Yarmouth Clippers Spring Sports Previews

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At least three Yarmouth spring teams are serious state championship contenders, while several others will be fun to watch. Baseball is coming off its best Class B season to date and could be the best squad around from top to bottom. Softball hopes to make a run back to the playoffs. Boys’ lacrosse welcomes a new coach and in the minds of many is rebuilding, but if the Clippers jell as hoped, they could very well go all the way to the final Saturday of the season again. The girls’ team is primed for glory as a special core of seniors looks to finally take that last, huge step to the mountaintop. Both track teams are small, but have their share of solid athletes. Boys’ tennis looks to get back to its 2009 championship form, while the girls hope to be Falmouth’s top threat yet again.

BASEBALL

Coach: Marc Halsted (fifth year)

2010 Record: 17-2 (Lost 5-1 to Cape Elizabeth in Western Class B Final)

Top returning players: Campbell Belisle-Haley (Senior), Dustin McCrossin (Senior), Luke Pierce (Senior), Nick Proscia (Senior), Aidan Sullivan (Senior)

Pivotal games: May 4 (H) GRAY-NG, May 11 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 13 @ Falmouth, May 16 (H) GREELY, May 18 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 25 (H) FALMOUTH, May 27 @ Greely, June 1 (H) NYA

Coach’s comment: “The most important thing for us is the senior leadership we have. They’ve been successful in football, soccer and basketball and know how to compete in big games. Offensively, we averaged over seven runs a game last year and I’m anxious to see some new bats in our order. If the new guys can complement our middle-of-the-lineup guys, we’ll have another highly competitive offensive team.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: This is a Golden Era for Yarmouth boys’ sports. Not only are the Clippers coming off their best Class B baseball season ever (and their best at any level since winning Class C in 1995), both boys’ soccer and football won championships in the fall and boys’ basketball made its first regional final appearance since 1974 back in February. That bodes well for what could be a memorable season on the diamond. Yarmouth is considered in many quarters the Western B favorite and for good reason. While the pitching staff lost last year’s ace and Spring Male Athlete of the Year, Nick Whittaker, to graduation, it retains some dazzling arms in Belisle-Haley (6-1 a year ago with 52 strikeouts and a 3.29 earned runs average) and Sullivan (4-0, 23 Ks, 1.85 ERA in 2010). Both were named to the Western Maine Conference all-star second team a year ago. Add to those proven stars, junior Bryce Snyder and senior Chris Lawlor (and possibly Pierce, the most dynamic athlete to be found and the school’s Fall and Winter Male Athlete of the Year, as the closer) and you can see why it will be very tough for opponents to cross home plate this season. The Clippers scored nearly eight runs a game a year ago. There’s reason to believe this always aggressive squad will score a prolific amount again in 2011. Pierce (who’s moving to centerfield this year, in preparation for playing at Williams College) hit a robust .537 last spring during a first-team all-star campaign. Of his 29 hits, five were triples, three were doubles and two were home runs. He drove in 21 runs and scored 23 times. First baseman Sullivan (.446, 18 RBI), Leftfielder Belisle-Haley (.429), catcher Proscia (..308) and infielder McCrossin will also be formidable in the batter’s box. Snyder and junior infielder Ryan Cody (who hit .555 in Junior Legion ball last summer) add depth. There are a lot of good teams in Western Class B, but Yarmouth has the potential to stand alone. The Clippers will get solid pitching, should be able to score plenty of runs and under the leadership of Halsted (our Coach of the Year in 2010) will do the little things that allow a team to win. Yarmouth fell just short of the state final a year ago. This year, everything about this group suggests it’s capable of finishing the job.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Jim Senecal (seventh year)

2010 Record: 8-8 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Julie Dursema (Senior), Abbie Hutchinson (Senior), McKenzie Gray (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 27 (H) WELLS, May 11 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 13 @ Falmouth, May 16 (H) GREELY, May 18 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 25 (H) FALMOUTH, May 26 @ Greely

Coach’s comment: “We’ve been the first team out of the playoffs the past few years and we believe we can get back to playoff contention in 2011. I think over the past few seasons, myself, our coaching staff and players have all become a little too comfortable with being an average team and performing at an average level. I believe that’s all starting to change. There’s a much different feeling this year at our practices. The girls are all approaching their drills with more drive and enthusiasm. We have a very interesting combination of great senior leadership and young aggressive players who really love the game and want to play at a high level. I’m excited about our prospects for the season. We can’t wait to get started.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth is seeking its first playoff berth since 2008 and its first winning record since going 16-2 in 2006. The Clippers expect to accomplish those goals this season and have reason for optimism. Yarmouth has ample depth on the mound. Gray (a second-team WMC all-star a year ago) will be in the No. 1 role. She has improved velocity, good command of the strike zone and an ability to change speeds. Hutchinson (a first-teamer in 2010) will be the closer. She’s the team’s hardest thrower. Senior Laura Klepinger and freshman Alexa Sullivan will also see some time in the circle. Gray is also one of the Clippers’ best hitters, batting .283 a year ago with just three strikeouts. Shortstop Hutchinson led Yarmouth in hits and runs scored last spring, while batting .358. Catcher Dursema (another reigning first-team all-star) led Yarmouth in batting (.411), extra base hits and RBI. She’s due to have a stellar senior season. Freshman Monica Austin and Melissa Levinson also look to make a mark. The pieces are in place for the Clippers to not only compete with everyone in a balanced region, but win a lot of games. At this point, Yarmouth just needs to gain confidence and the victories will come. This squad has all the earmarks of a playoff participant.

BOYS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Stephen Moore (first year)

2010 Record: 13-2 (Lost 7-6 to Cape Elizabeth in Class B state final)

Top returning players: Connor Ertz (Senior), Kyle Groves (Senior), Matt Murphy (Senior), Josh Britten (Junior), Bart Gallagher (Junior), Alex Kurtz (Junior), Anders Overhaug (Junior), Sam Torres (Junior), Nick Ronan (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 30 @ Brunswick, May 2 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 7 (H) FALMOUTH, May 18 (H) NYA, May 20 @ Falmouth, May 25 (H) FREEPORT, May 27 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, June 1 @ Greely

Coach’s comment: “Our practices and scrimmages have been encouraging. It’s a very exciting opportunity. We have a very young team. We lost a lot of really core seniors. We have new kids, a new coaching staff. New philosophies with offensive and defensive sets. The goal is to jell. I think the kids will pull it together. We should be a strong team.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: A new era has dawned for the Yarmouth boys’ lacrosse program. After winning 97 games, four state championships and never dropping a home game, Craig Curry stepped down as coach after last year’s state final loss. He’s replaced by Moore, who played at Mass Maritime and Salem State College. Moore has coached for many years, including one season at Thornton Academy and is eager for the opportunity, even though graduation has really hit the program hard in recent seasons. While some expect the Clippers to fall back and even Moore views 2011 as a rebuilding season, Yarmouth will be in the hunt for a title in June. The Clippers got off to a promising start Friday with a 6-2 victory at NYA. While previous editions have featured college-bound prolific scorers (think Rob Highland, Steven Petrovek of recent vintage), this year’s team will have to rely on a balanced attack and that was on display versus the Panthers as five different players scored, with only Ronan tickling the twine on more than one occasion. Other offensive threats include Gallagher, Groves, Murphy, Torres and freshman Max Watson. Senior Billy Clabby will take many of the faceoffs. In the midfield, Overhaug (a football standout), sophomore Ethan Cyr and freshman Brady Neujahr (the football quarterback) will join athletic and aggressive longstick middie Britten (a first-team all-star in 2010) to wreak havoc. Ertz and junior Nick Pelletier are shutdown defenders. The loss of Cam Woodworth in goal will be big, but Kurtz (who played well in the opener) and sophomore Sam Landry hope to fill that spot. The Clippers aren’t the juggernaut they’ve been in past years, but they’ll still win a lot of games. This is still the team to beat in Eastern Class B and if everything comes together, Yarmouth has a great shot to be playing on the final Saturday for the eighth time in nine seasons.

GIRLS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Dorothy Holt (seventh year)

2010 Record: 10-4 (Lost 9-5 to NYA in Eastern Class B Final)

Top returning players: Becca Bell (Senior), Kate Dilworth (Senior), Anne Ryan (Senior), Natalie Salmon (Senior), Devin Simsarian (Senior), Danielle Torres (Senior), Caitlin Crawford (Junior), Claudia Lockwood (Junior), Jeanna Lowery (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 26 @ NYA, April 30 @ Scarborough, May 2 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 5 @ Waynflete, May 7 (H) FALMOUTH, May 19 (H) NYA, May 25 @ Falmouth, May 27 @ Greely, June 1 (H) WAYNFLETE

Coach’s comment: “Our goal is to go into every game and play as best we can. I have depth. We’ll have to work hard. It’s a very veteran team. The girls have experience winning in other sports. We have a lot of talent, but so does everybody else we play. Our schedule is as tough as we’ve ever had. It will depend on how we can jell.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: If ever a team was hungry to win a championship, it’s this senior-laden club. For three years, Yarmouth has won impressively in the regular season, yet in the regional final, fierce rival NYA sent them home. Last year was the most painful of all as the Clippers won both regular season meetings against the Panthers, in relatively decisive fashion, but a trip to the state final wasn’t to be amid a long second half scoring drought and too many shots missed or clanked off posts. While you can’t say it’s a now-or-never scenario with this program (the feeder system’s too good), the Clippers desperately want to be playing on June 18. This is certainly a group that can get it done. Offensively, Brown University-bound Torres leads the way. Yarmouth’s 2010 Spring Female Athlete of the Year, a first-team WMC all-star and the lone returning All-American in the state (she was honored each of the past two years) has a sweet shot and is unselfish in setting up her teammates. Bell and Simsarian are also prolific scorers and reigning all-stars. For starters, good luck stopping those three. If, by chance, you can, you still have to deal with Ryan and Salmon (a second-team all-star last year), senior Mariah Lanfer, juniors Lockwood and Maddie Wood and sophomores Olivia Conrad and Claire King. With Bell, Simsarian and Torres all handling draw controls, the Clippers figure to have no trouble getting possession and working for a good shot. Yarmouth will score plenty of goals in the weeks to come. The Clippers will also be stingy on defense. Dilworth (another reigning second-team all-star) is the top returner. She’s joined by Crawford and Lowery and junior Erica Pierce. Senior Stephanie Moulton is stepping into the goalie spot this year. She saw limited time in 2010. This roster is full of athletes and features great speed and skill. Staying focused won’t be a problem especially with Yarmouth’s first game coming April 26 at NYA. The Clippers are hungry and loaded for bear. For these seniors, it really is now-or-never and it would be a shame for lacrosse fans never to see them on the Fitzpatrick Stadium turf in a state game. There’s a very good chance they’ll finally make an appearance this time around.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: Bob Morse (21st year)

2010 Results:

(Boys) no score @ Class B state meet

(Girls) no score @ Class B state meet

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Asa Arden (Senior), Jon Drouin (Senior), Andrew George (Senior), Ben Nickerson (Senior), Tommy O’Toole (Senior), Ryan Perrier (Senior), Shane Ryan (Senior), Lucas Davis (Junior), Chris Knaub (Junior)

(Girls) Mary Sansone (Senior), Jocelyn Davies (Junior), Emma Pidden (Sophomore)

Top foes: Freeport, NYA, Waynflete

Coach’s comment: “I’m very pleased with the expertise and commitment that my coaches have toward working to improve each and every athlete on the team. Our goal is to work with our athletes and produce as many personal records as possible. The boys’ team’s goal will be to produce competitive relay teams by the Western Maine Conference meet. The girls are a solid group of 12. The team is young. They’re being encouraged to try different events in order to select those they enjoy. It’s a not a team to compete against the power schools, but a team with lots of spirit for individual improvement.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Morse, along with assistants Jeff Averill, Adam Smith and Chuck Thorp, look to make the most of a small group this spring.

The boys have some very good athletes, led by long jumper Arden (who, unfortunately, is currently sidelined by injury). Drouin, George, Nickerson, sophomore Thomas Robichaud and freshman Wesley Crawford are all threats in the distance. Knaub, O’Toole, Perrier and Ryan throw, along with freshman Ben George. Davis is another jumper to watch. Other newcomers and youngsters look to improve and provide depth. Yarmouth will score some points in the regular season and hopes to make a mark in the postseason.

On the girls’ side, Sansone is the lone senior. Pidden looks to qualify for states in the hurdles. Davies is a top sprinter. Sophomores Josselyn Richards-Daniels and Sydney Sperber hope to score in the distance. Sophomore Megan Smith is the program’s first pole vaulter. Expect some individual highlights as the season progresses. A few of these girls will find themselves in a position to make some noise at the conference and state meets.

BOYS’ TENNIS

Coach: Mark Marstaller (13th year)

2010 Results: 6-6 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Dan Connor (Senior), Sam Beaulieu (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: April 29 (H) WAYNFLETE, May 4 @ Greely, May 6 (H) FALMOUTH, May 17 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 23 @ Falmouth

Coach’s comment: “My team will be young. Normally, I can predict the season rather well, but this year is tough to measure. I have graduated five of my top seven two years in a row, so this is a rebuilding year. We’ll have a successful year if we go 8-4 or 7-5 and make it into the tournament. If we can get in, anything can happen..”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth went from the pinnacle of a first-ever Class B state championship in 2009 to missing the postseason altogether a year ago due to the vagaries of the Heal Points system. This spring, the Clippers are hoping to more resemble the 2009 squad. After league all-star Ben Robinson graduated, Yarmouth will have to rely on a group of untested singles players. Connor, who played first doubles in 2010, Beaulieu and freshmen Braden Becker and Alex Coroi are vying for spots. The future is very bright for this program. While the Clippers might not be able to defeat the likes of defending champion Cape Elizabeth and perennial power Falmouth, they should win more matches than they lose and get back to the playoffs where they belong.

GIRLS’ TENNIS

Coach: Ann Harradon (15th year)

2010 Results: 10-4 (Lost 5-0 to eventual state champion Falmouth in Western Class B semifinals)

Top returning players: Smythe Eddy (Senior), Chase McCain (Junior), Hannah Potter (Junior), Lindsey Robinson (Junior)

Pivotal matches: April 25 @ York, April 29 @ Waynflete, May 2 @ NYA, May 6 @ Falmouth, May 17 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 20 (H) YORK

Coach’s comment: “We only lost one from last year. Singles will be our strength. Hopefully, the doubles teams will progress. We want to make the playoffs and not see Falmouth in the first round. My goal is to make tennis fun for these kids.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Yarmouth returns just about all of it’s very good team from last year and should be able to extend its playoff streak to 24 years. Potter, a first-team WMC all-star last spring, returns and will be in the No. 1 singles spot. Also vying for singles positions are Eddy, McCain and Robinson. The Clippers are working on their doubles combinations. While Falmouth remains the league’s heavy favorite, Yarmouth should be able to compete with everyone else and perhaps be the second best team in the region again. The present and future are very bright for this program.

Senior Campbell Belisle-Haley is a pitching ace and strong hitter for a Yarmouth team seeking to build on last year’s success.

Senior Aidan Sullivan is another pitching and hitting standout for the Clippers.

Sophomore McKenzie Gray had a solid debut season a year ago, both on the mound and at the plate. She hopes to lead the Clippers to the playoffs.

Junior Josh Britten brings his athleticism and intensity to the lacrosse field this spring.

Senior Matt Murphy figures to be in the middle of the action all spring.

Junior Sam Torres is an emerging star on the lacrosse field.

Drew Grout will help anchor the Yarmouth defense this season.

Senior Devin Simsarian’s athleticism and tenacity will likely lead to a ton of goals this spring.

Senior Becca Bell is yet another potent Clippers’ weapon.

Senior Natalie Salmon adds depth to the Yarmouth attack.

Junior Claudia Lockwood is one of the rare non-seniors that will be a part of Yarmouth’s attack.

Sidebar Elements


Senior Danielle Torres is the state’s lone returning girls’ All-American. She and her talented teammates hope to go all the way in 2011.

More photos below.

Yarmouth Spring Sports Schedules

(For updated game times, visit http://hs.yarmouth.k12.me.us/Pages/YSD_YHSAthletics/index)

BASEBALL

Mon., April 25 @ Lake Region

Wed., April 27 H WELLS

Fri., April 29 H FREEPORT

Mon., May 2 H POLAND

Wed., May 4 H GRAY-NG

Sat., May 7 @ Fryeburg

Mon., May 9 H YORK

Wed., May 11 @ Cape Elizabeth

Fri., May 13 @ Falmouth

Mon., May 16 H GREELY

Wed., May 18 H CAPE ELIZABETH

Fri., May 20 @ Freeport

Mon., May 23 @ Poland

Wed., May 25 H FALMOUTH

Fri., May 27 @ Greely

Wed., June 1 H NYA

SOFTBALL

Mon., April 25 @ Lake Region

Wed., April 27 H WELLS

Fri., April 29 H FREEPORT

Mon., May 2 H POLAND

Wed., May 4 H GRAY-NG

Thurs., May 5 @ Traip

Mon., May 9 H YORK

Wed., May 11 @ Cape Elizabeth

Fri., May 13 @ Falmouth

Mon., May 16 H GREELY

Wed., May 18 H CAPE ELIZABETH

Fri., May 20 @ Freeport

Mon., May 23 @ Poland

Wed., May 25 H FALMOUTH

Thurs., May 26 @ Greely

BOYS’ LACROSSE

Wed., April 27 H YORK

Sat., April 30 @ Brunswick

Mon., May 2 @ Cape Elizabeth

Sat., May 7 H FALMOUTH

Tues., May 10 @ Waynflete

Sat., May 14 H CHEVERUS

Wed., May 18 H NYA

Fri., May 20 @ Falmouth

Wed., May 25 H FREEPORT

Fri., May 27 H CAPE ELIZABETH

Wed., June 1 @ Greely

GIRLS’ LACROSSE

Tues., April 26 @ NYA

Sat., April 30 @ Scarborough

Mon., May 2 @ Cape Elizabeth

Thurs., May 5 @ Waynflete

Sat., May 7 H FALMOUTH

Wed., May 11 H FREEPORT

Sat., May 14 H MARSHWOOD

Thurs., May 19 H NYA

Wed., May 25 @ Falmouth

Fri., May 27 @ Greely

Wed., June 1 H WAYNFLETE

OUTDOOR TRACK

Fri., April 29 @ York (GNG, Waynflete)

Fri., May 6 H LR, POLAND, WELLS)

Thurs., May 12 @ Sacopee (NYA, OOB)

Fri., May 20 H CAPE, FALM, GREELY

Sat., May 28 @ WMC championships

Sat., June 4 CLASS B STATES

BOYS’ TENNIS

Mon., April 25 H YORK

Wed., April 27 @ NYA

Fri., April 29 H WAYNFLETE

Mon., May 2 H NYA

Wed., May 4 @ Greely

Fri., May 6 H FALMOUTH

Wed., May 11 @ Lake Region

Fri., May 13 H FRYEBURG

Tues., May 17 @ Cape Elizabeth

Wed., May 18 H FREEPORT

Fri., May 20 @ York

Mon., May 23 @ Falmouth

GIRLS’ TENNIS

Mon., April 25 @ York

Fri., April 29 @ Waynflete

Mon., May 2 @ NYA

Wed., May 4 H GREELY

Fri., May 6 @ Falmouth

Mon., May 9 H OOB

Wed., May 11 H LAKE REGION

Fri., May 13 @ Fryeburg

Tues., May 17 H CAPE ELIZABETH

Wed., May 18 @ Freeport

Fri., May 20 H YORK

Mon., May 23 H FRYEBURG

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