Yarmouth Clippers Spring Sports Preview

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Yarmouth’s baseball team stole headlines a year ago, winning an improbable Class B state championship. The Clippers are back for more this spring.

File photos.

More photos below.

BASEBALL

Coach: Marc Halsted (12th year, 127-73-1 overall record, one state championship)

2017 record: 16-5 (Beat Old Town, 3-0, to win Class B state title)

Top returning players: Jackson Caruso (Senior), Dom Morrill (Senior), James Waaler (Senior), Luke Waeldner (Senior), Jack Romano (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 12 YORK, April 25 @ Greely, May 4 @ Wells, May 9 CAPE ELIZABETH, May 14 GREELY, May 18 GRAY-NG, May 21 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 23 WELLS

Coach’s comment: “It should be another fun and highly competitive year in Class B baseball. We can’t replace the competitive fire of a Gibson Harnett or Chris Romano, or the leadership of a John Thoma, but we really like the overall athleticism of our current group and certainly hope that our core group of nine seniors take the lessons of last spring and apply them to their leadership effort this season. The 14 returning players who were in uniform for last year’s playoff run saw what commitment, grit, passion and respect for teammates can do and we’ll continue to preach that gospel. We’ve got two- and three-sport varsity starters vying for playing time and that’s a great thing. Bottom line, we’re fired up to get back out there and compete.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Last spring’s improbable ride to glory is still vivid. Yarmouth rose from the number nine seed to champion in dizzying a two-week span which saw games won in dramatic fashion thanks to no shortage of key plays from stars, as well as role players. It was a triumph not only for Yarmouth, but for Coach Halsted’s philosophy and for hard workers everywhere. Now, it’s time for the Clippers to do it again and while graduation has taken its toll, don’t ever write this program off.

Waeldner has seen his share of big moments on the mound. He went 6-2 with a 2.08 earned run average in 40 innings a year ago and was solid during the postseason. Waeldner was a second-team all-star in 2017 who boasts a potent bat as well (.455 average, 30 hits and 17 runs scored last season). Morrill (2-1, 1.57 ERA, four holds, three saves and 24 strikeouts in 22.1 innings last spring) will be another stalwart on the hill. Senior Ethan Belesca, junior Toby Burgmaier and sophomores Aidan Hickey and Jason Lainey will also help eat up innings. As always, Yarmouth’s pitchers will give the opposition fits. In addition to Waeldner, top returning hitters include Romano (a reigning first-team all-star who hit .375 with 24 hits and 16 RBI in 2017), Waaler (.314, 16 hits, 13 RBI) and Caruso (12 hits). Senior Ben Norton is a key newcomer who will play first base. Aaron Belesca and Ben Gleason provide depth and will have opportunities to make plays.

Yarmouth again has the pieces in place to do special things. Look for this squad to take some time to get up to speed, as Halsted figures out who best goes where. Class B South boasts no shortage of good teams, so there won’t be many easy games. Regardless of their record at the end of the regular season, the Clippers know full well they won’t be able to sneak up on anyone this time around. Can lightning strike twice? It will be fun finding out.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Sandra Sanford (first year)

2017 record: 13-5 (Lost, 2-1, to Wells in Class B South semifinal)

Top returning players: Sophie McGrath (Senior), Hannah Merrill (Senior), Cate Ralph (Senior), Ceanne Lyon (Junior), Tasha Powers (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 25 @ Greely, May 4 @ Wells, May 9 CAPE ELIZABETH, May 14 GREELY, May 21 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 23 WELLS, May 24 @ Fryeburg

Coach’s comment: “I inherited a great group of girls with a solid base and lots of enthusiasm for the game. We picked up some speed from some newcomers which will be fun as we work to be aggressive on the bases. I think our offense will be fun to watch as we hit our stride this season. Our seniors have done a great job helping the team embrace a new coaching staff and adjust to the changes.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth is coming off another solid campaign, as it made it to the semifinals for the fourth year in a row. The Clippers have a new coach this spring, as Sanford replaces Amy Ashley, who left to become Cheverus’ athletic director earlier this school year. Sanford played at the University of Connecticut and previously coached at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania. She was a volunteer coach with Yarmouth last spring and takes over a program primed to make a deep playoff run.

While the departure of all-stars Andrea St. Pierre and Sydney St. Pierre creates a void in the middle infield, the Clippers have plenty of talent in reserve. Ralph, a first-team all-star a year ago, is back at catcher. She’ll see plenty of heat from Lyon, a second-team all-star in 2017, and Powers. Powers also plays first base. Freshman Margaret McNeil will play a big role on the infield as well. McGrath, a second-team all-star last season, anchors the outfield. Merrill has experience as well.

Yarmouth has plenty of challengers in a deep Class B South, but could be the last team standing if it gets consistency from its returning players and is at its best in June. Don’t be the least bit surprised if that’s how it plays out.

BOYS’ LACROSSE

Coach: David Pearl (seventh year, 63-32 overall record)

2017 record: 9-7 (Lost 16-7, to Cape Elizabeth in Class B state final)

Top returning players: Silas Chappell (Senior), Cooper May (Senior), Sean Moore (Senior), Joe Truesdale (Senior), Justin Winkel (Senior), Michael Guertler (Junior), Griffin Primeau (Junior), Jake Rogers (Junior), Spencer King (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 24 @ Cape Elizabeth, April 27 @ Kennebunk, May 1 NYA, May 4 SOUTH PORTLAND, May 11 FALMOUTH, May 18 @ Scarborough, May 23 CAPE ELIZABETH

Coach’s comment: “The Class B landscape is very different this year and we’re excited about the change. With our schedule, we’re still fighting above our weight class. We want to beat the best to be the best. We have a family atmosphere and we’re working well together. The young players who have played a lot are coming into their own. We have a great opportunity this year if we make the playoffs, but we’re not worrying about the postseason. We’re just worried about our schedule.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth won its fifth straight regional title a year ago and gave Cape Elizabeth fits for three quarters in the state game before the Capers pulled away. This year, with Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth moving up to Class A, the Clippers have a good chance to end a nine-year championship drought.

Primeau will be the faceoff guy this spring who looks to spark the offense. He’s joined in the midfield by Chappell, Guertler, May (a first-team all-star last season) and Winkel. Truesdale is a scoring threat up top. Defensively, Yarmouth returns first-team all-star Rogers and the veteran Moore. King has the cage to himself this season and could be one of the state’s top goalies.

The Clippers should have some nice balance on offense, will be tough defensively and have a goalie who has played in big spots. A daunting schedule means Yarmouth will have its share of stumbles during the regular season, but it will also make this squad battle tested, ready to make another deep playoff run. With Cape Elizabeth and Falmouth out of the picture, the Clippers feel they can take that final step this time around. This could be their year.

GIRLS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Dorothy Holt (14th year, 149-45 overall record, five state championships)

2017 record: 15-1 (Lost, 5-4, to Kennebunk in Class B state final)

Top returning players: Hannah Corey (Senior), Callie Decker (Senior), Greta Elder (Senior), Meredith Lane (Senior), Emma Marston (Senior), Olivia Robichaud (Senior), Eva Then (Senior), Kirsten Thomas (Senior), Ehryn Groothoff (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 27 @ Massabesic, May 3 KENNEBUNK, May 9 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 19 MARSHWOOD, May 25 @ Messalonskee, May 30 GREELY, May 31 @ Waynflete

Coach’s comment: “It’s going to be an interesting season. It’ll be a learning experience for everybody. We lost eight, but we have eight seniors this year. We have a lot of people changing positions to fill holes. Replacing MaryKate (Gunville) is huge. We’ll focus more on defense this year. We’ll make adjustments and grow through the season. We’ll push ourselves to be the best we can be.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth was on the brink of arguably its finest season to date a year ago, as it was utterly unbeatable for 15 games, but unfortunately for the Clippers, they proved mortal in the 16th, a gutwrenching, 5-4 state final loss to Kennebunk. Yarmouth will look to return to the pinnacle this season in a new-look Class B, where, if the Clippers steadily improve, they’ll likely be the team to beat.

Yarmouth had the luxury of fielding an elite goalie, Gunville, for four years. She’s graduated and that’s the team’s most glaring hole to fill this spring. Senior Sophie Harpool and junior Isabel Serrano, who was Gunville’s backup last season, look to step up. Defensively, the Clippers boast Corey (a second-team all-star in 2017), Decker and Robichaud. Lane (honorable mention last year) and Then (second-team all-star last spring) could see time on that end of the field as well, but they’ll be most effective in transition and scoring goals. Elder, Groothoff, Marston and Thomas will contribute on offense as well and as always, Yarmouth figures to be very difficult to stop.

The Clippers will play top teams from all three classes and in the newfangled Class B, they’ll have to hold off the likes of Cape Elizabeth, Greely, Messalonskee and Waynflete to get where they want to be. After coming oh-so-close a year ago, the returning players are hungry to finish the job. It wouldn’t be wise to bet against Yarmouth falling short this time around.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: John Rogers (third year)

2017 results:

(Boys) 4th @ Class B state meet

(Girls) 18th @ Class B state meet

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Tahj Garvey (Senior), Luke Laverdiere (Senior), Wyatt Bates (Junior), Ben Cox-Faxon (Junior), Noah Eckersley-Ray (Junior), Eric LaBrie (Junior), Odeh Rizkalleh (Junior), Chris Koskinen (Sophomore), Michael McNeil (Sophomore)

(Girls) Anneka Murrin (Senior), Caitlen Hewitt (Junior), Kelcie McGonagle (Junior), Paige Reinfelder (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “The boys have the capability to improve on their fourth-place state meet finish with Laverdiere, Garvey and LaBrie capable of scoring a lot of points. We will also be capable of scoring in the throws, jumps and pole vault, so it will depend on how the young kids develop and where they end up helping us. The girls don’t have the depth, but we have some quality athletes who will score, particularly in the middle distance and pole vault.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth’s outdoor track program again boasts some top-notch talent.

The boys are coming off their best-ever state meet finish and will build on that momentum. Laverdiere is entering his final high school season before running at Harvard next year. He hopes to duplicate what he accomplished a year ago, when he took the Class B 800, mile and two-mile. Don’t be surprised if Laverdiere bows out with a flourish. Cox-Faxon and Rizkalleh are other returning distance runners of note. Garvey won the 400 a year ago and will be a top sprinter again. Keep an eye also on Koskinen and LaBrie (fifth in the 200 a year ago) in the short races. Bates will compete in the hurdles. On the field side, Eckersley-Ray and McNeil will compete in the throws. Bates, Koskinen and LaBrie hope to score in the jumps. Koskinen will also take part in the pole vault. This team will ride the dominance of Garvey and Laverdiere and should be in line for another strong finish at the championship meets.

On the girls’ side, Reinfelder (fourth in the pole vault) is the lone returning scorer. She’ll also compete in the jumps. McGonagle also pole vaults, while Hewitt is a top thrower. Reinfelder will sprint and in the distance events, look out for Murrin, who could be one of the best in the conference. The Clippers should be competitive in the regular season and have what it takes to move up the standings at states.

BOYS’ TENNIS

Coach: Bill Shardlow (first year)

2017 record: 10-6 (Lost, 5-0, to Camden Hills in Class B state final)

Top returning player: Shepard Shutkin (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “We’ll be very young, with a lot of inexperience. Our challenge will be to determine our lineup, then move forward to be more competitive as the season progresses.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: A year after making a surprise run to the Class B state match, Yarmouth has a very different look this spring. For starters, after a long stint as coach, Mark Marstaller has been replaced by Shardlow, who has over four decades of coaching experience. He inherits nearly a brand new team, as six of seven of last year’s players have graduated. While a rebuild is in order, it likely won’t be long until the Clippers are right back in the hunt.

Shutkin will play singles. Sophomore Will Nichols will likely be in a singles spot as well. After that, several players are vying for the No. 3 singles spot and the doubles teams.

Yarmouth will take some time to hit its stride as Shardlow figures out who to play where, but the Clippers should be competitive in the league. Look for this squad to show steady improvement and like last year, be dangerous when the stakes are highest.

GIRLS’ TENNIS

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

2017 record: 9-6 (Lost, 4-1, to eventual champion Greely in Class B South Final)

Top returning players: Clementine Blaschke (Junior), Mairen O’Neill (Junior), Lexie Caterine (Sophomore), Sadie Cowles (Sophomore), Lisa Tchitchkan (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “I have a huge team this year and most of the girls are inexperienced. We’re a young team with only seven seniors, some who just joined the team this year. It will be a building year for us. The returning players will gain experience and hopefully be back next year. Our goal as always is to make playoffs and see where it takes us.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth got to its first regional final in five years last spring and this season, the Clippers have a lot of holes to fill, but they’ll be in the Class B South mix again.

At press time, it didn’t appear that reigning state singles champion Lana Mavor was playing high school tennis this season, so Yarmouth will turn to Blaschke and Caterine to lead the singles brigade. O’Neill and Tchitchkan were vying for the third singles spot at press time. Cowles will be in a doubles position. Several other players will have an opportunity to step into the rotation.

The Clippers have questions to answer, but Harradon has done a great job over the years of getting the most out of her roster and getting her team to steadily improve from April to June. Yarmouth will once again be in the playoff mix and will be a team that no one will want to face with their season on the line.

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

Senior Luke Waeldner has pitched some big innings for the Clippers and will be an ace again this season.

Junior Jack Romano was a league all-star a year ago. He’ll be a top hitter and fielder for the Clippers.

Senior James Waaler looks to cross home plate many times in the weeks to come.

Junior Ceanne Lyon returns to lead Yarmouth’s softball team to victory.

Senior catcher Cate Ralph is a stalwart behind the plate and boasts a potent bat as well.

Tasha Powers had a strong freshman season and will play first base and see some time on the mound this spring.

Senior Silas Chappell is a top returner for a Yarmouth boys’ lacrosse squad that will once again be in the hunt for a Class B state title.

Senior Cooper May is another top returning scoring threat.

Sophomore Spencer King will be the Clippers’ primary goalie this season.

Senior Meredith Lane will play a big part in the success of Yarmouth’s perennially strong girls’ lacrosse team this spring.

Senior Greta Elder has speed and the ability to score.

Sophomore Ehryn Groothoff had a strong freshman season and will be play an even bigger role this spring.

Senior Hannah Corey will do a little of everything to help the Clippers’ cause.

Senior Eva Then is another top scoring threat for the Clippers.

Senior Luke Laverdiere was the premier distance runner in Class B a year ago. He’ll look to win a few more titles for Yarmouth’s boys’ outdoor track team this spring.

Senior Tahj Garvey looks to repeat as the champion of the Class B 400.

Senior Anneka Murrin is a top distance runner for the Yarmouth girls’ track team.

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