Fri, Nov 21, 2014 ●
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Freeport Falcons Spring Sports Preview

Sports

Freeport Falcons Spring Sports Preview

Freeport features new faces and high hopes as a new spring season dawns. Baseball has a new coach and looks to win that extra game or two to make the playoffs after falling just short last season. Softball has some holes to fill, but should be able to contend. Boys' lacrosse has a lot of youth, but shows promise. The girls' team is coming off another strong campaign and will be in the title hunt. Outdoor track welcomes a new coach who has some special athletes to work with. Boys' tennis is coming off its best season in several years and will remain strong. The girls' team has a bright future and a promising present as well.

BASEBALL

Coach: Bill Ridge (first year)

2013 record: 7-9 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Niko DiFazio (Senior), Pete LaMagna (Junior), Jack Davenport (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 30 @ Yarmouth, May 2 Falmouth, May 5 @ York, May 7 CAPE ELIZABETH, May 16 GREELY, May 28 YARMOUTH

Coach's comment: “We have a lot of new blood. A lot of inexperience, but that makes everyone work hard. We'll depend on Pete and Jack quite a bit to pitch and to hit. I'm confident with our pitching staff. We need to find the bats to help the pitching. A realistic goal is to be a playoff team.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Freeport has a new look this year as longtime coach Hank Ogilby stepped down and was replaced by Ridge, who grew up in South Portland and played at Cheverus. He coached Brunswick the past three seasons and is a teacher in the Freeport schools system. The Falcons have been very competitive the past couple seasons and hope to be in the playoff mix again this spring. The top returner is Davenport, who was a second-team league all-star as a freshman. Davenport will be a key pitcher and also wields a potent bat. LaMagna will pace the team from the mound and with his bat. DiFazio also returns and will play shortstop. Sophomore Caiden Shea is the catcher. Senior Bill Nison is a key newcomer at first base. Freeport has holes to fill, but this is a roster that should be able to hold its own against virtually everyone on the schedule. Freeport will be in the mix throughout and after falling just short of the playoffs a year ago, might just get there this time around.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Mike Perry (second year, 5-11 overall record)

2013 record: 5-11 (no playoffs)

Top returning players: Vanessa Lee (Senior), Jess Perry (Senior), Jill Baker (Junior), Lauren Cormier (Junior), Katie Johnson (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 28 WELLS, April 30 @ Yarmouth, May 2 Falmouth, May 7 CAPE ELIZABETH, May 8 @ Poland, May 12 @ Fryeburg, May 14 GRAY-NG, May 23 POLAND, May 28 YARMOUTH, June 2 @ Gray-NG

Coach's comment: “We will be a young team after graduating eight seniors. We're returning only four starters. I see a lot of potential and excitement in underclassmen moving up. We have four potential pitchers. We hope to play some quality preseason games and be ready for our first matchup of the year against Wells. It should be an exciting season with a lot of young, talented players.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Freeport faces its share of uncertainty as the new season begins. The program was hard-hit by graduation, with the biggest loss coming on the mound after first-team league all-star Leigh Wyman departed. Lee will look to step into the lead pitching role this spring. Perry is back as the catcher. She's a four-year starter. Those two veterans will set the tone. Lee isn't the only pitcher. Brianna Bellefleur, Bailey Karnes and Hannah Ray will also see time. Other returners of note include Baker and Johnson in the outfield and Cormier, a three-year starter, at shortstop. Baker and Johnson are joined by sophomore Lauren Briggs in the outfield. Sophomores Nicole Perry, Hannah Ray and E.B. Wiest provide depth on the infield. Freeport last made the playoffs in 2002 and last boasted a winning record in 2001. Ending those droughts won't come easily, but this is a squad that figures to improve in the weeks to come and will refuse to make life easy for anyone.

BOYS' LACROSSE

Coach: Geoff Arris (sixth year, 25-39 overall record)

2013 record: 3-10 (Lost, 9-3, to Gardiner in Eastern B quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Ramsay Dodge (Junior), Jake Perry (Junior), Sam Wogan (Junior), Zack Owen (Sophomore), Zac Wogan (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: May 1 WELLS, May 10 CAMDEN HILLS, May 13 WAYNFLETE, May 20 YORK, May 23 @ Greely, May 28 @ Lake Region, June 5 @ Waynflete

Coach's comment: “Our numbers are very low. Only 23 players with no JV team. It's also a very young team with just one senior and four juniors. Realistically, we hope to improve on last year. We'd like to go at least .500. Our hope is, as always, to get back to the tournament. It's a learning process.”

The Forecaster's forecast: After a two-year drought, Freeport got to the playoffs a year ago. This spring, the Falcons will have their work cut out due to small numbers and youth. Owen will look to give his team possession as the faceoff man. Owen, Sam Wogan and freshmen Perrin Davidson and Connor Dostie are midfielders to watch. Dodge, along with Wogan, figures to pace the offense. Perry is the top returning defender. Zac Wogan impressed as a freshman and is back in goal, joining Sam Wogan and Dodge as captains. Fortunately for Freeport, it has a schedule which will allow it to compete on a regular basis. The Falcons should be able to equal or better last year's win total. The question will be can they earn enough Heal Points to make the playoffs? If this squad can make it to the postseason, it will speak very well to its future potential.

GIRLS' LACROSSE

Coach: Karin Kurry (sixth year, 31-35 overall record)

2013 record: 6-7 (Lost, 12-10, to Yarmouth in Eastern B semifinals)

Top returning players: Meredith Broderick (Senior), Molly Lane (Senior), Megan Peacock (Senior), Shelby Sawyer (Senior), Emily Sturtevant (Senior), Emily Johnson (Junior), Lizzie Martin (Junior), Courtney Broderick (Sophomore), Nina Moore (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: May 1 @ NYA, May 3 @ Morse, May 5 YARMOUTH, May 7 @ Falmouth, May 17 GARDINER, May 24 GREELY, June 4 NYA

Coach's comment: “We only graduated three and have a lot back. Our whole senior defense is back. I think we look good. Molly's one of the best goalies in the state. We have confidence. The girls are hungry after last year. It should be interesting.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Last year's Falcons might have been better than the team which went to the state final for the first time in 2012, but Freeport couldn't manage another playoff upset win over Yarmouth and fell just short of State Championship Saturday. This year's team will be a top contender in Eastern B again, even after parting with defender Dayze Gaulin, sparkplug Aubrey Pennell and Freeport's reigning Spring Athlete of the Year, Jocelyn Davee. The Falcons should be as strong as anyone on the defensive end of the field. Peacock, Sawyer and Sturtevant all have plenty of experience in front of Lane, who was a first-team league all-star in goal a season ago. The midfield features some stellar athletes in Courtney Broderick, Meredith Broderick, Johnson, Martin and Moore. Consistent scoring is the only question mark entering the year. While Meredith Broderick is expected to tickle the twine, Kurry was uncertain who else might score. If Freeport can find consistent offense, it will not only compete with everyone, but will win a lot of games and will be in position to turn heads once more in the month of June.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: Matthew Greear (first year)

2013 results:

(BOYS) Tie-14th @ Class C state meet

(GIRLS) 5th @ Class C state meet

Top returning athletes:

(BOYS) Harrison Stivers (Senior), Eric Wentworth (Senior), Chandler Vincent (Sophomore)

(GIRLS) Lexi Dietrich (Senior), Bethanie Knighton (Senior), Hailey Steckler (Senior)

Top foes: Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Greely, Traip

Coach's comment: “We're making the move to Class B this year. The team is looking forward to the challenge and is ready for meets to begin. The team is comprised of mostly sophomores and seniors looking to improve on past performances and meeting new qualifying standards.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Freeport has quietly put together a competitive outdoor track program and will be further challenged this spring by a move to Class B. The program welcomes a new coach in Greear, who competed at Leavitt and previously assisted at Cony.

The boys' team returns standout Stivers, the school's Spring and Winter Male Athlete of the Year. Last year, Stivers won a pair of Class C championships, taking both the 400 and 800. He'll likely add more hardware come June. Wentworth is a top sprinter. Vincent can run everything from the 400 to the two-mile. Senior A.J. Daniel (sprints) and Demetrius Rodriguez (sprints, jumps) are newcomers to watch. This team has the pieces in place to be strong in the conference, then make a run at a top 10 state meet finish.

On the girls' side, Dietrich is the top returner. She's the defending Class B champion in the 200 and will be a sprinter to keep an eye on. Knighton (400, 800) and Steckler (middle distance) also return. Look for some strong individual results and for this team to be among the top half in the league.

BOYS' TENNIS

Coach: Jay Harper (14th year, 65-100 overall record)

2013 record: 8-6 (Lost, 3-2, to York in Western Class B semifinals)

Top returning players: Ethan Roney (Senior), Caleb Abbott (Junior), Ryder Bennell (Junior), Nate Small (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: April 29 YORK, May 2 WAYNFLETE, May 5 FALMOUTH, May 12 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 23 @ NYA

Coach's comment: “We lost four strong seniors. We're still a bit young, but we have three players with a lot of varsity experience. We should be good at first doubles, however, our number two doubles team will have no varsity experience. We have to beat Greely, Yarmouth, Fryeburg and NYA to be able to get enough (Heal Points) to qualify for the postseason. We play in the best league in the state and it's never easy to qualify.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Freeport is coming off its best season since 2006 and hopes to contend once again. Abbott and Bennell (doubles players last spring), Roney and Small all have experience. Juniors Shawn Anthony, Seth Breton, Callum Gould and Charlie Zacku and sophomore Painter Soule are other players to watch. The Falcons have the athletes to be competitive. If they can approach last year's record and get back to the postseason, with Falmouth now in Class A, the door will be open to perhaps do something even more special than last season.

GIRLS' TENNIS

Coach: Chris Nordenson (third year, 9-17 overall record)

2013 record: 7-7 (Lost, 4-1, to Cape Elizabeth in Western B quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Katie McClelland (Senior), Lauren Carter (Junior), Hannah Williams (Junior), Lindsey Dealaman (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: May 2 @ Waynflete, May 5 @ Falmouth, May 12 CAPE ELIZABETH, May 20 KENNEBUNK, May 22 YARMOUTH, May 23 NYA

Coach's comment: “We lost four starters from last year, but we've returned a lot of good players and a lot of the girls have worked hard in the offseason and it's showing. I think if we play up to our potential, we'll be right there again for a playoff spot. I truly have a lot of faith in this team and their abilities and I'm excited for another season to begin. We play so many good teams. We really just have to take it a game at a time.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Last spring, Freeport made the playoffs for the first time since 2009 and this year's squad features several key returners and some promising newcomers, suggesting the Falcons could be even better this time around. McClelland, a second-team league all-star last spring, will be in the top singles spot. Carter and Dealaman will also play singles. Williams is a certainty at first doubles. She'll be joined by new junior Katie O'Neil. Other players in the doubles mix include juniors Hannah Avant and Chloe Whittaker and sophomores Caleigh Breton and Leah Harrison. Four freshmen: Tatum Erlandson, Mikaela Fleenor, Emily Latulippe and Izzy McClelland, hope to figure into the mix somehow and provide a glimpse at the program's bright future. Freeport will be tested by several strong league foes, but now that this group knows how to win, it should be able to stay confident and successful. If all goes well, the Falcons will get back to the playoffs, something which hasn't happened in back-to-back years since 2001-04.

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

Photo: Moine Sebastien

Senior Emily Sturtevant is a top returning defender for a Freeport girls' lacrosse team which has been near the top of the heap the past couple seasons.

Photo: Brian Beard

Sophomore Nina Moore will play a bigger role this season.

Photo: Michael Strout

Junior Lizzie Martin will be a key contributor for the Falcons in the midfield this season.

Photo:

Senior Harrison Stivers has been on a roll, indoors and out and hopes to cap his high school career with more championships.