Fri, Dec 19, 2014 ●
BathHarpswellTopshamBrunswickCumberlandNorth YarmouthFalmouthFreeportPortlandCape ElizabethScarboroughSouth PortlandChebeague IslandYarmouth

Scarborough athletes sign Letters of Intent

Sports

Scarborough athletes sign Letters of Intent

SCARBOROUGH—Thanks to their powerful arms and potent bats, Scarborough seniors Ben Greenberg, Megan Murrell and Alyssa Williamson are no strangers to the limelight, but they usually steal headlines in April, May and June, not November.

That changed Nov. 13 when Greenberg and Williamson sat center stage at the Scarborough High School auditorium to sign their National Letters of Intent and Murrell did the same a day later at The Edge Academy in Portland.

Greenberg committed to Fordham University in New York City, where he'll pitch and will likely study business.

Murrell is heading to St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., where she hopes to catch, but is willing to play any position. She's considering studying early education.

Williamson, meanwhile, will take her show to Drexel University in Philadelphia, where she will hit and pitch and plans to study psychology.

The big city

Greenberg was named Maine's Gatorade Player of the Year last spring, a season which saw him go 6-0 with an 0.54 earned run average, strike out 46 hitters while only walking five, while also hitting a team-leading .415 with three doubles, five triples, two home runs and 17 runs batted in.

Greenberg had several college options, but Fordham won out.

"It's very exciting," said Greenberg, who just starred on the gridiron this fall as the Red Storm's quarterback. "I've wanted to play Division I baseball forever. I was looking at some other schools. Some that might have been better academically. Some that might have been better baseball-wise, but it came down to how they recruited me. They focused a lot on character as well as athletic ability. Their program is something I wanted to be a part of. Being on a beautiful campus in the middle of New York City really interested me."

Greenberg, who was joined by his parents, Marc and Leigh, at the signing, said that he's long wanted to play collegiately and believes he can make an immediate impact with the Rams.

"(Pitching coach) Bobby (Agger's) always thought I was good enough to play in college," Greenberg said. "He pushed me. I always had that goal. (Fordham's) around a .500 program, but I wanted to go somewhere where I might be able to make an impact freshman year, as opposed to sitting on the bench. If I work hard and compete, I hope to have a role freshman year."

Agger, along with Scarborough varsity coach Ryan Jones, believe that Greenberg has what it takes to continue to dazzle at the next level.

"Ben separates himself from everyone else," said Agger. "It's definitely his work ethic. There are kids who say they do it, but he's just dialed in every day. You don't get that a lot. I think wherever he goes, he'll be successful. Even if he went to a big Division I school, he'd contribute. At Fordham, he'll make an impact right away."

"Very rarely do you see a kid of Ben's age with his work ethic, passion and love for the game," Jones said. "I'm very happy for him. We're very fortunate to have him as our centerpiece this year."

After graduation took almost all of last year's talented and successful team, Greenberg will certainly be the man leading Scarborough next spring, but he's looking forward to his final high school season.

"It's tough losing all the seniors from last year," Greenberg said. "We have a small core of returning players who were on the practice team. We have kids who like to compete. We'll have a shot. Who knows?"

Close to home

Turning to softball, Murrell has been behind the plate since her freshman year and has played a huge role in Scarborough's pitching dominance. Last season, she hit .373 with 13 RBI in the regular season, then batted .500 with six RBI in the Red Storm's championship run.

Murrell was seriously considering two schools, but St. Anselm ultimately got the nod.

"St. Anselm was my top choice, but then I visited Stonehill (College) and both had beautiful campuses, great teams and awesome coaches," Murrell said. "St. Anselm gave us a better package. It's very exciting."

Murrell expects to play a role with the Hawks, even if it's not behind the plate.

"I'll go anywhere the coach wants me to go," Murrell said. "They're very good. They have a great pitching staff. The girls are very hard working."

While she played field hockey as a freshman and sophomore, Murrell said that softball has always been her top sport.

"I started in (Scarborough varsity coach Tom Griffin's) pitching league when I was nine," Murrell said.

Griffin isn't surprised Murrell's going to play at the next level.

"Megan has the talent, but her attitude separates her," he said. "She was a good little player when she was a kid, but she dedicated herself to getting better. She rose to the occasion and took advantage of her opportunities. She calls a great game. She needed to improve her arm strength and she did it through hard work.

"She's very versatile. She could play third base, the outfield or even first base. She has a wonderful spirit. She's a kid you just like to be around. Such positive energy. She's very determined and focused. She understands the game very well. She strives to improve. I think she made a good choice. She's a solid Division II talent. She's close to her family, so it's good for her to have them just an a hour-and-a-half away."

While Griffin brags about Murrell, she also made a point of raving about his impact.

"Coach is dedicated 110 percent," Murrell said. "He'd come to the field at 5:30 a.m. to make sure it was ready for a 3 p.m. practice. If we didn't have him, there's no way we'd get so far. He's created an amazing program. He produces athlete after athlete and pitcher after pitcher."

An SMAA honorable mention all-star in 2013, Murrell's value to the program really can't be quantified.

"She was as big a contributor as anyone last year," Griffin said. "She didn't have eye-popping stats, but she played such a huge role as catcher. She did what she had to in the playoffs. You can't win a state title without a great catcher. Hopefully she'll get the recognition she deserves her senior year."

Speaking of which, Murrell has one goal for the upcoming spring.

"I want to win a state title again," she said. "We have a lot back. This group gets along so well. We have a shot at ending our even-year curse (Scarborough won Class A in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013, but not in an even year).

Dual threat

Williamson's ability to dominate on the mound, as well as pound the ball all over the field helped Scarborough win Class A championships in 2011 and 2013. For three seasons, her statistics have been mind-boggling.

Last spring, Williamson hit .540, drove in 25 runs, homered three times and had an on-base-plus-slugging average of a jawdropping 1.494. On the mound, she went undefeated with an 0.38 ERA, fanning 88 batters in just 55 innings.

For her career, Williamson is 23-0 on the hill with an 0.39 ERA and has hit .548 with 15 home runs and 89 RBI. She didn't strike out once in either her sophomore or junior seasons.

Like Greenberg, Williamson had several schools clamoring for her services, but she chose another big city a little further south.

"There were probably three or four other schools I was interested in, but once I set foot on the campus and met the coach and girls, it clicked and I knew that's where I wanted to go,"  said Williamson, who was joined Wednesday by her parents, Bob and Donna. "It's a big relief to have this out of the way."

Having spent some time around the program, Williamson, who will pitch and hit in college, knows she has work to do.

"It's a very competitive program," she said. "I went down last weekend to watch their practice and their daily routine and it was definitely a wakeup call."

Griffin feels she's up for it.

"She loves the sport," said Griffin, who has produced numerous college players in his nearly quarter century as Red Storm coach. "She's taken advantage to every opportunity that's been presented her. The biggest question for her is how successful she'll be as a pitcher. It's a challenge for her to pitch at that level. She won't be the overpowering pitcher she's been in high school. She'll be a movement pitcher. She has all the characteristics of someone who can be successful. Whether it translates to Division I, time will tell. I have no doubt she'll be a Division I quality hitter and first baseman. There's no question she belongs."

Williamson said that she long aspired to playing at the next level.

"I've dreamed about this since my first travel game," she said. "When I started pitching at around seven, I set my mind to being a Division I pitcher."

"She's wanted this for a long, long time," Griffin said. "It's pure dedication. When she started growing and I saw the strength and velocity she possesses, I thought she could do it. Coming into high school, I needed some extra players in a summer league game. I had a chance to throw some extra batting practice to her and saw someone who had great plate coverage. Rarely do I see a kid have that. She was right on it and had a clear understanding of the strike zone. She was something special with the bat in her hand."

Williamson also has a simple goal for her final season.

"I want to win one more state championship," she said.

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