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Greely Rangers Spring Sports Preview

Sports

Greely Rangers Spring Sports Preview

Greely's spring sports teams will be in the mix across the board. Baseball is coming off its second state championship in three seasons and despite roster turnover, has to be considered one of the favorites again. Softball could be primed for a deep run. Boys' lacrosse will hold its own against most foes, while the girls' squad looks to rebound and return to its winning ways. Both track teams are deep and talented. Boys' tennis has been a solid contender in recent seasons and should be in the mix again. The girls' squad hopes to post a winning mark and get back to the postseason.

BASEBALL

Coach: Derek Soule (11th year)

2009 Record: 16-4 (Beat Gardiner 2-0 to win Class B state championship)

Top returning players: Dan O'Brion (Senior), Jake Whiting-Kooy (Senior), Matt Labbe (Junior), Mike Leeman (Sophomore), Pete Stauber (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 30 (H) YORK, May 3 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 5 @ Falmouth, May 18 (H) YARMOUTH, May 24 (H) FALMOUTH, May 28 @ Yarmouth, June 2 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH

Coach's comment: “Scoring runs could be a problem for us. We graduated our top six spots in the order. Our goal is to make the playoffs.”

The Forecaster's forecast: For the second time in three years, Greely got hot at the right time and went on to win the Class B state title last spring. The Rangers lost nine seniors and the core of their team, but befitting their status as a perennial contender, will reload and once again be in the hunt. In Soule's 10 years as coach, Greely has averaged 14 wins per season and has reached the regional final on six occasions. This spring, without a clear-cut favorite, the Rangers will still be among the best. Greely got off to a promising start last week with a 10-9, eight inning, come from behind win, at Lake Region. The Rangers tied the score in the seventh, then got the game-winning RBI from senior Ben Russell. Greely, as always, will be led by its pitchers. This year, Whiting-Kooy (2-1 in 2009), O'Brion (1-0 last year) and Leeman will see a lot of innings. The offense is led by Stauber (the catcher) and Labbe (shortstop, .265 with 10 RBI in 2009). A pair of newcomers should help the cause. Junior outfielder Justin Moore and sophomore second baseman Brad McKenney hope to become part of Greely lore. The Rangers will need to generate offense on a consistent basis to remain at or near the top of the heap. The pitching figures to take care of itself. It might take awhile for Soule to push all the right buttons, but Greely should have no trouble extending its streak of winning seasons and postseason berths to 23. By June, the Rangers will be among the last teams standing. Again.

SOFTBALL

Coach; Mike Robb (third year)

2009 Record: 10-8 (Lost 4-3, in 10 innings, to Maranacook in Western Class B quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Marika Stayte (Senior), Mary Zambello (Senior), Katie Whittum (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 30 (H) YORK, May 3 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 5 @ Falmouth, May 10 @ Fryeburg, May 12 (H) GRAY-NG, May 18 (H) YARMOUTH, May 24 (H) FALMOUTH, May 28 @ Yarmouth, June 2 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH

Coach's comment: “This group has played quite a bit of softball so I'm very optimistic. The girls know how to play. We have a pitcher in each class. Once we come together, I think we'll get better. The goal is to peak at the end of the year. We'll definitely be in the hunt. I'm very optimistic.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Greely is coming off its 11th straight winning season and looks like a lock to make it 12 based on the offensive fireworks it produced in the opener last week, an 18-6 romp over Lake Region. The Rangers got multiple hits from Whittum, freshman Danielle Cimino, junior Michaela Finnegan and sophomore Caroline Hamilton, something they hope will be a sign of things to come. Whittum (an outfielder) sets the table for the offense from her leadoff spot. Cimino will also see some time on the mound, but the majority of the pitching will be done by the talented Zambello (1.44 earned run average in 2009). Sophomore Edith Aromando is the catcher this spring. Stayte hopes to produce some offense as well. She hit .355 a year ago. Unfortunately for Greely, senior Erica Kahn (a reigning league all-star, who drove in 15 runs in 2009), will miss the year with an ACL injury, but it appears there are enough bats in her stead. Now that Cape Elizabeth and Fryeburg have come back to the pack, the door is wide open for a team like the Rangers to make a move. Greely should get solid pitching all season. If the Rangers can produce runs consistently and play good defense, they could enjoy a very strong regular campaign and make a playoff run.

BOYS' LACROSSE

Coach: Casey Abbott (third year)

2009 Record: 6-7 (Lost 17-5 to Falmouth in Western Class B semifinals)

Top returning players: Sean Mullin (Senior), Teddy Russell (Senior), Nick Rotondi (Junior), Austin Spencer (Junior), Michael Tuller (Junior), Paul Witte (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 27 (H) NYA, May 3 (H) WAYNFLETE, May 11 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 18 @ Freeport, May 25 (H) YARMOUTH, June 1 @ Yarmouth

Coach's comment: “We have a very exciting team this year. We should be a lot stronger. We'll be strong on offense. We're attack heavy. We might be a little weaker on defense, but we should be able to pull it together. We're still a pretty young team. We have a good work ethic and a lot of heart, just like we did two years ago. We hope to do well and go far in the playoffs.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Two years ago, Greely was a feel-good story as it made it to the regional final before losing to Cape Elizabeth. Last spring, the Rangers never truly hit their stride and really struggled against the elite foes. This time around, Greely should continue its run of making the playoffs every year this decade and be a formidable foe. The Rangers opened with a flourish last week, downing Wells, 11-2, behind four goals from Rotondi and two goals and six assists from Witte. Russell (a second-team all-star in 2009) is the player the opposition is most worried about. He had 18 goals in 2009 and also gobbles up groundballs, as do Spencer (the faceoff man), Rotondi and Witte. Tuller is also in the offensive mix. Greely could score a lot of goals between now and mid-June. On defense, Mullin returns after seeing limited action last year and is joined by freshman Sven Jacobsen in front of new goalie, sophomore Griffin Demick. The Rangers have an easier schedule this spring, but it gets very tough at the end when they play arguably the two best squads entering the season, Falmouth and defending champion Yarmouth. Greely should be able to improve upon last year's record and will be a force in what could be a deep Western B playoff field. If the Rangers continue to score, stay solid on defense and believe that they can compete, they'll be a force to be reckoned with in the postseason.

GIRLS' LACROSSE

Coach: Peter Wiles (16th year)

2009 Record: 4-9 (Lost 12-9 to Falmouth in Western Class B quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Hannah Dexter (Senior), Melanie Howland (Senior), Kelsey Ouellette (Senior), Kylie Ross (Senior), Kelly Burrell (Junior), Audrey Parolin (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 28 @ Waynflete, April 30 (H) YARMOUTH, May 6 (H) NYA, May 10 @ Falmouth, May 12 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 15 (H) KENNEBUNK, May 18 (H) WAYNFLETE, May 26 @ Yarmouth, May 28 @ NYA

Coach's comment: “We have a tough schedule. It seems like it's tougher than ever. We've got our work cut out. I think we'll have a pretty solid team. We have some good athletes. We'd like to make the playoffs.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Greely has won 103 games and has made the playoffs every year since the Maine Principals' Association began sponsoring girls' lacrosse in 1998, but the Rangers face a big-time uphill climb to reach the postseason this spring. It's bad enough that Greely has to face longtime nemesis Waynflete, the two-time Class B champion, two times. The Rangers also draw perennial Eastern B powerhouses NYA and Yarmouth twice, along with Kennebunk and up-and-coming regional rivals Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth once apiece. Greely will need to win several of those games to keep its playoff streak alive. Now, for the good news. The Rangers, as always, have some very talented athletes who will help the cause. Dexter returns in goal. She's aided defensively by Ouellette. Parolin is coming off a solid freshman campaign and will handle draws. Burrell, Howland and Ross all bring myriad skills to the attack and each should score their share. Greely always has other players step up and will need that to happen immediately as the Rangers open at Waynflete, then host Yarmouth. Greely has been a first-rate program for a long time, but will need a lot of things to fall in its favor this year. The players are up to the challenge. By season's end, the opposition better hope the Rangers fall short, because if they run the gauntlet of this schedule and make it to the postseason, no one will want to be standing on the other side of the field.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: John Folan (16th year)

2009 Results:

(Boys) 4th @ Class B State Meet

(Girls) 3rd @ Class B State Meet

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Pat Bowden (Senior), Alex Cameron (Senior), Andrew Hunter (Senior), John Madeira (Senior), Mark McCauley (Senior), Logan Price (Senior), Colin Thomas (Senior), Matt Davis (Junior), Jack Fellows (Junior), Jon Higgins (Junior), Caleb King (Junior), Conor Regan (Junior), Tanner Storey (Junior), Jeff Aalberg (Sophomore), Nestor Taylor (Sophomore)

(Girls) Michaela Campbell (Senior), Abby Diehl (Senior), Anna Maine (Senior), Bethany Powers (Senior), Caroline Thomas (Senior), Hannah Werneth (Senior), Emily Christensen (Junior), Meaghan Crowley (Junior), Katherine Harrington (Junior), Stella Keck (Junior), Dee Little (Junior), Elizabeth Morrone (Junior), Kerry O'Shea (Junior), Anna Whitaker (Junior), Abby Bonnevie (Sophomore), Emily Curato (Sophomore), Melissa Jacques (Sophomore), Julia Maine (Sophomore)

Top foes: Falmouth, York

Coach's comment: “The boys have a nice combination of youth and experience. It's a large team at about 45 athletes, so there is room for others to develop and contribute. Overall, the team should contend for a top-five finish or better at the state meet. The girls have a big team with youth and experience. We cover a lot of events well. There are lots of other veterans and newcomers among the 55-member team who will develop. This team aims to be competitive throughout the campaign.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Greely has a lot of reasons to believe that both its boys' and girls' outdoor track teams will make a run state titles.

The boys' squad is led by its distance standouts, most notably Winter Male Athlete of the Year McCauley (who won the 800 and was part of a state record-setting 3,200 relay team a year ago) and Fall Male Athlete of the Year Price (who was runner-up in the two-mile last spring). Bowden, Hunter, Madeira, Regan, Taylor and Isaac Emery provide depth in the longer races. In the sprints, keep an eye on Aalberg, King and new junior Alex Parenteau. Thomas will compete in the racewalk. On the field side, Storey (sixth in the high jump in 2009) is the other returning scorer and the team's top jumper. In the throws, Cameron, Fellows, Higgins and new junior Michael Burgess will be heard from. Davis looks to score in the pole vault. Defending champion Falmouth will be tough to counter, but the Rangers have the potential to score a lot of points and be a top threat in the regular season and in June, as they chase their first state crown since 2003.

On the girls' side, Greely has been in the top four at the state meet for 19 years running, but hasn't won it all since 2005. This year's group hopes to get back to the top. Most of Greely's returning points are in the field events. Werneth was runner-up in the shot put and fourth in the discus last spring. Harrington came in second in the discus and seventh in the shot put. They'll be joined by Campbell and new sophomore Cassidy Storey. Curato was fifth in the pole vault a year ago. Bonnevie is another vaulter of note. In the jumps, Crowley, Julia Maine, Powers and freshman Kaley Sawyer will compete. On the track side, Christensen, Crowley, Diehl and Morrone scored in relays last season. This year, top sprinters include Christensen, Diehl, Keck, O'Shea and freshmen Molly Fitzpatrick and Kathleen McKersie. Morrone will look to score in the hurdles. Jacques, Little, Anna Maine, new sophomores Shannon Fitzpatrick and Sara Schad and freshman Sarah Fitch make up a strong distance contingent. Thomas will take part in the racewalk and Whitaker will do a little of everything, with sprints perhaps being her strength. Good luck to the rest of the league matching up with that kind of talent and depth. Greely has a great chance to steal headlines all season.

BOYS' TENNIS

Coach: Bert Kendall (fifth year)

2009 Results: 8-6 (Lost 4-1 to Falmouth in Western Class B semifinals)

Top returning players: Nick Aalberg (Senior), Stephen Hayes (Senior), Will Hemond (Senior), Ben Marchese (Senior), Stephen Proulx (Senior), Peter Balinson (Junior), Bobby Dorr (Junior), Sam Mason (Junior), Tucker Vogel (Junior)

Pivotal matches: April 28 @ York, April 30 @ Falmouth, May 5 @ Yarmouth, May 10 (H) FALMOUTH, May 17 (H) WAYNFLETE, May 19 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 24 (H) YORK

Coach's comment: “We have four newcomers who should make an impact. We'll have a rebuilding year. We need depth at both singles and doubles. We don't have a solid second doubles team at this point and hope that someone steps up in challenges to become No. 3 singles. We've made the playoffs my four years, with our best team last year, so trying to play over .500 in the state's toughest tennis league will be our goal.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Greely has been very steady this decade, winning the program's lone title in 2001 and making the playoffs every year since. This year's team should have enough to make the postseason, but it will face its share of challenges, especially from the first rate teams in the league. Hayes and Hemond had singles spots locked down at press time. New sophomore Ryan McKenna and freshman Patrick Riley have a shot at another singles position. Balinson and Mason were projected to be first doubles. Aalberg, Dorr, Marchese, Proulx and Vogel were vying for the other spots, along with new juniors, hockey standouts John Downey and Justin Murphy. There are some unknowns with this team, but there is also a lot of promise and athleticism. Look for the Rangers to develop into a very strong team by season's end, one capable of springing an upset or two if they get back to the playoffs.

GIRLS' TENNIS

Coach: Devi Maganti (13th year)

2009 Results: 3-9 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Leah Churchill (Senior), Marissa Goding (Senior), Taylor Roach (Senior), Chelsea Pine (Junior), Marina Goding (Sophomore), Libby Thomas (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: April 26 @ NYA, April 28 (H) YORK, May 5 (H) YARMOUTH, May 10 @ Falmouth, May 17 @ Waynflete, May 19 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 21 (H) NYA, May 24 @ Cape Elizabeth

Coach's comment: “We lost some very good players. It's going to be tough. I have no expectations this year. My goal is to be positive and we'll give it our all. We'll see if we can make it to the playoffs.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Last year, Greely missed the postseason for the first time since 2000. For the Rangers to get back this spring, several players will have to step up. Pine will play first singles this season. She's joined on the singles side by Thomas and Marina Goding. The first doubles team figures to be made up by Churchill and Roach. Marissa Goding will see time at doubles as well. Greely will face some tough early tests and has very few favorable matchups on its schedule. With that said, the Rangers are capable of springing upsets. Maganti might not have expectations, but she's hoping for improvement. That should be evident over the next month.

Photo: File photo

Junior Matt Labbe anchors the Greely infield this year at shortstop.

Photo: File photo

Senior Jacob Whiting-Kooy projects to be one of Greely's ace pitchers this spring as the Rangers chase another championship.

Photo: File photo

Senior Mary Zambello is coming off a stellar junior season on the mound and will look to lead Greely's softball team deep into the playoffs in 2010.

Photo: File photo

Senior Logan Price is a threat to win his share of distance glory this spring.