North Yarmouth Academy Panthers Spring Sports Preview

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Junior Josh Soucy is a returning league all-star for North Yarmouth Academy’s boys’ tennis team, which is hoping to make the playoffs this spring.

File photos.

More photos below.

BASEBALL

Coach: Tyler Walsh (second year)

2017 record: 7-8 (Lost, 8-2, to Greenville in Class D South quarterfinal)

Top returning players: Connor Dillon (Senior), Jackson Linscott (Junior), Joe Strabley (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 19 RICHMOND, April 25 @ OOB, May 17 @ Richmond, May 26 OOB

Coach’s comment: “This year’s team is much younger than last. We may have lost some hitting power, but we have more speed and on-base ability. Pitching and Jackson catching should be our strengths along with a strong infield. We’ll always work hard, smart and compete day-in and day-out.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: NYA is coming off its second straight playoff appearance and despite losing some key players, including all-stars Galen Arnold, Haven Cutko and Dana Nichols, should be in contention again this spring.

Dillon and Strabley will lead the pitching brigade, with sophomore Jared Buckner and freshmen Will Jackson and Anders Jonsson also seeing time on the mound. Linscott will be a stabilizing influence behind the plate. Strabley will be at shortstop when he’s not pitching. Buckner and Jackson will also have an opportunity to play on the infield. Jonsson is a top outfielder.

The Panthers are used to competing and they should be one of the better squads in Class D South once again. This team might suffer some growing pains, but by June, no one will want to meet NYA with its season hanging in the balance.

BOYS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Glenn Gorden (second year)

2017 record: 5-7 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Connor Clock (Senior), Ryan Baker (Junior), Xander Kostelnik (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 25 @ Freeport, April 28 GARDINER, May 1 @ Yarmouth, May 9 WAYNFLETE, May 16 @ Greely, May 30 @ Wells

Coach’s comment: “We underwent a building year last year and look to build on our record. With most of our top players returning, it looks like a positive year. Our goal is to return NYA to the dominant program that it once was.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: NYA missed the playoffs last spring for the first time since 1995, but the program is poised to return to contention this season. Gorden, who took over early in the season a year ago, played at Yarmouth High School and the University of Denver and coached at Brown University and Denver. He has some pieces to work with this season.

Clock will spark the offense as the faceoff specialist. He’s joined in the midfield by veterans Baker and Kostelnik and freshman Jonah Eng. Sophomore Mason Parks is a name to watch at attack. Sophomore Will Tatge will be in goal. Several other players hope to make an impact in the weeks to come.

With lacrosse going to three classes this season, the Panthers find themselves in Class C with other smaller programs and several teams that are new to the varsity level. NYA has a chance to not only increase its win total this spring, but to make a deep playoff run if all goes well. Look for the program to begin its return to prominence this year.

GIRLS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Molly Climo (third year)

2017 record: 2-10 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Charlotte Collins (Senior), Helen Hamblett (Junior), Amber Rose (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 12 GREELY, April 25 @ Lake Region, May 1 @ Yarmouth, May 8 FREEPORT, May 11 @ MGA, May 19 DEERING

Coach’s comment: “We’re excited for what the season holds. Our team is very young. About 60 percent are first-year players or sophomores, but they have a ton of athletic ability. That ability will serve us well this year. If we can successfully fine-tune some of our stick skills and build up even more conditioning, we’ll have a very successful season.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: After falling short of the postseason three years running, NYA looks to get back in the playoff mix this spring in the newly formed Class C.

Collins was an honorable mention league all-star in 2017. She’ll play a key role in the midfield, along with Hamblett, who, along with Rose and senior Lincoln Hamblett, will all see time in the draw circle. Rose could be a top scorer. Freshman Natalie Farrell is a newcomer to watch. Sophomore Maya Davis will be in goal.

The Panthers will show steady improvement in the weeks to come and if they can get into the postseason, they would have a great opportunity to stick around awhile. This could be a season to remember.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: Chris Mazzurco (23rd year, four state championships)

2017 results:
(Boys) 17th @ Class C state meet

(Girls) 28th @ Class C state meet

Top returning athletes:
(Boys) Reece Bartolini (Senior), Rick Hilscher (Senior), Kieran Rowe (Senior), Jack Sillin (Senior), Jack Lent (Junior), Te’Andre King (Sophomore)

(Girls) Alex Braunfels (Junior), Ellie Hilscher (Sophomore), Eliza Tod (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “The numbers on both teams are back up again and we have strong interest in the majority of the events. We have a healthy balance of experienced athletes and newcomers and are looking forward to a successful season of personal bests and high level competition. The experienced athletes have set lofty goals for the end of the season while the newcomers are progressing very quickly.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: NYA has encouraging numbers this spring and that should spell success for many athletes in the weeks to come.

The boys’ team returns King, who placed fourth in the high jump a year ago. He could move up this season. Bartolini and Sillin will contend in the throws. Lent is a top hurdler and Hilscher and Rowe will be heard from in the longer races. The Panthers should show steady improvement and have what it takes to move up the standings at the state meet.

The girls’ squad returns Braunfels (jumps), Hilscher (racewalk) and Tod (distance). Junior Ellie Griswold is new and will compete in the throws. This team will also make some noise as the season progresses and will be at its best for the championship meets.

BOYS’ TENNIS

Coach: Charlie Hudson (40th year, two state championships)

2017 record: 2-10 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Troy Hou (Senior), Abram Buehner (Junior), Miles Chapman (Junior), Reid Silvers (Junior), Josh Soucy (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “It’s a small group, but most of the guys are back this year. We expect to improve. We’d like to get to .500 or better. Getting to the playoffs is the goal.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: NYA wasn’t able to make it to the playoffs a year ago, but that could change this spring.

Soucy was a second-team league all-star a year ago. He’ll play first singles this spring. Chapman and Silvers had the inside track on the other singles positions at press time. The doubles mix includes Buehner, Hou, sophomore Samson Shen and freshman Reese Merritt.

The Panthers have some tough foes on their slate, especially early in the season, but they should be able to win enough matches to be in the hunt for a postseason berth. If NYA qualifies, it might just stick around awhile.

GIRLS’ TENNIS

Coach: Gavin Glider (first year)

2017 record: 2-10 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Hannah Gagne (Junior), Carson Hassett (Junior), Avery Jackson (Junior), Alex Markonish (Junior), Afton Morton (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “We’re relatively young with only one senior. We have some new girls who are good athletes. We want to grow as a team and find some success. It would be nice if we could make a postseason appearance.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: NYA fell short of the postseason last spring for the first time since 2012, but the Panthers have what it takes to return to form this season. The program welcomes a new coach in Glider, who previously spent four years coaching the Windham boys’ program. Glider is also the Alpine ski coach for Yarmouth High School. He inherits a squad that could be primed to make a leap up the standings.

NYA will be led by Morton, who will play first singles. The reigning second-team league all-star will go up against some of the best players in the state this spring. Hassett projects to play second singles. Gagne, Jackson and Markonish were vying at press time for the third singles spot.

The Panthers should show steady improvement as the season moves along and a playoff berth is a realistic goal. That would be a nice step for a group that will return almost entirely intact next spring and be primed to advance even deeper.

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

Junior Jackson Linscott returns behind the plate for NYA’s baseball team, which got to the playoffs a year ago.

Senior Connor Clock is a faceoff specialist for NYA’s boys’ lacrosse team.

Senior Charlotte Collins is a key returner for the NYA girls’ lacrosse squad.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.