Yarmouth Clippers Spring Sports Preview

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Senior Abby Hamilton is the defending Class B two-mile champion. She looks to cap her stellar high school career with one final round of greatness this spring for a competitive Yarmouth girls’ outdoor track team.

File photos.

More photos below.

BASEBALL

Coach: Marc Halsted (11th year, 111-68-1 overall record)

2016 record: 11-6-1 (Lost, 2-0, to Greely in Class B South quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Gibson Harnett (Senior), Chris Romano (Senior)

Pivotal games: April 24 YORK, April 28 GREELY, May 3 @ Greely, May 12 @ Freeport, May 19 FALMOUTH, May 23 @ Wells, May 26 @ Cape Elizabeth

Coach’s comment: “Obviously, we’re starting all over graduating over 90 percent of our offense and 116 out of 127 total innings pitched, but this is why we work so hard with our first ream program and during Junior Legion in the summer. In addition, Nick Whittaker has cemented himself as one of the best JV coaches you’ll find in high school baseball. He’s totally revamped our throwing program and our approach to developing our pitchers and I look forward to seeing all his hard work pay off this season with a new group of varsity kids competing for us. We are exceptionally fortunate to have coaches like Nick, Chris Hayward and Eric Higgins and they’ve poured a lot of heart, soul, and effort into our program for three years and our success this year will largely be because of them.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Don’t let Yarmouth’s lack of varsity experience fool you. The Clippers will be just fine as a season of steady growth awaits. One which could culminate in Yarmouth being a team no one wants to face in the playoffs.

This group has two steady veterans and Harnett and Romano will lead the way. Harnett threw 11 innings as a junior and went 1-0 with a 1.91 earned run average. Senior John Thoma and juniors Ethan Belesca, Dom Morrill and Luke Waeldner will also see time on the hill. Junior James Waaler will be the catcher, replacing Jack Snyder. Romano will anchor the infield from his shortstop position. He’ll be a solid offensive force as well. Last spring, Romano hit .324, had an on-base percentage of .509 and had 12 hits and scored 11 runs. When Harnett isn’t pitching, he’ll be in leftfield. Last year, Harnett hit .286, with 18 hits, including three doubles, and 14 runs scored. Thoma, senior Joe Coyne and junior Jackson Caruso will also see time in the field. Harnett will be joined in the outfield by Belesca, Waeldner and at times, Thoma.

While several of Yarmouth’s top rivals have more experience and name players, these Clippers have a tremendous upside. Halsted will have fun bringing this team together and giving it confidence by allowing it the freedom to take chances on the basepaths. Yarmouth has been in the playoffs 11 years running and has the pieces in place to get back to the postseason. If the Clippers get there, they might just steal some headlines.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Amy Ashley (fifth year, 51-23 overall record, one state championship)

2016 record: 14-4 (Lost, 8-1, to Greely in Class B South semifinals)

Top returning players: Andrea St. Pierre (Senior), Sydney St. Pierre (Senior), Sophie McGrath (Junior), Hannah Merrill (Junior), Cate Ralph (Junior), Ceanne Lyon (Sophomore), Cayte Tillotson (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 26 @ Fryeburg, April 28 GREELY, May 3 @ Greely, May 8 GRAY-NG, May 23 @ Wells, May 26 @ Cape Elizabeth

Coach’s comment: “We return six starters, but we graduated some really talented players who were staples of our program. We will look to the St. Pierre sisters to fill their shoes and lead the team. We’ll have a new pitcher on the mound, but we have the utmost confidence in Ceanne, as well as Cate behind the plate. We’re working to fill other positions and get everyone up to speed. Over half of our team are sophomores and freshmen, so we have a lot to teach. I assume we’ll have breakdowns defensively, but we’ll look to limit those as we go. Offensively, we need to continue to gain confidence so we’re strong throughout our lineup. As always, getting into the playoffs is our first goal.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth’s title reign ended last spring with a loss to Greely in the semifinals and the Clippers then had to bid adieu to several key contributors, including pitcher Mari Cooper. This year’s team will be a work in progress, but by the end of the season, don’t be surprised if the Clippers are on the short list of squads capable of winning Class B South.

Lyon will take over on the mound this season. She was an outfielder as a freshman and will now have all eyes on her, but Ashley believes she’s up for the challenge. Freshman Tasha Powers will also see some time on the hill. Ralph has experience behind the plate and will help Lyon and Powers settle in. The offense figures to be paced by Ralph (who hit .345 and drove in 17 runs in 2016), Andrea St. Pierre (who plays shortstop) and Sydney St. Pierre (second base). McGrath (centerfield) Merrill (third base) and Tillotson (catcher/first base) also have experience. Along with Powers, newcomers to watch include sophomores Gabby Colby-George (first base/designated player), Lydia Guay (outfield) and Marie LeBlanc (outfield) and freshman Adriana Whitlock (outfield). The talent is evident, but it’s raw and there will be some growing pains.

Yarmouth will have its hands full early against a tough schedule, but the Clippers will gain valuable experience in the process. Ashley, last year’s league Coach of the Year, has shown she has no peer in getting teams to develop over the course of a season, especially when they’re unheralded. That bodes well for this group, which will be a nightmare matchup late in the season and in the playoffs. Its future is even brighter.

BOYS’ LACROSSE

Coach: David Pearl (sixth year, 54-25 overall record)

2016 record: 11-5 (Lost 13-9, to Falmouth in Class B state final)

Top returning players: Max Barton (Senior), Bill Jacobs (Senior), Remi LeBlanc (Senior), Patrick Mallett (Senior), Silas Chappell (Junior), Cooper May (Junior), Henry Venden (Junior), Liam Harke (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 27 KENNEBUNK, April 29 @ Brunswick, May 3 @ Falmouth, May 10 CAPE ELIZABETH, May 13 SCARBOROUGH, May 30 FALMOUTH, June 1 @ Cape Elizabeth

Coach’s comment: “We look good. We’re really young this year. Only four seniors, but we’ll be competitive. My freshman and sophomore group is lax-first for the first time in a long time. That bodes well for the future. Ricky (Tillotson) leaves a big hole at faceoffs. We’re athletic and the kids are hungry. I really love coaching them. I feel really good about this year. We face a very challenging schedule, but you have to play the best to be the best.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth got to the state final for the fourth straight year last spring, but for the fourth straight season, the Clippers fell just short. This season, Yarmouth again is favored to get back to the big stage, but it won’t come easily. There are some holes to fill and while many strong athletes are on the roster, they’ll need some time to hit their stride.

The Clippers lost All-American Matt Beatty and league all-stars Walter Conrad, Ricky Tillotson (the faceoff standout) and Jack Venden, among many others to graduation. This season, sophomore Benjamin Pearl will take faceoffs. The midfield features experience in Chappell, LeBlanc and May. On attack, Jacobs, a four-year starter and second-team league all-star last year, and Henry Venden will look to tickle the twine. On defense, Mallett, another reigning all-star, and Barton return in front of Harke, who survived trial by fire in goal as a freshman. Freshman Spencer King will also see time as a goalie. Yarmouth will be very strong up and down the field.

While most of the attention in Class B will be focused on defending champion Falmouth and perennial powerhouse Cape Elizabeth and while those two teams are beating each other up, Yarmouth will be coming of age and gaining confidence. The Clippers will learn some lessons from many strong teams they’ll face in the regular season. By the time the playoffs arrive, Yarmouth will be the favorite in Class B North. This team ultimately wants to get the better of the Capers or Yachtsmen in the state game. If the Clippers peak at the right time, that’s a possibility.

GIRLS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Dorothy Holt (13th year, 134-44 overall record, five state championships)

2016 record: 12-4 (Lost, 9-7, to Kennebunk in Class B state final)

Top returning players: Ella Antolini (Senior), Gretchen Barbera (Senior), Mary Kate Gunville (Senior), Cory Langenbach (Senior), Eliza Lunt (Senior), Katie Waeldner (Senior), Molly Wilson (Senior), Hannah Corey (Junior), Callie Decker (Junior), Greta Elder (Junior), Meredith Lane (Junior), Eva Then (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 26 CAPE ELIZABETH, April 28 WAYNFLETE, May 13 SCARBOROUGH, May 23 GREELY, May 25 @ Kennebunk, June 1 @ Falmouth

Coach’s comment: “We have a good core of veterans and a lot of youngsters who are stepping into big roles this year. The seniors are very supportive. We’ll take baby steps, but hopefully we’ll peak at the right time. We want to be consistent. We still have a lot to prove.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth has been the model of consistency throughout Holt’s triumphant time as coach and even though the Clippers’ two-year title reign came to an end, despite a valiant effort in last year’s loss to Kennebunk, they’re ready to get back to the state game for the fifth year in a row and return to the pinnacle.

Most teams struggle finding a quality goalie for one year, but Yarmouth has been fortunate enough to have a standout now entering her fourth season between the pipes. Gunville, the Clippers’ Spring Female Athlete of the Year last season, has come up big in big games too many times to count and she’ll be a steady leader in her final campaign. Defensively, Barbera returns after being named a first-team league all-star last year. She’s joined by Corey, Decker and freshman Caroline Grant to make up a formidable unit. In the midfield, Lane and Then will take draws and Langenbach and Lunt, second-team all-stars in 2016, will do what they do, namely excel all over the field. Freshman Ehryn Groothoff is new to the team and will also see key minutes. On attack, look for Antolini, Elder, Waeldner and Wilson to do their share of tickling the twine. Once again, Yarmouth has the talent in place to do great things. The Clippers opened with a decisive 16-1 home win over Fryeburg Academy Thursday. Then scored five times and Lane, Lunt and Waeldner had two goals apiece.

Navigating a daunting schedule will be the first challenge. After returning from a vacation week trip to Florida, the Clippers will be tested in the majority of their contests, but they have the talent to match up with any foe. Yarmouth has dominated its region for several years and is again the favorite. The Clippers don’t measure success by regional titles, however. They want to win another state championship. Don’t be surprised if come June 17, Yarmouth isn’t doing that very thing. Again.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: John Rogers (second year)

2016 results:

(Boys) Tie-9th @ Class B state meet

(Girls) 4th @ Class B state meet

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Tucker Whitney (Senior), John Decker (Junior), Tahj Garvey (Junior), Luke Groothoff (Junior), Luke Laverdiere (Junior), Noah Eckersley-Ray (Sophomore)

(Girls) Abby Hamilton (Senior), Anneka Murrin (Junior), Paige Reinfelder (Sophomore), Sophie Walsh (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “The boys will be extremely deep in the middle distance and throws. We’ll be very athletic and we’ll have depth in the throws, sprints and hurdles. If healthy, we will be in the mix.
“The girls lack depth, but we’ll be strong in the distance with Abby and Anneka being two of the state’s top runners. We don’t have a lot of depth, but we’ll make noise in most events. We’ll be in the mix for a top five finish in Class B.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth has the pieces in place to be very good on the track this spring.

The boys return a pair of state champions, who project to dominate again. Laverdiere won the 800 and the mile a year ago and will look to repeat. Garvey won the 400 last spring and hopes to double up this time around by winning the 200 as well. Groothoff also scored last year at states, placing third in the 800. He looks to be right on Laverdiere’s heels. Decker is another distance threat. Whitney could score in the high jump, long jump and triple jump. Eckersley-Ray is an emerging thrower who will also sprint. Senior Will Saint-Amour is coming off a strong indoor season and will be a force in the middle distance. Senior Theo Bolmer is another thrower of note. Freshman Chris Koskinen is a vaulter and sprinter to watch. Other newcomers include juniors Owen Cumming (throws) and Jack True (throws, jumps, hurdles), sophomores Wyatt Bates (jumps), Ben Cox-Faxon (middle distance), Eric LaBrie (sprints, jumps, hurdles), Lazare Merchi-Rossini (distance) and Harry Steinharter (throws and sprints) and freshmen John D’Appolonia (sprints and jumps) and Odeh Rizkalleh (distance). The Clippers have the depth and talent to not only be strong in the very deep Western Maine Conference, but they could make a run at a top five state meet finish for the second time in three seasons.

On the girls’ side, there’s plenty of excitement as well. Top returners include Hamilton (last year’s outdoor two-mile champion, who also came in first in cross country and in the two-mile indoors) and Murrin (the reigning champion in the mile). Murrin was second in the 800 last season and looks to win that event this year as well. Reinfelder could score in the sprints and pole vault. Walsh will compete in the hurdles and sprints. Adding depth are seniors Isabelle Christie (sprints) and Johanna Hattan (throws), sophomore Caitlen Hewitt (throws) and new junior Sara D’Appolonia, the soccer standout, who will sprint and hurdle. A third straight top four state meet finish is a probability for this talented group. Don’t be surprised if they move up from last year.

BOYS’ TENNIS

Coach: Mark Marstaller (19th year, one state championship)

2016 record: 5-8 (Lost, 5-0, to Cape Elizabeth in Class B South quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Max Allen (Senior), Matt Clinton (Senior), Andrei Lougovtsov (Senior), Ravi Patel (Senior)

Coach’s comment: “This is the most athletic team I’ve fielded in my 19 years of coaching. We’ll have a solid core of doubles players and expect to win the two doubles points against most teams. The question is how my singles players will fare. I expect seven or eight regular season victories, then we should have a good run in the playoffs.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth has reason for optimism this spring, even though it plays in the same league as three elite powerhouses, Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth and Waynflete.

The Clippers will be without last year’s top singles player, league all-star Sammy Potter, who is spending the year as a page in the United States Senate in Washington, D.C. Sophomore Shepard Shutkin will fill his shoes. Clinton will be the second singles spot and senior Igor Nikolic will be at third singles. The veteran core of Allen, Lougovtsov (a doubles all-star in 2016) and Patel, along with senior Henry Coolidge and freshman William Nicolas, make up the doubles teams. This is a solid group that will be able to hold its own against everyone on the schedule.

While Yarmouth might not be at the level of the three previously listed powers, its schedule suggests it will win more matches than it loses and the Clippers should be in position to make a run in the playoffs. A run to the regional final isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

GIRLS’ TENNIS

Coach: Ann Harradon (21st year, four state championships)

2016 record: 9-5 (Lost, 5-0, to eventual champion Cape Elizabeth in Class B South semifinals)

Top returning players: Clementine Blaschke (Sophomore), Lana Mavor (Sophomore), Marien O’Neill (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “My team this year is very young. As always, our goal is to make the playoffs. Hopefully as the team matures, we will be able to make a deep run this year.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth is a team in transition as the season begins. The high school’s tennis courts are under construction and the Clippers will have to practice at Rowe Elementary School and play away matches until the weather is warm enough for new lines to be painted. That might not happen until late in the regular season. Yarmouth also has some spots to fill with untested players, but while there will be some growing pains, by the end of the year, the Clippers could be a daunting foe.

Mavor was a first-team league all-star as a freshman and she’ll be in the top singles spot this spring. She’ll likely advance deep in the state singles tournament too. Blaschke, coming off a strong basketball campaign, and O’Neill also have experience. After that, there are a lot of unknowns, as seniors Celia Clarke and Daly McGrath and freshmen Lexi Caterine and Lisa Tchitchkan are vying for spots.

Yarmouth will be tested by a difficult schedule, which includes defending champions Falmouth and Cape Elizabeth, among other top teams. The Clippers will be able to contend, however. If this squad comes together as hoped, it will be in position to advance deep into the postseason once again.

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

Senior Chris Romano is a rare returning veteran for Yarmouth’s baseball team, which hopes to contend in Class B South this year.

Senior Andrea St. Pierre will pace the Yarmouth softball team with her bat and her play at shortstop.

Senior Sydney St. Pierre returns for another season at second base.

Junior Cate Ralph returns behind the plate and will also feature a potent bat.

Sophomore Ceanne Lyon will step into the lead pitcher’s role this spring.

Senior Bill Jacobs was a league all-star last season. He’ll score his share of goals this spring.

Junior Cooper May will help pace Yarmouth’s attack.

Junior Henry Venden is another returning scoring threat.

Sophomore Liam Harke returns in goal for the Clippers.

Senior Mary Kate Gunville has been an anchor in goal since her freshman season. She hopes to backstop Yarmouth’s girls’ lacrosse team to another state title before graduating.

Junior Hannah Corey will be a key defender for the Clippers.

Senior Cory Langenbach can do it all for the Clippers.

Senior Ella Antolini is another key veteran returner.

Junior Eva Then scored five times in Yarmouth’s season-opening win over Fryeburg Academy.

Junior Katie Waeldner demonstrated a deft scoring touch in the opener.

Junior Meredith Lane will be a force in the draw circle and on offense.

Senior Eliza Lunt is an unstoppable force when she has a head of steam and the ball on her stick.

Junior Luke Laverdiere is the reigning Class B boys’ outdoor track champion in the 800 and the mile. He has a great chance to repeat this season.

Junior Tahj Garvey hopes to repeat in the 400 and win the 200 this season.

Junior Luke Groothoff will be a top middle distance runner for the Clippers.

Junior Anneka Murrin looks to repeat in the Class B girls’ mile this season.

Lana Mavor had a terrific freshman year for Yarmouth’s girls’ tennis team and will make a run at the individual singles crown this spring.

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