna Rybka returns in goal for the Rangers.

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Junior Hannah Keisman will be a top sprinter for Greely this spring.

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Senior Kirstin Sandreuter, one of the state's special distance runners, is back for one final high school season.