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Deering Rams Spring Sports Preview

Spring Sports Previews

Deering Rams Spring Sports Preview

The Deering spring athletic program has a lot of new faces, but there are still a lot of good athletes, which means the Rams will be in the playoff hunt in several sports. Baseball has a new coach and while much of last year's talent departed, there's always good players in reserve, something the rest of the league will learn in the weeks to come. Softball also has a new coach and looks to improve and perhaps make a run to the playoffs. Another team with a new coach is boys' lacrosse, which is coming off the best season in program history. Girls' lacrosse has the same coach and looks to improve. Both track teams feature standout talent. Boys' tennis will be one of the better teams in the region. Girls' tennis, under a new coach, also looks to play beyond the regular season.

BASEBALL

Coach: Tim Eisenhart (first year)

2011 Record: 13-4 (Lost 7-5 to Marshwood in Western Class A quarterfinals)

Top returning player: Nick DiBiase (Senior)

Pivotal games: April 26 (H) TA, April 28 @ Westbrook, May 3 @ Windham, May 15 @ Marshwood, May 17 (H) SCARBOROUGH, May 22 (H) CHEVERUS, May 24 (H) SP, May 26 @ Portland

Coach's comment: “I hope our players commit to making this a memorable year. To do this, we expect them to get better with every swing, ground ball and pitch in every practice and game. Hard work and commitment will hopefully allow us the opportunity to play some extra games after the regular season is over.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Deering is in uncharted waters this spring, not wearing the bulls-eye as favorite for the first time this millennium. Don't weep for the Rams, however, you have to believe they'll find a way. The program has its third coach in many seasons as Eisenhart takes over. He's no stranger to school (a 1989 DHS graduate and standout ballplayer) or the league (coaching in Westbrook from 2003 to 2007). Eisenhart played at Clarkson University and has also served a private hitting pitching instructor at Frozen Ropes and the coach of the Falmouth Legion and Junior Legion program. He inherits a team that lost 10 accomplished seniors (led by Sam Balzano, the league's leading hitter and Winkin Award winner as Mr. Maine Baseball). DiBiase (the lone key returner after Jamie Gullbrand decided to play tennis) will have to lead the way on the mound. Last year, he appeared in six games, going 2-2 with a 4.02 earned run average and 27 strikeouts. He was also a force at the dish, hitting .391 with 18 hits, including four doubles, a triple and a home run, while driving in 13 runs. New seniors Luke Boyle and Tim Swenton, juniors Dominic Martin and Kenny Sweet and freshman Sam Luebbert add depth. Senior Trey Thomes, best known for his work on the gridiron, joins the squad and will be in centerfield. Senior Dominic Arris should also make some key contributions. Jared Bell will also be a force with the bat. There's no sugar coating it, Deering will face a learning curve this spring, but this program has set the bar for excellence for well over a decade and won't drop off the map easily. The Rams will ride DiBiase as far as he can take them and should improve dramatically between now and the end of the May. If Deering is able to extend its postseason streak to 15 seasons, it will be a team that no one will relish facing.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Greg Goan (first year)

2011 Record: 3-13 (no playoffs)

Top returning players: Crystal Archibald (Senior), Sara Brink (Senior), Nicole Mason (Senior), Caley Presby (Senior)

Pivotal games: April 23 (H) CHEVERUS, May 2 (H) PORTLAND, May 4 @ South Portland, May 11 (H) SCARBOROUGH, May 14 @ Thornton Academy, May 25 @ McAuley

Coach's comment: “I really don't have any expectations as a first year coach as I'm getting to know the players and system. So far, I'm impressed with their work ethic and willingness to learn. It's a great group, but with limited numbers of girls in the program, my goal is to match players to positions so we can be as competitive as possible.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Goan, the new coach, was an umpire for 25 years at the high school and college level before taking over the program. He inherits a team that should be more competitive than last year. Archibald, Mason and newcomer Izzy Doughty will handle the pitching. The offense is paced by Mason (an honorable mention all-star last season), Archibald, Brink and Presby. Kiana DiBiase (catcher), Rylie Turner (outfield) and Erin Winschel (shortstop) are new and project to step right in and help the cause. Deering will compete in most of its contests and a few early victories would go a long way to helping the confidence level. By the end of the year, the Rams should be much more confident and skilled and with a little luck, could wind up in the postseason for the first time since 2009.

BOYS' LACROSSE

Coach: Jon Dubois (first year)

2011 Record: 12-2 (Lost 9-5 to Lewiston in Eastern Class A Final)

Top returning players: A.J. Asbury (Senior), Steve Doman (Senior), Matt Flaherty (Senior), Karl Rickett (Senior), Alex Stilphen (Senior), Anthony Verville (Senior), James Doyle (Junior), Brett Harmon (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 20 (H) PORTLAND, May 2 @ Scarborough, May 12 @ Falmouth, May 19 (H) GREELY, May 23 @ Thornton Academy, May 30 (H) KENNEBUNK

Coach's comment: “We hope to be competitive and be able to run with the top teams. We have a great opportunity to accomplish this with 11 returning seniors and some key role players among the underclassmen. We have a tough schedule that should provide plenty of measuring sticks throughout the season and provide us the needed competition we desire to prepare for a playoff run. We hope to return to the Eastern Maine championship and possibly go one step further.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Deering is coming off the best season it's ever produced and while graduation hit hard (2011 Spring Male Athlete of the Year Carleton Allen, all-star Jake Farrell and goalie Nick Holton will be especially missed), the cupboard is far from bare. The Rams have a new coach this spring in Dubois, who played at Messalonskee and Maine Maritime Academy and previously served as an assistant at South Portland and Scarborough. He replaces Bob Rothbart, who took the program to the brink of a championship. Dubois inherits plenty to work with. To help fill the scoring void created by Allen's departure, Deering will look to Verville (26 goals, 10 assists a year ago) and Flaherty (16 goals, 10 assists) to fill the net. They're joined on offense by Asbury, Harmon, new senior Ari Hymoff, juniors Billy Farrell and Rick Murray and sophomores Bailey Koch and Isaac Santerre. Defensively, Rickett, a first-team all-star and the school's first All-American, joins the imposing Stilphen and, Doman and Doyle for an experienced, reliable corps. Harmon, Hymoff and Rickett will all see faceoff duties. Junior John Deloach and Nick Martin will look to fill Holton's shoes in goal. The Rams got off to a strong start Friday with a 4-2 win over Cheverus, which featured holding the Stags scoreless in the second half. Flaherty had two goals, Santerre and Verville one apiece. Deering's defense is superb, but it will need to develop more consistent offense to get where it wants to be. Eastern Class A is there for the taking. The Rams might not be viewed as a favorite in April, but by June, if they stay healthy and improve, they could well be the team to beat.

GIRLS' LACROSSE

Coach: Andrew Gordon (eighth year, 35-55-1 overall record)

2011 Record: 4-8 (no playoffs)

Top returning players: Delaney Loring (Senior), Veronica Mitchell (Senior), Anastasia Muca (Senior), Maddie Ostwald (Senior), Lilly Worthley (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 28 @ McAuley, April 30 (H) TA, May 3 (H) CHEVERUS, May 14 @ Portland, May 21 @ South Portland

Coach's comment: “We'll be reasonably competitive. We're young, but we're quite athletic. We hope to sneak into the playoffs.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Deering has some solid athletes on the roster and that should keep the Rams in all their games this season. Mitchell will set the tone, as she takes draws and figures to do her share of goal scoring. Muca will also be a threat, as will new junior Sam Sivovlos (a transfer from McAuley), sophomores Lilly O'Brien and Cole Spike and freshman Emily Murray. Defensively, Loring and Ostwald have experience in front of Wothley, who returns in goal. Deering last made the playoffs in 2008, but this year's team has a favorable schedule and enough promise to make that leap. If the Rams can get off to a good start, their confidence level will soar and they'll be tough to deny.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Boys' coach: Bruce Koharian (31st year)

Girls' coach: Kevin Olson (fourth year)

2011 Results:

(Boys) 14th @ Class A state meet

(Girls) Tie-11th @ Class A state meet

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Matt Kimball (Senior), Tony Miller (Senior), Tony Sen (Senior), Bryan White (Senior), Jared Bell (Junior),

(Girls) Ella Ramonas (Senior), Whitney Adell (Junior), Sami Mack (Junior), Rashad Zagon (Sophomore)

Top foes: Bonny Eagle, Scarborough, Thornton Academy

Coach Koharian's comment: “We have the same guys we had indoors. We should be competitive.”

Coach Olson's comment: “The hope for this season is to have the girls work hard and see improvement in their times, distances and heights. We hope to be very competitive in our league and to have a good showing at the big meets.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Deering is coming off a most interesting indoor track season and should be a factor this spring.

The boys missed a state title by one point in agonizing fashion back in February and several top athletes from that team are also competing outdoors. Longtime coach Dick Kress stepped down, but Koharian has been around Deering track for 31 years. He's assisted by his daughter, Liz, and former Rams standout Richard Delgado. They have plenty to work with. White's the defending Class A shot put champion and could easily repeat. He's the team's top thrower, but Bell isn't far behind. Miller also scored at states last June (fourth in the 100, seventh in the 200). He and Kimball could be serious threats in the sprints this year. Sen is a hurdler of note. If the Rams can develop enough depth, they will be one of the top teams in league competition and with their specialists, could make a run into the top 10 at states.

On the girls' side, Ramonas is the top returner. She won the 800 outdoors as a sophomore and was runner-up in that event last spring. She's the team's top distance runner and is joined by new senior Katie Donlan and freshman Lizzy Fowler. In the sprints, Adell and Mack return and are joined by new senior Georgia Hutchins. Zagon will be formidable in the hurdles. Freshman Katie Farrell will also look to make noise. Zagon also competes in the high jump. Sophomore Alexis Elowitch could contend in the shot put. Deering is coming off its best state finish in a decade. A first top 10 finish since 2001 is a realistic goal this time around. Look for Ramonas to bow out in style and her teammates to follow suit.

BOYS' TENNIS

Coach: Regina Morton (third year, 12-14 overall record)

2011 Results: 8-6 (Lost 5-0 to Scarborough in Western A semifinals)

Top returning players: Jesse Butler (Senior), Noah Finberg (Senior), Dejan Varejec (Senior), Antonio Macomber (Junior), Tyler Butler (Sophomore), Jordan Roche (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: April 30 @ Gorham, May 2 (H) TA, May 4 @ Cheverus, May 11 @ Scarborough, May 21 @ Portland

Coach's comment: “We hope to have a great season and feel we have worked hard for three years to build a team that is cohesive and compassionate about bettering themselves as players and teammates. We have a team led by two dedicated captains, Noah and Jesse, who have come into the season prepared and committed to giving it their best in practices as well as matches. Our goal is to have as many victories as possible while maintaining a high level of enjoyment for the game.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Deering made some big postseason noise last year, upsetting Cheverus in the quarterfinals and making it to the semis for the first time since 2008. This year's team has a lot of returning firepower in Jesse Butler (a second-team all-star last year), Tyler Butler, Finberg, Macomber, Roche and Varajec. Mix in new seniors Jamie Gullbrand and Thomas Dean and the pieces are in place for the Rams to be very tough. There isn't a clear favorite in Western Class A this season. The Rams have a shot to be in the mix from start to finish and position themselves to once again steal some headlines in the playoffs.

GIRLS' TENNIS

Coach: Stephanie Doane (first year)

2011 Results: 7-6 (Lost 5-0 to McAuley in Western Class A quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Sierra Gridley (Senior), Courtney McGorrill (Senior)

Pivotal matches: May 4 (H) CHEVERUS, May 11 (H) MCAULEY, May 21 (H) PORTLAND

Coach's comment: “I'm thinking this will be a building year. It's a small, but very close team.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Deering welcomes a new coach this spring in Doane, who coached the program for two years in the 1990s and also coached at Bonny Eagle. She played at Virginia Tech and is still an active player. The team features captains Gridley and McGorrill as experienced returners. Also back are Jasmine Abasia and Ava Koenigsberg. A big addition to this year's squad is Molly Gallagher, a second-team all-star last spring, who came over from Portland's successful program and will be at first singles. Other newcomers include Amina Dini, Isabel Handanos and Fatuma Mohamed. While the Rams have modest goals, with a top player leading the way, they have the potential to make life difficult for the rest of league. Possibly enough so their postseason streak grows to 14 straight seasons.

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

Photo: File photo

Senior Nick DiBiase is the lone returning starter for the Deering baseball team.

Photo: File photo

Senior Karl Rickett was Deering's first All-American a year ago and will be one of the state's premier defenders this season.

Photo: File photo

Junior James Doyle is a top defender for the boys' lacrosse team.

Photo: File photo

Senior Delaney Loring is a top defender for the Rams girls' lacrosse team.

Photo: File photo

Senior Veronica Mitchell will do a little of everything for the Rams.