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Yarmouth Clippers Spring Sports Preview

Sports

Yarmouth Clippers Spring Sports Preview

Yarmouth expects to be competitive across the board this spring season. Boys' and girls' lacrosse both made it to the state final a year ago, but lost. This time around, each squad believes it's their turn. Baseball has been a playoff regular for years and despite losing a ton to graduation, expects to be in the mix again. Softball has several talented players and can't be overlooked. Indoor track features some stellar athletes of both genders. Boys' and girls' tennis are primed for bounce-back seasons and hope to make the playoffs.

BASEBALL

Coach: Marc Halsted (eighth year, 83-44 overall record)

2013 record: 10-7 (Lost, 14-1, to York in Western B quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Jordan Brown (Junior), Connor Lainey (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 28 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 7 @ Greely, May 21 @ Falmouth, May 23 @ York, May 30 FALMOUTH, June 3 KENNEBUNK

Coach's comment: “We have no returning players. We graduated 12 players, including eight starters, and four of our five top pitchers. We graduated over 90 percent of our at-bats and innings pitched and we have only one senior in the program. Connor is the only player returning who has more than one hit at the varsity level. We're going to be young, athletic and high-energy. For me, it's a totally different type of excited. In the past, I've been excited about the extraordinary potential of proven players. Now, I'm excited by the sheer talent and physical abilities of the sophomores and juniors in our program. It's wide open and highly competitive every single day around here. I can't wait to see who rises to the challenge.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Yarmouth rose to the occasion in its opener, beating host Cape Elizabeth, 5-1, suggesting that it might just survive in a challenging league this spring. Halsted is a wizard at making the most of his roster and utilizing every player to the best of their ability. Brown did see limited time on the mound in 2013, going 1-0 with a 3.40 earned run average and striking out five in just over 10 innings of work. In the opener, Brown threw five scoreless innings and earned the victory. Lainey, who had a pair of hits against the Capers, will be expected to pace the offense. Lainey hit .267 last season with 12 hits and 14 RBI. From there, it's a lot of questions. The Clippers won't have many easy games, but they will find a way to be competitive against everyone. This group will play hard throughout, learn a lot and should improve dramatically in the weeks to come. Don't be surprised if when the playoffs roll around, for the ninth year in a row, Yarmouth is there. Whatever this year's team accomplishes, future Clippers editions will reap the benefits.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Amy McMullin (second year, 9-9 overall record)

2013 record: 9-9 (Lost, 9-3, to Greely in Western B quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Julia Anastos (Senior), Monica Austin (Senior), Melissa Levinson (Senior), Kallie Hutchinson (Junior), Michelle Robichaud (Junior), Mari Cooper (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 28 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 2 FRYEBURG, May 5 GRAY-NG, May 7 @ Greely, May 14 POLAND, May 16 @ Wells, May 21 @ Falmouth, May 30 FALMOUTH

Coach's comment: “After losing only two seniors, we're excited about our core of returners, especially our infield. We have a great group of seniors who we're going to lean on all season long. Losing both varsity pitchers from last year will force us to become creative defensively. We'll have youth on the mound, but we're extremely excited about their growth in the offseason. If we can rally behind our pitchers and put the ball in play offensively, then we're hoping for a productive season.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Yarmouth was very competitive a year ago, handing Cape Elizabeth its lone regular season loss and giving powerhouse Fryeburg a scare. The Clippers bring a lot back this spring and expect to compete again, even though there are some holes to fill. Yarmouth opened with a 6-3 loss at Cape Elizabeth Thursday, but you could see the potential. Better days are ahead. Cooper is expected to see most of the time on the mound, but she was injured early and Thompson started the opener. Freshman Andrea St. Pierre will also see some time on the hill. The Clippers will be one of the better hitting teams in the league. Hutchinson, the catcher, has pop. Sophomore Colleen Sullivan, an outfielder, will see time in the leadoff spot. Austin, the shortstop, who will play golf at Elon University in North Carolina next year, hits second and can do a little of everything with a bat. Anastos (second base), Levinson (first base), Cooper (outfield), Robichaud (outfield), Thompson, sophomore outfielders Breanna Morrill and Eleanor O'Gorman and senior third baseman Abby Nielsen, a transfer from Greely who crushed a prodigious three-run home run through the wind at Cape Elizabeth, are other potential top hitters. Freshman Sydney St. Pierre will see some pinch-hitting duty. Yarmouth will stay in games by virtue of its bats and if the pitching can hold the opposition at bay, this group will once again be among the better teams in the league. A return trip to the playoffs is a distinct possibility.

BOYS' LACROSSE

Coach: David Pearl (third year, 21-10 overall record)

2013 record: 12-4 (Lost 7-4, to Cape Elizabeth in Class B state final)

Top returning players: Thomas Lord (Senior), Brady Neujahr (Senior), Matt Woodbury (Senior), Henry Oliva (Junior), Joe Oliva (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 29 CAPE ELIZABETH, May 2 @ Greely, May 10 @ Brunswick, May 13 @ NYA, May 16 SOUTH PORTLAND, May 20 FALMOUTH, May 28 KENNEBUNK, May 31 @ Cape Elizabeth, June 6 NYA

Coach's comment: “We're a team without standouts, but we have great athletes who are learning the game. Our strength this year will be our defense. We graduated a lot of seniors from offense, so we'll need to find ourselves. I have great kids who want to win. After coming close last year, they're hungry.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Yarmouth got back to what it feels is its rightful place, the state final, after three years away last spring and even though they fell short against a talented Cape Elizabeth squad, the Clippers had to be happy with their season. Now, Yarmouth seeks its first crown since 2009 and while several key players, including four all-stars, graduated, this crew has the necessary ingredients to get the job done. Lord was a second-team league all-star in 2013 and will anchor the defense this season. Lord will join with Henry Oliva and Woodbury, a longstick middie, to stymie the opposition. Their role will be pivotal as the Clippers have to replace graduated goalie Sam Landry. Junior Connor Hoehle will get the nod and shows great promise. Yarmouth did struggle scoring consistently against top-rate defenses a year. This year, the Clippers will have to find a way. The attack will feature Neujahr, Joe Oliva and senior Isaac Dearden, who is overcoming injury. Senior Max Watson, a three-sport standout, and sophomore Walter Conrad, who, along with Neujahr, will take faceoffs, add depth and intensity. Good luck stopping them. There's plenty more in reserve, kids eager to make a name for themselves. Yarmouth will be tested often by its challenging schedule, but this appears to be the team to beat in Eastern B. The Clippers aren't going to be content with a regional plaque, however. A championship is the goal. Don't be surprised if Yarmouth accomplishes that mission come June 21.

GIRLS' LACROSSE

Coach: Dorothy Holt (10th year, 97-34 overall record, three state championships)

2013 record: 7-8 (Lost, 7-4, to Waynflete in Class B state final)

Top returning players: Abby Belisle-Haley (Senior), Molly Maguire (Senior), Grace O'Donnell (Senior), Julia Primeau (Senior). Lane Simsarian (Junior), Caitlin Teare (Junior), Ellie Teare (Junior), Emma Torres (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 26 @ Scarborough, April 30 WAYNFLETE, May 2 GREELY, May 5 @ Freeport, May 14 @ Kennebunk, May 20 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 22 NYA, May 28 FALMOUTH, May 31 @ Waynflete, June 2 BRUNSWICK, June 4 KENNEBUNK

Coach's comment: “I have great kids. We're seasoned in some places and young in others. We have seniors in key places and they'll carry this team. They tasted it last year and have a fire in their belly. There are a lot of good teams this year. Class B is loaded. It's going to be interesting. This group's been together for awhile. We're very excited. It's going to be a great season.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Yarmouth is very fired up about the season ahead and for good reason. After giving favored Waynflete a scare in last year's state game, the Clippers, who return a ton, feel they have a great shot at going all the way for the first time since 2011. There are premier athletes and multiple-sport stars up and down the roster. On attack, O'Donnell, a captain and Yarmouth's reigning Spring Female Athlete of the Year, could be primed for an All-American season. She was unstoppable at times last season, including a nine-goal outburst in a regional final victory over Morse. O'Donnell, who will play at Trinity College next year, played a bit role on the Clippers' last title winner and embraces the challenge of bowing out as a champion. While she'll score a lot of goals, there are several other girls for Yarmouth's foes to contend with. Maguire (an Academic All-American), senior Grace Mallett (Yarmouth's Fall Female Athlete of the Year) and junior Shannon Fallon can all get the job done in close, while a bevy of talented midfielders, a list which includes legendary program surnames Simsarian and Torres, along with others on the verge of enjoying breakout seasons like the Teare twins and freshman Eliza Lunt, will also pose matchup nightmares. On defense, captains Belisle-Haley and Primeau (who recently announced plans to play at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Penn.) set the tone. They're joined by juniors Mary Coyne and Sarah Meyer and sophomore Lauren Bartlett to make up a formidable unit in front of the one spot that's a question mark at the dawn of the season, goalie. Jordan Brown is not at Yarmouth this spring and she'll be missed, but Holt is hopeful that one of two younger girls will be able to step into the spot. Sophomore Sarah Kirk and freshman Mary Kate Glanville will both have an opportunity. As always, the Clippers' opening schedule is absolutely brutal, but this team will only get better no matter what happens in late April or early May. The first order of business is getting Holt her 100th with the program (she's three shy). From there, the bar is set high and Yarmouth welcomes the challenge. Three years ago, a special group of seniors bowed out in epic fashion with a championship. This senior class recognizes that its time is now. The Clippers will be a lot of fun to watch as they chase gold.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: Mike Griffin (first year)

2013 results:

(Boys) Tie-14th @ Class B state meet

(Girls) 13th @ Class B state meet

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Ben Decker (Senior), Travis Hamre (Senior), Darren Shi (Junior)

(Girls) Simone Laverdiere (Junior), Emma Egan (Sophomore)

Top foes: Falmouth, Freeport, Greely, Kennebunk, NYA, York

Coach's comment: “We may lack senior numbers, but we do not lack quality leadership. A great group of experienced athletes, who have competed at the highest level in the state, are providing outstanding mentorship to the rest of the team. We have set high standards for the season. We want to improve personal performance, be open to participating in more than one event in an effort develop team 'balance' between the throwing, jumping and running events and support teammates throughout the season.”`

The Forecaster's forecast: Yarmouth has several promising athletes to watch this spring. Griffin, an assistant with the program the past couple years and one-time Greely athletic director, takes over as head coach and has much to work with.

The boys' return reigning Spring Male Athlete of the Year Decker, who was runner-up in the 800 last season. He'll be a force at any distance and could wind up atop the podium. Shi also scored last year, placing fourth in the shot put. Coming off a second place showing in the shot put indoors, Shi will one of the best throwers in the conference. Hamre also returns. He's a top sprinter. Three newcomers add depth. Junior Sam Gerken competes in the middle distance. Classmate Gaelon Kolczynski is a potential scorer in the sprints and jumps. Freshman Tucker Whitney is another sprinter and jumper to watch. This group will be very competitive throughout the conference season and should make some noise at the conference and state championship meets.

On the girls' side, Egan is primed to become a champion. She was runner-up in the high jump and seventh in the long jump last year and also placed second in the high jump and the 55 indoors. She'll be one of the conference's premier sprinters and jumpers. Also returning is Laverdiere, who will contend in the middle and long distance races. Laverdiere is the school record holder in the indoor mile and hopes to join Egan as a scorer in big meets. If all goes well, Yarmouth could make a run at a top 10 state finish.

BOYS' TENNIS

Coach: Mark Marstaller (16th year, 111-92 overall record, one state championship)

2013 record: 1-11 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Braden Becker (Senior), Alex Coroi (Senior), Rhys Eddy (Senior), Henry Becker (Sophomore), Devin Shields-Auble (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: April 29 @ Falmouth, May 8 @ NYA, May 13 NYA, May 20 @ Waynflete, May 23 CAPE ELIZABETH

Coach's comment: “We have no year-round tennis players on our team. Most of my players play at least one other varsity sport. We're going to be fun to watch and we'll have a lot of fun playing. We were 1-11 last year, but I expect we'll be the comeback team of the year and end up with a winning record. With a favorable tournament seeding, we could go as far as the Western Maine finals..”

The Forecaster's forecast: Yarmouth has reason for its optimism this spring. The team should be able to dramatically improve on last year's record and be in the mix for a playoff spot. Braden Becker will be in the top singles spot, with Coroi playing second singles. Also vying for spots are Eddy, Shields-Auble and Henry Becker. New-to-the-team seniors and standout athletes Wes Crawford and Chandler Smith will also be heard from. The Clippers will show steady improvement and should be tough to contend with by the postseason. With defending champion Cape Elizabeth hard hit by graduation and perennial power Falmouth now in Class A for the playoffs, Yarmouth has a chance to not just get into the postseason, but perhaps make some noise once there.

GIRLS' TENNIS

Coach: Ann Harradon (18th year, 166-78 overall record, four state championships)

2013 record: 3-9 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Hannah Elrick (Senior), Sarah Oberink (Senior), Olivia Shay (Senior), Liz Clark (Sophomore), Morgan Hamre (Sophomore), Kenzie Sheehan (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: April 29 FALMOUTH, May 8 NYA, May 12 @ Greely, May 13 @ NYA, May 15 GREELY, May 20 WAYNFLETE, May 23 @ Cape Elizabeth

Coach's comment: “I have everyone back this year. With Falmouth playing in Class A for the tournament, I feel that Class B is wide open this year. It will be interesting to see which team will rise to the top. I hope to improve on last year's record and as always, we'll try to make the playoffs.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Yarmouth missed the playoffs last spring for the first time since 1987. That was an aberration and this year's team will make up for lost time. While the ladder was unknown at press time, Harradon was confident that Clark, Elrick, Hamre, Oberink, Shay and Sheehan would play key roles. New to the team are senior Arie Potter, junior Emily Parker and sophomore Danielle Laveredier and they'll all look to make a mark. The Clippers' preseason preparation has been hindered by bad weather (the courts were ice-laden into mid-April), but they'll be fine once the matches start. Yarmouth took its lumps last season, but will delivering some doses of payback in the weeks to come. The tournament appears wide open this spring, so the Clippers might not just make the tournament, they could waltz right in and make a deep run.

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

Photo: Michael Strout

Junior Connor Lainey is the top returning hitter for a Yarmouth baseball team which has a lot of holes to fill.

Photo: Michael Strout

Junior Jordan Brown will be Yarmouth's ace pitcher this spring.

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Senior Monica Austin will lead the Yarmouth softball team in the field from her shortstop position and at the plate.

Photo: Michael Strout

Senior Melissa Levinson will swing a hot bat this season.

Photo: Michael Strout

Cat Thompson was a clutch hitter as a freshman. She looks to continue that trend this spring.

Photo: Michael Strout

Junior Michelle Robichaud's gritty play epitomizes the effort Yarmouth will produce this spring.

Photo: Michael Strout

Senior Julia Anastos is another key returner for the Clippers.

Photo: Michael Strout

Senior Brady Neujahr will be a top offensive threat for a Yarmouth boys' lacrosse team looking to get back to the state game and finish the job.

Photo: Brian Beard

Junior Joe Oliva projects to score some key goals in the weeks to come.

Photo: Jason Veilleux

Senior Isaac Dearden will be heard from in the midfield.

Photo: Jason Veilleux

Senior Thomas Lord is a top returning defender for the Clippers.

Photo: Michael Strout

The defense of junior Henry Oliva will make life miserable for the opposition.

Photo: Michael Strout

Senior Julia Primeau will anchor Yarmouth's defensive efforts before taking her talents to Dickinson (Penn.) College.

Photo: Michael Strout

Junior Lane Simsarian will leave many opponents in her wake in the weeks to come.

Photo: Michael Strout

Junior Emma Torres will be a key player for the Clippers in the midfield.

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Senior Abby Belisle-Haley is a vocal leader, captain and tenacious defender.

Photo: Michael Strout

Junior Sarah Meyer is another top returning defender.

Photo: Jason Veilleux

Unheralded, but very dangerous, look for big things from senior Molly Maguire this season.

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Senior Ben Decker is looking to solidify his status as one of the top distance runners in the state.

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Sophomore Emma Egan is one of the state's rising track stars. She'll do very well in the sprints and jumps.