CUMBERLAND – When Mike Leeman was a freshman, Greely baseball coach Derek Soule chose him to pitch in one of the season’s biggest games.

Leeman got the ball in a Western Class B semifinal against Cape Elizabeth. Soule had confidence in Leeman and a little history in mind.

Leeman, a junior, is the third generation of his family to play for the Rangers.

“I told him he was meant to pitch in this game,” said Soule, in his 12th season as coach. “Mike just smiled.”

Leeman backed up his coach’s confidence by pitching seven shutout innings. The Rangers won 1-0 in 10 innings and went on to win the state title.

Leeman likely will get the ball today when Greely (16-3) meets Waterville (16-2), the defending Class B champion, in the final at 4 p.m. at St. Joseph’s College in Standish.

While Leeman (7-1) is the logical starter, the Rangers have such a deep staff that Soule has options. But Leeman is the bulldog who has pitched all the tough games.

In a 7-5 win over Yarmouth for the regional title Tuesday, Leeman had a no-hitter through five innings. The Clippers totaled seven hits and five runs in the sixth inning, but Leeman stayed composed and finished.

“All of Mike’s appearances have been against playoff teams,” said Soule. “He hasn’t had an easy game all season.”

That suits Leeman just fine.

“High school sports mean everything to me,” said Leeman.

Fist pumps, raising his arms in victory or a hearty yell looking at a vanquished opponent are not uncommon for Leeman.

He’s quick to add that his actions shouldn’t be perceived as any slight to the other team. It’s just how he reacts to something that means so much, Soule said. Leeman has been working to maintain his composure.

“Mike is a quiet, intense kid,” said Soule. “He’s the type of player that if he’s on your team, you love him.”

Leeman plays left field when he isn’t pitching and bats fifth in the order.

Leeman’s grandfather, Bob Logan, who died last year, led Greely to its first Cumberland County Conference championship in 1949. Leeman’s father, Mark, was one of the Rangers’ top players in the 1980s. He batted .526 in 1985.

“It means a lot to continue my family’s tradition of playing baseball,” said Leeman. “I’m glad I can play for Greely.”

Leeman worked in the offseason and became stronger, with more zip on his fastball.

He had plenty of motivation. A sprained ankle in preseason last year limited him to the final four games.

“I did a lot of throwing indoors, working out with weights and running,” he said.

Soule said Leeman’s fastball touches the low 80s.

“Mike also throws a cut fastball, a curve and a change-up,” said Soule.

The weight training goes hand in hand with Leeman’s fall sport — football. Leeman is the Rangers’ starting quarterback.

“I like both sports but baseball is my favorite. I want to play in college,” he said.

Back in April, the Rangers felt they had the potential for this type of season.

The offense started to click and, combined with defense and strong pitching, put Greely in position to add another state title.

“I feel really good with what our team has accomplished to this point,” said Soule.

“We needed the veterans to produce more and they have. The younger players have really developed.”

The Rangers won state titles in 2007 and 2009.

They’re hoping their odd-year success continues.

“When you get this far, you want nothing less than a victory,” said Soule.

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at:

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Twitter: TomChardPPH