Yarmouth Clippers Spring Athletes of the Year

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Gibson Harnett

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Gretchen Barbera

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Male:

GIBSON HARNETT, Senior—Baseball

  • WMC all-star, first-team

  • WMC All-Academic team

  • Senior All-Star

  • Captain

Harnett rose from the depths of athletic despair in February to the absolute pinnacle in June, playing an integral role on one of the most improbable and inspirational championship runs in state annals.

Harnett started playing baseball in Little League, became a pitcher in the process and quickly fell in love with the sport.

“Baseball has always been my top sport,” Harnett said. “It creates great bonds and I enjoy the competitiveness.”

Harnett has won a pair of state titles in soccer and appeared bound for another this past winter in basketball as Yarmouth was the top seed in its region, but early in the regional final against Wells, Harnett suffered a deep head wound that sidelined him the rest of the game and the Clippers were upset.

Harnett’s baseball season would end much happier. And healthier.

Yarmouth entered the year as an unknown, as only Harnett and Chris Romano had ample varsity experience. The Clippers posted a solid 11-5 regular season record, as Harnett came up big on several occasions.

He had a pair of hits and scored the winning run in a dramatic season-opening home win over York, then threw a five-hit shutout with seven strikeouts against Fryeburg Academy, allowed two hits in a win over Lake Region, gave up three in a victory over defending regional champion Freeport, threw five shutout innings in a win over Traip Academy, produced three RBI in a loss to Falmouth and threw a three-hitter in a win over Kennebunk.

Yarmouth only garnered the No. 9 seed for the Class B South playoffs and little was expected, but in a span of less than two weeks, the Clippers rattled off five straight victories to win a shocking state title.

Harnett dominated Leavitt in the preliminary round, throwing a two-hitter and fanning nine in an 8-1 victory. After Yarmouth upset top-ranked Madison/Carrabec in the quarterfinals, Harnett got the ball again in the semifinals against No. 4 Cape Elizabeth and threw a five-hit shutout in a 2-0 win. Harnett scored a run on a squeeze bunt in a regional final victory over York, then got the honor of starting the state final against defending champion Old Town and Harnett wasn’t about to give the ball up. On the biggest stage, Harnett pitched the Clippers to their first Class B title, allowing just two hits on a mere 75 pitches in a 3-0 victory.

In 21 postseason innings, Harnett allowed one unearned run.

“It was pretty incredible,” Harnett said. “I had great teammates who believed in me and my family always believes in me. (Catcher) James Waaler was unbelievable all year. I planned to pitch the entire (state) game. I had visions of getting the final out. The way basketball ended was really tough. It took a lot out of me, but this made it much easier.”

Harnett finished the year with a record of 7-1 with one save and an 0.96 earned run average. He allowed just 11 walks and struck out 51 in 58.1 innings of work.

Harnett also batted .357, had a .400 on-base percentage, produced 24 hits, including eight doubles, scored 15 runs, drove in 10, stole seven bases and had a .938 fielding percentage.

Harnett is playing Legion baseball this summer and will attend the University of Connecticut next year. He wants to attempt to make the baseball team as a walk-on.

Anyone who knows Gibson Harnett, Yarmouth’s Spring Male Athlete of the Year, knows full well it wouldn’t be wise to bet against him. After a storybook ending to his high school baseball career, many more great things surely await.

Coach Marc Halsted’s comment: “Gibby is the single most competitive kid I’ve ever coached. He had a very good high school career. Way back in his sophomore year, when we were in Florida (in the preseason), I told one of my assistants he’d be starting in the playoffs and he did. He was so focused. He’s a grinder, exactly what Yarmouth baseball is all about. He’s incredibly coachable, fundamentally sound. He wanted to be a good leader and good baseball player. I wouldn’t be surprised if he found his way into a baseball uniform again.”

Previous winners:

2016 Matthew Beatty (lacrosse)

2015 Joe Oliva (lacrosse)

2014 Braden Becker (tennis)

2013 Ben Decker (tennis)

2012 Bryce Snyder (baseball)

2011 Campbell Belisle-Haley (baseball)

2010 Nick Whittaker (baseball)

2009 Rob Highland (lacrosse)

2008 Robb Arndt (baseball)

2007 Jon Poole (lacrosse)

2006 Hans Tobiason (lacrosse)

2005 Chris Hichborn (lacrosse)

2004 Jon Miller (lacrosse)

2003 Jared Harriman (lacrosse)

2002 Tim Kjeldgaard (lacrosse)

Female:

GRETCHEN BARBERA, Senior-Lacrosse

  • WMC all-star, first-team

  • WMC All-Academic team

  • Senior All-Star

Barbera was a defensive anchor and leader of a dominant Clippers squad which held the opposition at bay from start to finish and made a return trip to the Class B state final.

Barbera started playing lacrosse in the fourth grade and after being called up for the playoffs her freshman season, helped Yarmouth win a championship as a sophomore.

But she was on the verge of turning her back on the sport.

“I used to hate lacrosse because I was so bad,” Barbera said. “I was going to quit. I couldn’t catch the ball. My JV coach (Angela Nasveschuk) saw something in me and convinced me to stay and I’m so glad I did.”

As a junior, Barbera and her teammates got back to states only to lose to Kennebunk, but the fire was lit and Barbera, who helped protect standout goalie Mary Kate Gunville, was named to the all-star team.

Her senior season was transcendent. Barbera was the tone-setter on a defense which allowed just four goals a game in a 12-0 regular season. Yarmouth then dominated Winslow, St. Dom’s and Oceanside in the  playoffs, as Barbera scored her first career goal in the regional final.

“I was so excited to score that first goal,” Barbera said.

In the state final, again against Kennebunk, the Clippers only surrendered five goals, but Yarmouth only managed four and was upset as the season ended in stunning fashion.

Barbera was able to put the loss behind her, however.

“We had so much fun this season,” Barbera said. “I loved playing defense and making sure Mary Kate didn’t have to work too hard. I’m very competitive. I go 100 percent all the time.” 

Barbera’s motivation came from many sources.

“My family is my support team,” she said. “My grandparents live in Falmouth and came to everything.”

Barbera also belonged to Yarmouth’s Outing Club, was the leader of the school’s Environmental Science group and was the class clerk in student government. She played four years of soccer, Nordic skied for four years and also took part in ultimate frisbee. She’ll play lacrosse and study environmental science at Allegehany College in Pennsylvania next year.

She’ll certainly be remembered as one of the great defensive players in the history of one of the state’s premier girls’ lacrosse programs. Gretchen Barbera, Yarmouth’s Spring Female Athlete of the Year, learned to love lacrosse and the sport loved her back.

Coach Dorothy Holt’s comment: “Gretchen has been an incredible leader and the definition of a team player. Her determination to make plays on defense and her speed made her a joy to coach and to watch. We’re truly going to miss her and we wish her success playing at Allegheny.” 

Previous winners:

2016 Mary Kate Gunville (lacrosse)

2015 Mari Cooper (softball)

2014 Grace O’Donnell (lacrosse)

2013 Grace O’Donnell (lacrosse)

2012 Hannah Potter (tennis)

2011 Danielle Torres (lacrosse)

2010 Danielle Torres (lacrosse)

2009 Haley Knaub (track)

2008 Nicole Grover (lacrosse)

2007 Laurie Baker (lacrosse)

2006 Emily Johnson (lacrosse)

2005 Chrissie Attura (lacrosse)

2004 Louise Taylor (tennis)

2003 Louise Taylor (tennis)

2002 Christine Clancy (tennis)

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

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Gibson Harnett

Gretchen Barbera

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