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Yarmouth Clippers Spring Sports Preview

Spring Sports Previews

Yarmouth Clippers Spring Sports Preview

Yarmouth said goodbye to a special and dominant senior class last June, but based on what we've witnessed in the fall and winter, there's no shortage of great athletes in reserve, many of whom prepare to make a mark this spring. The defending state champion girls' lacrosse team has a very different look this year, but should improve quite a bit in the weeks to come. The boys' squad expects to bounce back and be among the best teams in the state. Baseball had a stirring two-year run, but will have some work to do to get back to a top contender level. Softball is coming off a 14-win campaign and should be in the thick of the Western B hunt. Track welcomes a new coach and features its share of talent. Boys' tennis looks to get back to playoff caliber, while the girls' team might have the best shot at ending rival Falmouth's dominance.

BASEBALL

Coach: Marc Halsted (sixth year, 62-30 overall record)

2011 Record: 15-4 (Lost 7-5 to Greely in Western Class B Final)

Top returning players: Ryan Cody (Senior), Bryce Snyder (Senior), Andrew Turcotte (Senior)

Pivotal games: April 20 @ Wells, May 9 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 11 @ Greely, May 14 (H) FALMOUTH, May 16 (H) GREELY, May 21 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 23 (H) FREEPORT, May 25 @ Falmouth, May 30 (H) YORK

Coach's comment: “We don't return any starting pitchers from last year. We only have two players who have played more than 10 varsity games in their careers. We have no experience on the mound and have brand new starters at catcher, shortstop and centerfield. Our strength will be our character and work ethic. I'm blessed to be surrounded by a tremendous group of character kids. We'll still set extraordinarily high expectations and fight to get into the playoffs in the best position possible. Yarmouth baseball has become a standard in the league and the guys know what's expected of them. They're determined to rise and meet the challenge. We have a lot of questions right now. I just hope we find some answers.”

The Forecaster's forecast: After back-to-back trips to the Western Class B Final, the Clippers are basically starting from scratch this spring. Replacing the likes of 2011 Spring Male Athlete of the Year Campbell Belisle-Haley, Co-Player of the Year Luke Pierce and Outstanding Player of the Conference Aidan Sullivan is a difficult task and it will take Yarmouth some time to get up to speed. The Clippers opened by being no-hit in an 11-1 five inning loss at Freeport last week. They will improve. Cody did see some time on the mound last year as a closer (12 strikeouts and three saves in seven innings of work) and will play a much bigger role this time around. Turcotte, who took the loss against Freeport, had six innings pitched and one win last year. Snyder, along with juniors Chester Jacobs and Nick Lainey, look to make a mark. Junior Calvin Cooper will be the catcher. Junior centerfielder Caleb Uhl will hit leadoff. Cody (.322 average, 20 runs, four doubles last season) and Snyder (.352 average, six doubles, one home run, 17 runs batted in in 2011) will look to pace the offense and drive in key runs. Lainey and junior shortstop Thomas Sullivan have enjoyed success at the Junior Legion level. Senior leftfielder Eamon Costello and classmate first baseman Max Grimm have been key contributors in other sports and should help the cause. It's very difficult to rebuild in this region, with so many good teams. Yarmouth will come together, however, and learn to win. Whether the Clippers triumph enough to make the playoffs is up in the air, but if they get there, they'll be a team no one wants to face with the season on the line.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Jim Senecal (eighth year, 63-55 overall record)

2011 Record: 14-3 (Lost 3-1, in nine innings, to Wells in Western Class B quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Sarah Crommett (Senior), Lydia Ruetty (Senior), McKenzie Gray (Junior), Monica Austin (Sophomore), Melissa Levinson (Sophomore), Alexa Sullivan (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 20 @ Wells, May 5 @ Fryeburg, May 9 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 11 @ Greely, May 14 (H) FALMOUTH, May 16 (H) GREELY, May 21 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 23 (H) FREEPORT

Coach's comment: “This is the youngest team I can remember fielding. The only substitute for experience is enthusiasm and we've got plenty of that. We have two returning seniors and their experience will help our younger players develop. Our kids know what they're up against this year and appear to be ready for the challenge. Our battery remains strong and when you have strength at those two positions, you have a chance. Our girls are feeling little pressure, which is a good thing. Our goal is to secure a playoff spot and be that team no one wants to play. We always field a competitive team and this year is no exception. Everyone is upbeat. It's going to be a terrific year.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Yarmouth had the Midas Touch last spring, posting the program's best win total in five seasons, but the luck ran out amid the raindrops in the playoffs against Wells. While the Clippers are younger at several positions this season, they should remain one of the top contenders in Western Class B. For starters, they have a terrific pitcher in Gray, a second-team all-star who went 7-1 last year. She can also hit (.404 average in 2011). Sullivan and freshman Kallie Hutchinson will also see some time on the mound. Hutchinson's main role is catcher and she's expected to be very good both behind the plate and at bat. Levinson will play first base, sophomore Julia Anastos will be at second, Sullivan at shortstop and leadoff hitter (she batted .418 and stole 12 bases as a freshman) and Austin (.293 average in 2011) at third. The outfield features the seasoned Crommett and Ruetty, along with sophomore Teagan Snyder. The potential is there for good things. Yarmouth managed to eke out a 4-3 win at Freeport against its very good pitcher, Leigh Wyman, in the opener last week. In that game, Gray earned the win with a six-hitter, belted a clutch two-run double and Austin doubled and drove in a run. Under the guidance of Fall Coach of the Year Senecal and his assistants, Keith Gray and Trent Hutchinson, look for the Clippers to find a way to win and continue to give teams fits. Yarmouth should be able to muster another impressive record and make the playoffs once more. This team could even enjoy a longer stay than last year once it gets there.

BOYS' LACROSSE

Coach: David Pearl (first year)

2011 Record: 6-7 (Lost 7-6, in overtime, to Gardiner in Eastern Class B semifinals)

Top returning players: Bart Gallagher (Senior), Alex Kurtz (Senior), Anders Overhaug (Senior), Sam Torres (Senior)

Pivotal games: April 21 (H) NYA, April 25 @ Falmouth, May 5 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 12 (H) PORTLAND, May 16 @ NYA, May 18 @ Scarborough, May 25 (H) FALMOUTH, May 30 @ Cape Elizabeth

Coach's comment: “Our goal this season is to develop into a team that is able to compete at the highest level. Through hard work and each individual player's personal commitment to excellence and the team we expect to be competitive in every game we play. We're a young team and we have a lot to prove to ourselves.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Coming off a rare down season, the Clippers are primed to bounce back. Pearl is the new head coach, but he's no stranger to the program. He's coached lacrosse in Yarmouth for 13 years and was a big part of the glory years under Craig Curry. The team features some very accomplished senior athletes who are bound and determined to get this program back to the top before they graduate. Torres, last seen flinging a basketball into the air to set off a wild state championship celebration in Bangor, plays midfield and will look to up his scoring total. He's as skilled and cerebral a player as you'll find. He's joined in the midfield by Overhaug, who played a huge role in the football team's second straight Class C title back in November. Hockey players Gallagher (attack) and Kurtz (goalie) also are in leadership roles. Gallagher should be one of the team's top scorers. Kurtz is in his second year as a starter and impressed despite difficult circumstances in 2011. Junior Ethan Cyr is also in the midfield and will handle faceoff duties. The first order of business for the Clippers is to remind rival North Yarmouth Academy that they're the premier team in the region. NYA beat Yarmouth decisively on the Clippers' turf a year ago and went on to play in the state game. Yarmouth can turn the tables in the opener. The Clippers will also get to measure themselves against the teams recognized as the two best in the state, reigning Class B champion Falmouth and perennial power Cape Elizabeth. It might take awhile to get back to the level of those squads, but Yarmouth will return to form in the weeks to come. Possibly even championship form.

GIRLS' LACROSSE

Coach: Dorothy Holt (eighth year, 83-19 overall record, three state championships)

2011 Record: 14-1 (Beat Waynflete 9-8 to win Class B state championship)

Top returning players: Caitlin Crawford (Senior), Claudia Lockwood (Senior), Jeanna Lowery (Senior), Ricki Pierce (Senior), Olivia Conrad (Junior), Claire King (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 25 @ Waynflete, April 28 (H) SCARBOROUGH, April 30 @ Falmouth, May 4 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 10 (H) NYA, May 23 (H) WAYNFLETE, May 30 @ NYA

Coach's comment: “I have a great group of girls. They're young and need to learn to play together. We lost eight starters and our attack is relatively new. My seniors have stepped up and we just need to work on shot selection and not turning the ball over.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Yarmouth had a team for the ages a year ago, but players like Becca Bell, Kate Dilworth, Stephanie Moulton, Natalie Salmon, Devin Simsarian and two-time Spring Female Athlete of the Year Danielle Torres have gone off to college. It will take some time for the program to get back to a championship level and the Clippers will be at a disadvantage early against more established squads. They lost their opener, 12-2, to visiting Falmouth. Rest assured that Yarmouth will turn things around. Producing consistent offense will be the biggest challenge. Conrad, Lockwood (a second-team all-star last season) and Pierce (one goal versus Falmouth) should help that cause. They'll be aided by seniors Mo McNaboe (one goal in the opener) and Maddy Wood, juniors Julie Kameisha and Ali Merrill and sophomores Grace O'Donnell and Julia Primeau. Defeinsively, the Clippers are better equipped at this juncture to compete. That unit features first-team all-star Crawford, King, second-team all-star Lowery and possibly senior Morgan Cahill, the basketball standout, who was Yarmouth's Winter Female Athlete of the Year. Sophomore Jordan Brown has stepped into goal and made some nice saves in the season opener. Yarmouth's schedule, as always, is daunting, but as the season goes on, the Clippers will get more and more competitive. They'll win their share of games, make the playoffs and could very easily wind up representing Eastern Class B in the state final once more. What a happy ending that would be.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: Hank Richards (first year)

2011 Results:

(Boys) 17th @ Class B state meet

(Girls) Tie-25th @ Class B state meet

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Lucas Davis (Senior), Chris Knaub (Senior), Tom Robichaud (Junior), Wes Crawford (Sophomore), Ben Decker (Sophomore)

(Girls) Susannah Daggett (Senior), Jocelyn Davies (Senior), Emma Pidden (Junior), Meagan Smith (Junior), Katie Overhaug (Sophomore)

Top foes: Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Greely, York

Coach's comment: “Overall the numbers are OK, but we have some holes to fill. The emergence of some of the younger runners will determine our overall success. We will have flashes of greatness as well as some lackluster performances, but that is to be expected with a young team. Things are going in the right direction for track at Yarmouth. This outdoor team we have now will help springboard us into the coming years.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Longtime coach Bob Morse stepped down (he'll continue to coach Nordic skiing) and has been replaced by Richards, who's been the indoor track coach for three seasons. He'll be assisted by Jeff Averill, Mike Griffin, John Rogers, Chuck Thorp and the one and only Adam Smith, who just received yet another Coach of the Year recognition after leading the boys' basketball team to its first state title since 1968. That group has some athletes to work with this spring.

The boys return Knaub, a key member of the basketball team, who was fifth in the javelin at last year's state meet. Crawford, Decker (third in the two-mile indoors) and Robichaud look to make noise in the distance races. Davis is the top sprinter and jumper and hopes to bow out in style. Robichaud is also a standout pole vaulter and holds the school record with a top vault of 10 feet, 3 inches. Yarmouth doesn't have the monster numbers that traditional powers like Falmouth and Greely boast, but the quality of athlete on the roster is undeniable and the Clippers figure to hold their own in the conference season and could move up at states and get a few very impressive individual performances along the way.

On the girls' side, Smith had the team's lone point at states last year, finishing seventh in the pole vault. She hopes to soar even higher than her personal best of 8 feet at some point. Daggett and Overhaug will sprint. Pidden is a hurdler. Davies competes in the high jump. Overhaug could emerge as a top thrower. Like the boys, this team should be competitive throughout and also stand to move up in June.

BOYS' TENNIS

Coach: Mark Marstaller (14th year, 105-72 overall record, one state championship)

2011 Results: 4-8 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Sam Beaulieu (Junior), Braden Becker (Sophomore), Alex Caroi (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: April 25 (H) WAYNFLETE, April 30 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 4 @ Waynflete, May 14 @ Falmouth

Coach's comment: “None of my doubles players have played in a high school match. We'll go as far as our singles players take us. I expect we'll end up 7-5 or 8-4 and hope for a favorable seeding in the tourney. My hope is to go as far as possible in the tournament without facing Cape or Falmouth.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Yarmouth missed the playoffs last year for the second year in a row. There likely won't be a third. The Clippers return Caroi at first singles. He has the potential to match up well against the best players in the league and could advance deeply in the singles tournament. Becker is at second singles and also entertains hopes of a deep singles tournament run. Beaulieu was part of the first doubles team last spring and could move up to No. 3 singles. Seniors Carter Dorsett and Ryan Maguire, junior Jackson Hall, sophomore Kellen Humphries and freshman Jake Inger are in the doubles mix. Yarmouth should be able to handle most opponents, although Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth appear to be on another level. Look for the Clippers to win more matches than they lose and to not only make the playoffs, but to stay awhile.

GIRLS' TENNIS

Coach: Ann Harradon (16th year, 151-66 overall record, four state championships)

2011 Results: 11-3 (Lost 3-2 to Oak Hill in Western Class B semifinals)

Top returning players: Chase McCain (Senior), Hannah Potter (Senior), Lindsey Robinson (Senior), Bailey Sheehan (Senior), Natalie Stern (Senior), Hannah Elrick (Sophomore), Sarah Oberink (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: April 24 (H) WAYNFLETE, April 25 @ NYA, May 7 @ Waynflete, May 14 (H) FALMOUTH, May 18 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 22 @ NYA

Coach's comment: “The seniors are seasoned players and should have a fine year. The sophomores will grow as the season progresses. Our strongest competition, as always, is Falmouth. They have an even stronger team this year and will be unbeatable. I think the rest of the teams in the conference are evenly matched. As always, our goal is to make the playoffs. We'd love to play Falmouth in the Western Maine Finals.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Yarmouth could easily be the second best team in Class B, but a trip to the state final match is unlikely with Falmouth standing in the way. The Clippers are led by Potter, a first-team all-star last season. McCain, Robinson, Sheehan and Stern all have experience and Elrick and Oberink will also play key roles. This veteran team has its sights set on winning most of its regular season matches, getting a high playoff seed and going out with a bang. Dethroning the Yachtsmen might be a tall task, but this group will be very tough in the weeks to come.

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

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Senior Ricki Pierce's athleticism and skill will help keep the Clippers in contention this season.

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Senior Claudia Lockwood will look to fill the graduated scoring void for the Clippers.

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Senior Caitlin Crawford saw big minutes during last year's title run. This year, as a veteran, she'll look to guide the Clippers back to the playoffs.

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Senior captain Alex Kurtz is one of the state's top goalies.

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Senior captain Sam Torres, last seen winning a boys' basketball state title, is a key midfielder for the Clippers.

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Senior captain Anders Overhaug hopes to carry over his success from football to boys' lacrosse and bow out with another championship.

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Senior captain Bart Gallagher will be one of the biggst scoring threats for the Yarmouth boys' lacrosse team.

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Junior McKenzie Gray hopes to pitch the Yarmouth softball team back to the postseason.