Waynflete Flyers Spring Sports Preview

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It’s become a rite of spring, Waynflete’s boys’ tennis team winning a Class C state title. Last year was the Flyers’ ninth in a row and they’re favored to make it 10 straight in June.

File photos.

More photos below.

BASEBALL

Coach: Paul Grazia (fourth year, 15-31 overall record)

2016 record: 3-11 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Tim Clifford (Senior), Tyler Cutrone (Senior), Josh Lodish (Senior), Peterson Silk (Senior), Nick Hagler (Junior), Max Winson (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 24 NYA, May 5 GRAY-NG, May 8 OOB, May 10 NYA, May 17 @ Sacopee, May 19 SACOPEE, May 24 @ OOB

Coach’s comments: “I’m very excited about this upcoming season. We lost our top hitter and pitcher from last season, so we have some holes to fill. Fortunately, the team has been working hard throughout the winter and this spring. Tyler and Peterson will look to head a deep pitching staff and Josh and Tim will be key pieces in our lineup. We’re also excited to have Nick and Max returning and to see them assume increasing roles this spring. It will be exciting to see the team continue to come together on the field, compete, and challenge themselves every game. Our schedule is tough and all the teams our conferences are competitive. If we continue to work hard and some new players step in and have an impact, I think we could have a very successful season and make a push to the playoffs. As always, pitching and defense are key and remain an emphasis in our program. We have returning four pitchers from last year and I believe that they will continue to develop and perform well this season.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Waynflete is primed to make a move up the standings this spring and if all goes well, the Flyers could end their three-year playoff drought.

Cutrone is the top returning pitcher (4.74 earned run average last season). He’s also play first base. Hagler, Silk and Winson will also see time on the mound. Offensively, Winson, a third baseman when he isn’t pitching, batted .346 last spring and could be in for a dominant season, and Lodish (outfield) led the team with 10 runs batted in. Clifford (outfield), Hagler (who will catch when he’s not pitching) and Silk (shortstop when he’s not on the mound) also have experience.

Waynflete will play several games against teams that it will be battling for playoff spots, so wins in those contests will be paramount. If the Flyers can gain some early confidence, that will go a long way toward earning an elusive postseason berth.

BOYS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Dan Thomsen (fifth year, 34-21 overall record)

2016 record: 9-5 (Lost, 15-8, to Cape Elizabeth in Class B South semifinal)

Top returning players: Will Armstrong (Junior), Hank Duvall (Junior), Makany Parr (Junior), John Veroneau (Junior), Miles Lipton (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 26 FREEPORT, May 1 @ Freeport, May 3 GREELY, May 11 FALMOUTH, May 13 GORHAM, May 19 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 26 NYA

Coach’s comment: “We have a young team this year, but what we lack in experience we hope to make up in effort and commitment. We have a couple of guys who move the ball well and if we can get some of the younger players involved, we should be able to generate good play on both ends of the field. We are hoping to get better every day we’re on the field and gain valuable experience as we play through our challenging schedule. We look forward to playing some of the best teams in the state and hope to be at the top of our game when we face them.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Waynflete has won 19 games the past two seasons, its best two-year stretch this century. The Flyers look to remain a contender this spring and close the gap between them and perennial powerhouses Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth.

Armstrong returns in goal. He’ll help keep Waynflete in games. Veroneau anchors the defense. He’ll be joined by freshman Luca Antolini. Parr will be a long-stick middie who will make life tough on opposing attackmen and also take faceoffs. On offense, Duvall (last year’s leading scorer) and Lipton (25 goals as a freshman) will lead the way. The Flyers should have no trouble scoring goals.

Waynflete has some tough games on the slate, but for the most part, the Flyers will be able to contend with everyone they play. Look for this team to continue its winning ways and get to the playoffs for the fifth straight season. If all goes well, Waynflete could be the biggest threat to the defending state champion Yachtsmen and the always-strong Capers when all is said and done.

GIRLS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Cathie Connors (25th year, 277-58-1 overall record, 12 state championships)

2016 record: 9-5 (Lost, 10-2, to eventual state champion Kennebunk in Class B South semifinal)

Top returning players: Isabel Canning (Senior),  Ali Pope (Senior), Laura Baginski (Junior), Izzy Burdick (Junior), LZ Olney (Junior), Ya Stockford (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 28 @ Yarmouth, April 29 @ Scarborough, May 3 GREELY, May 6 LAKE REGION, May 24 CAPE ELIZABETH, May 30 FALMOUTH, June 1 @ Kennebunk

Coach’s comment: “I love this team. It’s a great group. So much fun. I have six freshmen, including my goalie, and four sophomores, so we’re a young team. We do have a lot of lacrosse players and we’re putting it all together. All my midfielders are shooters, so we’ll balance out our scoring. The girls are very into it and they’re working hard. I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll be competitive in a tough region.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Waynflete is now four years removed from its last championship, but the Flyers’ 26 wins over the past three seasons are something that most programs would take in a heartbeat. This spring, it looks as if Waynflete is beginning to return to championship form as there is an abundance of talent on the roster, both veteran and unseasoned.

Canning was a second-team league all-star last spring and will be the backbone of this squad, taking draws and controlling play in the midfield. She can score as well (two goals and five assists in Thursday’s 16-2 win at NYA in the season opener). Burdick, a three-year starter, who scored four times on Opening Night, Baginski and Pope will also be midfielders to watch. On attack, look for Olney and Stockford, along with freshmen Eliza Gervais and Emily Wagg, to finish their share of opportunities. Pope will be a key on defense, along with sophomore Emi Boedecker, who will also take draws. Connors is excited about freshman goalie Avis Akers. The Flyers have had their share of goalies play multiple seasons and Akers will be the next in that mold. Several other players will get a chance to shine as the season progresses.

Waynflete has its hands full in Class B South. Not only does reigning state champion Kennebunk reside in the region, but this year’s odds-on favorite, Falmouth, does as well. Then you mix in traditional rivals like Cape Elizabeth and Greely, and new rivals, Lake Region and York, along with out-of-region tests against the likes of Cheverus, Scarborough and Yarmouth, and it’s going to be tough sledding. This team has what it takes to evolve into a power by June. The future is bright and the present should be very exciting. Don’t be surprised if the Flyers wind up playing in some very big games by the end of the season.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: Ziggy Gillespie (11th year)

2016 results:

(Boys) Tie-31st @ Class C state meet

(Girls) No score @ Class C state meet

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Willson Moore (Senior), Henry Spritz (Sophomore)

(Girls) Elizabeth Ralston (Senior), Emily Tabb (Senior), Abby Pipkin (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “We’ll train with Cheverus, then we’ll run the WMC meet as a Waynflete team. We have several kids who should qualify for states.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Waynflete is going at it a different way this spring, joining Cheverus during the regular season, then hoping to make some noise by itself in the postseason.

The boys’ team features Spritz, who will be in contention in the mile.

On the girls’ side, Pipkin will be a force in the mile, Ralston competes in the 800 and Tabb will contend in the racewalk. That group should have a very successful season before all is said and done.

BOYS’ TENNIS

Coach: Jeff Madore (11th year, nine state championships)

2016 record: 14-2 (Defeated George Stevens Academy, 4-1, to win ninth straight Class C state championship)

Top returning players: Brandon Ameglio (Senior), John Van Dyke (Senior), Jacob Greene (Junior), Owen Hoffsten (Junior), Shuhao Liu (Junior), Nick Wagg (Junior), Thorne Kieffer (Sophomore), Cooper Sherman (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “Our team strength is a large number of returning players and some are very experienced. We hope to have three players qualify for the state singles tournament and we also hope all our players stay healthy and that the weather warms up soon.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: The Waynflete Dynasty shows no signs of relenting. Last year, the Flyers did what they always do in June, raise a trophy to the heavens, and with an abundance of talent returning, Waynflete is the clear favorite to win a 10th successive championship.

Ameglio and Greene were league all-stars in 2016 and will serve as captains this spring. They’re joined by Hoffsten, Kieffer, Liu, Sherman, Van Dyke and Wagg, who will vie for starting roles. If that’s not enough to keep opposing coaches awake at night, the Flyers bring on three newcomers, senior Tim Laprade, junior Alan Wen and sophomore Chris Register, who will also be in the mix, providing key depth.

Waynflete will face some challenges during the regular season, but if it can stay healthy, it will be primed for greatness in the postseason. It’s hard to see this train being derailed anytime soon.

GIRLS’ TENNIS

Coach: Linda Cohen (11th year, four state championships)

2016 record: 8-7 (Lost, 4-1, to eventual state champion St. Dom’s in Class C South Final)

Top returning players: Sidara Cash Sortwell (Senior), Lexi Epstein (Senior), Randall Seder (Senior), Molly McNutt (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “My roster is littered with seniors. I only lost one player to graduation and two players returning from injury has helped me field an experienced lineup. Their return will help bolster the lineup. Now we just need some spring weather.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Waynflete enjoyed a nice playoff run a year ago before finally being ousted by St. Dom’s. This spring, the Flyers have the pieces in place to make a run at their first state championship since 2014.

Epstein made the All-Conference singles first-team last season and will play first singles, measuring herself against some of the state’s finest players. Senior Kiera MacWhinnie, back this season from injury, is in the singles mix as well. Cash Sortwell and McNutt, doubles all-stars in 2016, along with Seder, are among a group of several players vying for the No. 3 singles spot and doubles teams. Seniors Annika Brooks, Almu Canales and Kiera MacWhinnie (who returns from injury), junior Hana Delaney, sophomores Lily Fanburg and Chloe Fisher (another player coming back from injury) and newcomer Gabby Eng are all looking to contribute to the cause. There is certainly no shortage of talent on this roster.

Waynflete will again play a daunting schedule, which includes Class A champion Falmouth, Class B champion Cape Elizabeth and Class C champion St. Dom’s. The Flyers don’t care where they finish in the standings. They want to be playing their best in June and if they are, look out, a shiny trophy could be the end result.

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

Senior Isabel Canning will do it all for Waynflete’s promising girls’ lacrosse team, including taking draws.

Junior Izzy Burdick is a key member of Waynflete’s midfield.

Junior LZ Olney also has experience for the Flyers.

Miles Lipton had a strong freshman season for the Flyers and will be a player to watch this spring.

Junior Hank Duvall and his Waynflete boys’ lacrosse teammates are hoping to be a top contender this season.

Willson Moore is coming off a stellar Nordic ski season. He’ll be a force in the distance races this spring for Waynflete’s boys’ outdoor track team.

Senior Elizabeth Ralston hopes to score in the 800 for the Waynflete girls’ track team.

Emily Tabb returns as one of the top racewalkers in the conference.

Thorne Kieffer had a solid freshman season for Waynflete’s boys’ tennis team. He’ll play a key role again this spring.

Junior Shuhao Liu is another key returner for the nine-time defending champs.

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