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Spring Preview: Freeport Falcons

Sports

Spring Preview: Freeport Falcons

Freeport's spring teams are looking for improvement this season. Baseball is hoping to win a game for the first time since 2007. Softball has a chance to be a contender. Boys' lacrosse welcomes a new coach this spring and boasts some talent. The girls' lacrosse squad is also under new stewardship and should win its share of games. Track is another sport with a new coach and some promising athletes. Both tennis teams hope to make a run at the playoffs.

BASEBALL

Coach: Hank Ogilby (10th year)

2008 Record: 0-16 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Nick Farrar (Senior), Ronnie Gillis (Senior), Jon Klages (Senior), Kyle Moore (Junior), Spencer Egan (Sophomore), Nate Pfeffer (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: May 2 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 4 (H) YORK, May 8 @ Yarmouth, May 16 (H) YARMOUTH, May 18 @ NYA, May 20 @ Greely, May 22 (H) FALMOUTH

Coach's comment: "We have a great freshman class, both in numbers and talent. We're looking at six players to contribute in some form this year. We'll still be a bit young and inexperienced, however, overall we're much deeper than we were last year. We fought hard and kept a great attitude throughout last season. I'm very confident we're going to grow as the season progresses. Our goals are to develop as individuals and as a team and to stay focused and positive. I'm quite optimistic about the future of Falcon baseball."

The Forecaster's forecast: Freeport has nowhere to go but up this spring and despite last week's season-opening 14-0 loss to Poland, there's reason to believe the Falcons can make some positive strides. The biggest reason for optimism is the presence of Winter Athlete of the Year Klages, who will be the lead pitcher and play shortstop. Egan, a lefty, is the No. 2 pitcher, and also plays first base. Pfeffer serves as catcher and can also play the outfield. He shows a promising bat. Moore plays short or third and will either hit leadoff or third in the order. Ogilby calls him Freeport's best hitter. Farrar will play second and hit near the top of the order. Gillis and juniors Ian Morency and Shane Verville fill outfield positions. Then, there are the freshmen, who represent the future. Kaleb Farmer can pitch and play the infield. Jared Knighten can catch and pitch. Luke Lamagna catches and is an outfielder. Paul Patriotti is a pitcher and infielder. Josh Weirich pitches and plays first base. Sawyer Williams also pitches and plays the outfield. Look for them to see more and more time as the season goes on. The Falcons aren't talking about a winning record or a playoff berth, their goals are more modest. A victory, especially if it comes early, would do wonders for team confidence. There are some winnable games on the schedule. If Freeport's younger players produce as hoped and if they can keep mistakes to a minimum, there will be some highlights between now and June.

Fun fact: The good old days weren't too long ago for Freeport. In 2004, the Falcons posted their last winning record, 9-8.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Victor DiSilvestro (second year)

2008 Record: 4-12 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Olivia Doane (Senior), Theresa Flynn (Senior), Sarah Hawkes (Senior), Shannon Jones (Senior), Kayla Bibeau (Junior), Whitney Bibeau (Junior), Stephanie Pottle (Junior), Hannah Schuchert (Junior), Jessica Kane (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 27 @ Gray-NG, April 29 @ Fryeburg, May 2 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 8 @ Yarmouth, May 11 @ Lake Region, May 13 @ Wells, May 16 (H) YARMOUTH, May 20 @ Greely, May 22 (H) FALMOUTH, May 27 (H) GRAY-NG, June 3 (H) LAKE REGION

Coach's comment: "We we won three of our last six games last year. I hope to build on that ending. Last year, we only won four games, so naturally our goal is to improve in the win column and maybe sneak into the postseason. We have an experienced team, but it's still a young team."

The Forecaster's forecast: Freeport got its season off to an inspirational start last week with a come-from-behind 4-3 home win over Poland in 11 innings. The Falcons trailed 3-0 going to the bottom of the seventh, but scratched three runs across to send the contest to extra innings. Then, in the 11th, freshman Dani Perry raced home from second on a bunt to win it. Doane returns on the hill. She held the Knights scoreless the final nine innings of the opener. Whitney Bibeau is back behind the plate. Kane will also catch and play the outfield. The infield is solid with Pottle at first, Flynn at second, Kayla Bibeau at shortstop and Schuchert at third. Hawkes and Jones, along with new sophomore Sonia Jones, will see time in the outfield. Another newcomer to watch is sophomore Sara Reed, who might see some time at catcher. As far as the rest of the season goes, look for Doane to keep the Falcons competitive. Freeport will have to find a way to score runs against the elite pitchers and has to avoid mistakes to succeed. If the Falcons can build on their promising start, they should be able to eclipse last year's win total and be in the running for a postseason berth.

Fun fact: Freeport's last playoff berth and last .500 season came in 2002.

BOYS LACROSSE

Coach: Geoff Arris (first year)

2008 Record: 2-10 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Greg Ordway (Senior), Alex Thompson (Senior), Greg Townsend (Senior), Calvin Burgess (Junior), Jackson Dodge (Junior), Tom Dorsey (Junior), Jake Gore (Junior), Josh Sturtevant (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 28 @ NYA, May 2 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 6 @ Yarmouth, May 9 (H) WAYNFLETE, May 16 @ Falmouth, May 18 @ Scarborough

Coach's comment: "Unfortunately, it's a small group. We only have 17 kids for varsity and JV. The kids we do have are awesome and excited to play. They all love the game. I'm hoping we can have fun and improve on our record from last year. I'd like to be able to compete with the elite teams. Our starters can compete."

The Forecaster's forecast: Freeport once again faces a daunting schedule with a small team and a new coach. Arris played at Freeport (Class of 1998) and went on to compete at Plymouth State. He served as an assistant for two years with the Falcons and spent last season with Greely, the surprise team in the league. Arris does inherit some solid players. Dorsey, Thompson and Townsend will all be scoring threats. Ordway handles faceoff duties. Dodge will be difficult to contend with from his middie position. On defense, Burgess, Gore and Josh Sturtevant will look to make life easier for freshman goalie Alex Sturtevant. Freeport faces the heavyweights in the first two-thirds of its schedule, then the slate gets much easier. If the Falcons can survive that crucible intact and win a game or two, a strong finishing kick could be enough to get them into the playoffs. Whatever happens, expect Freeport to play hard and for its returning stars to produce many highlights.

Fun fact: Last season saw the culmination of the finest era in program history, a four-year stretch from 2004 to 2007 in which the Falcons went 36-19 and made playoff trips each season.

GIRLS LACROSSE

Coach: Karin Kurry (first year)

2008 Record: 6-8 (Lost 14-6 to NYA in Eastern Class B semifinals)

Top returning players: Krista Bennati-Roberts (Senior), Melanie Ross (Senior), Gina Soule (Senior), Shelby Colvin (Junior), Emily Drummond (Junior), Lucy Whitacre (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 30 @ Westbrook, May 8 (H) PORTLAND, June 1 @ Wells

Coach's comment: "We're young, but growing. It's a good group to work with. We hope to qualify for the playoffs. We want to build the program."

The Forecaster's forecast: The program made some nice strides a year ago, making it all the way to the Eastern B semifinals. This season, the Falcons return a big core and have a much easier schedule, making an improvement on last year's win total likely. Freeport welcomes a new coach in Kurry, who was the assistant for the Falcons last year. Kurry, who played in high school and at Colby College, previously coached at Deering for six years. The top returner is Whitacre, a second-team all-star last spring. Whitacre, along with Colvin and Drummond, figure to be the top scoring threats. Bennati-Roberts and Ross anchor the defense in front of new goalie junior Hannah Goodenow. Freeport should have plenty of confidence after its accomplishments of last June. If the Falcons play their game and stay healthy, they should post a winning record for the first time since 2003. More success in the playoffs could also be in the offing.

Fun fact: Last year marked the first time in the MPA-sanctioned era that Freeport reached the semifinals. It was also the first time since 2001 that the Falcons won a playoff game.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: Brian Berkemeyer (first year)

2008 Results:
(BOYS) 4th @ Class C state meet
(GIRLS) T-16th @ Class C state meet

Top returning athletes:
(BOYS) Connor Yost (Senior), Chris Anthony (Junior), Henry Loughlin (Junior), Eric Wold (Junior), Ryan Collet (Sophomore)
(GIRLS) Amy Edwards (Senior), Robin Gleason (Senior), Andrea Goodrich (Senior), Adrian Baker (Junior), Rachael Foster (Junior), Lauren Parker (Junior), Kelly Edwards (Sophomore)

Top foes: NYA, Waynflete

Coach's comment: "Our strength is running. The girls look very strong in the running events. The boys will have standouts in specific events. We have some very strong athletes. We have 42 kids this year. We will get better every year."

The Forecaster's forecast: Berkemeyer replaces David Watson as head coach. He's coached cross country for several seasons and was the indoor coach this winter. He's joined by volunteer coach Josh Zolla. They take over a program on the rise.

The boys' team will miss 2008 Freeport Spring Male Athlete of the Year Parker Chipman and Nick Anthony (state champ in the pole vault), who graduated. Wold was part of a runner-up 1,600 relay team and Yost came in third in the pole vault last spring. Yost also came in third indoors. Loughlin is the top distance threat. Collet and Anthony run sprints. Anthony will also look to match his brother's feat in the pole vault. Several newcomers bring depth. Miguel Beckles is a sprinter and long jumper. Griffin Day runs the mile and Orion Sickels could contend in the sprints. The Falcons were a surprising fourth last year at states. Repeating that feat might be a challenge, but there are some points on the roster. Look for another solid season.

On the girls' side, Goodrich is the lone returning scorer from last spring. She was runner-up in the 800 and will also compete in the mile this season. Gleason and Kelly Edwards, along with newcomers Kiera Berkemeyer and Caroline Davis (seventh in the two-mile indoors), are other distance runners of note. Baker has been a standout in the past in the 400. Amy Edwards, Foster and Parker, along with newcomer Kristin Poulin, are top sprinters. Foster also throws the javelin. Bryn Gallagher could be a factor in the hurdles. Freeport has the numbers and quality to not just contend in-conference, but to also make a run at the top 10 at the Class C state meet.

BOYS TENNIS

Coach: Jay Harper (ninth year)

2008 Results: 4-8 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Seth McClellan (Senior), Chris Poulin (Senior), Jake Albright (Junior), Ian Connolly (Junior), Ben Forster (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: April 29 (H) WAYNFLETE, April 30 (H) YARMOUTH, May 8 @ NYA, May 18 @ Yarmouth, May 20 (H) FALMOUTH, May 22 @ Cape Elizabeth

Coach's comment: "We're hoping to hold our own and to do as well or better than last year. There are some tough teams in our league."

The Forecaster's forecast: Freeport missed the playoffs for the second year in a row last spring, but is hoping for better things this time around. The Falcons began their season with a 5-0 loss to Greely, but there should be better days ahead. Connolly will play first singles. Albright moves up from doubles to the No. 2 singles spot. Forster will be No. 3. McClellan and Poulin are expected to wind up at first doubles, but new senior Ben Boutin teamed with Poulin in the opener. New senior Cody Bartlett and new sophomores Scott Ross and Sam Skold will also be heard from. Ross and Skold took part in the first match. Freeport meets the top three teams in the league in its final three matches, so winning its share before then will be paramount if the Falcons want to qualify for the playoffs. The team will take its lumps at times, but will also play hard and should earn some victories.

GIRLS TENNIS

Coach: Heath MacVane (second year)

2008 Results: 2-10 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Emily Bruce (Senior), Natalie Hench (Senior), Monika Krahn (Senior), Jaimee McCormack (Senior), Marissa Lewis (Junior)

Pivotal matches: April 29 @ Waynflete, April 30 @ Yarmouth, May 8 (H) NYA, May 20 @ Falmouth, May 22 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH

Coach's comment: "I'm looking forward to a new season. It's unfortunate to only have one newcomer, but also nice that we didn't lose a single player from last year. I'm pleased to see returning players ahead of where they were last year and hope this translates into some more wins for them."

The Forecaster's forecast: Freeport is coming off its second straight 2-10 campaign and is seeking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004. The Falcons will have their hands full as there are several strong teams in the Western Maine Conference. They are fortunate to have a solid nucleus returning. The exact ladder wasn't available at press time, but look for sophomores Erin Hall and Maggie Stavros to be factors in addition to those listed above. Freeport has the pieces in place to improve on last year's win total.

Photo:
Senior Alex Thompson should do his share of damage for the Freeport boys' lacrosse team this spring. (File photo)

Photo:
Connor Yost has been soaring above the competition in the pole vault for awhile now. He looks to win the Class C title this season. (File photo)

Photo:
Adrian Baker has long been a standout in the 400. She hopes to make a run at the top this year. (File photo)