The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram » High School Sports Mon, 29 Aug 2016 04:21:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Boothbay will not play varsity football Mon, 22 Aug 2016 03:54:07 +0000 Boothbay Region High School will not play varsity football season because of a lack of experienced players but will instead field a club team, school officials have announced.

The Seahawks began preseason with 30 players on their roster, but only about a dozen were deemed ready for varsity football, Coach Bryan Dionne told the Boothbay Register.

Boothbay entered into a cooperative agreement with Wiscasset High School in an attempt to draw more players into the program, but no Wiscasset students have joined the team. Dionne also said about nine players from last year’s team elected not to play this year.

“We didn’t realize until the fall practices began how inexperienced our squad was,” Dionne said. “When we handed out equipment was the first time I knew those 7-9 players from last year weren’t going to play and no Wiscasset kids were either.”

Boothbay was coming off a 2-6 season. With just 206 students, the school was the smallest in the state to have varsity football, not counting the Stearns/Schenck cooperative team.

Boothbay’s decision leaves Class D South with just eight teams and creates a scheduling problem, as most of the remaining teams are now scheduled to play only six games. Maine Principals’ Association and school officials hope to come up with a solution in the next few days.

]]> 3 Mon, 22 Aug 2016 08:04:39 +0000
For Maine school officials, artificial turf presents real turmoil Sun, 21 Aug 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Four years.

That’s how long it took Massabesic High in Waterboro to choose the best – and safest – synthetic turf surface to install at the school’s athletic field.

But safety, which once meant reducing knee injuries or concussions, has taken on a different meaning after a troubling 2014 NBC News report about the country’s most common artificial turf surface.

The network’s two-part series suggested the shredded rubber from tires – also called crumb rubber infill – used in most artificial surfaces was a possible cause of cancer in soccer players. While NBC stated that “no research has linked crumb rubber or shredded rubber to cancer” – and no previous or subsequent research has found a link between cancer and crumb rubber – the report sent school officials with artificial surfaces scrambling to allay fears of parents, coaches and players.

“You don’t want to put the kids at harm,” said Gordie Salls, the athletic director at Sanford High, which is putting in a new turf field as part of its $100 million new school construction project.

Officials at Lincoln Academy in Newcastle felt so strongly about their students’ safety that they were willing to spend an additional $100,000 to use Nike Grind infill instead of crumb rubber on their field, which was installed in 2015.

K.J. Anastasio, the school’s athletic director, said the NBC report came out just as they were designing the field. After about six weeks of discussions, which included an anonymous donor paying for the field, school officials decided to “play it safe,” he said.

“For every study that you could find leading you in one direction, there was a different story going the other way. We felt the kids’ safety was the ultimate consideration and we were fortunate we were able to afford it. That’s a huge price.”

Fewer than 10 percent of the 153 high schools that are members of the Maine Principals’ Association have artificial turf fields. Most of those fields are at schools in southern Maine.

“I’d say probably close to 90 percent of them have crumb rubber infill,” said Harland Michaud, president of Saco-based Northeast Turf, which has installed artificial turf fields at colleges and high schools throughout the state.

The lack of a definitive study on crumb rubber has officials at other schools facing similar conversations when considering an artificial surface. But they may have an answer soon. The federal government is conducting a comprehensive study, with findings expected to be released by the end of the year.


Crumb-rubber alternatives, all of which are more expensive, include EPDM (a synthetic rubber that does not use recycled material), organic fill (coconut husks and cork), TPE (thermo plastic elastomer) and Nike Grind (recycled sneaker sole byproducts). All infills are combined with sand to provide a softer surface.

Massabesic went with EPDM. Massabesic’s new GreenFields Evolution XQ 60 turf was installed this summer by Northeast Turf to complete a $3.1 million project that includes a new track, bleachers and lights.

“The project was important to the school and the community,” said Brendan Scully, Massabesic’s athletic director. “We did a healthy amount of research and worked through the details and our needs and the alternatives. I feel we came up with the best product for our facility.”

Massabesic and Sanford are joining a growing list of schools that are looking to extend playing time on their athletic fields for not only all their school teams but also local youth or adult recreation programs. Portland’s two public schools play on turf fields – Portland at Fitzpatrick Stadium, which had its surface replaced in 2015, and Deering at Memorial Stadium, which is scheduled to have its surface replaced in 2017.

Yarmouth, Falmouth, North Yarmouth Academy, Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough, Morse, Lincoln Academy in Newcastle and Thornton Academy in Saco are among high schools that have turf fields.

Turf fields have become a staple in many communities, especially in the Northeast with its harsh winters. Schools were searching for multi-purpose fields that would allow all of their sports teams to play on them without wearing them down and even in inclement weather.

“We had a facility that was grass and was used by only the boys’ lacrosse and football teams. By the end of each season of use by those teams, it was unplayable for any other team to be out there,” Scully said. “We wanted to provide a complex where as many of our teams as possible can play in the stadium and get the same experience – with the fans, the lights, the stadium, the whole nine yards – as the football and boys’ lacrosse.”

Representatives from two synthetic turf companies said it is difficult to determine how much more alternative infills cost, because of many variables: how much infill is used, how large the surface is, the shipping costs to the region where the project is located.

But each alternative infill will increase the cost significantly. For instance, if a pound of crumb rubber cost $1, a pound of recycled EPDM or coated crumb rubber would cost $2, a pound of TPE and organic fill would cost $4 and a pound of virgin EPDM would cost $8, according to estimates provided by GreenFields, a synthetic turf supplier based in Georgia.

Massabesic, according to Michaud, used recycled EPDM, essentially paying twice as much as it would have for crumb rubber.

481939 TurfFieldLayersB0816


The NBC report prompted some communities to think twice and athletic directors to spend copious amounts of time reading up on infill.

Yarmouth had to replace its turf field in 2013. It had crumb rubber infill. And when NBC’s report came out, Susan Robbins said the school put out information on the turf field and why the school chose to infill with crumb rubber again.

“We did a lot of research,” said Robbins, the athletic director at Yarmouth. “The research we came up with showed no link (between crumb rubber and cancer) whatsoever. My kids are on that turf all the time. If I thought we were contributing to anything dangerous to them, we would make a change.”

Emma Dutremble, a senior field hockey player at Thornton Academy, and Sophie Silva, a senior soccer defender at Deering, are both aware of the report but continue to play on artificial turf.

“I have been playing on turf for a long time and plan on continuing,” said Dutremble, who hopes to continue to play in college. “I feel I can’t let (the report) stop me. And I feel it was just the one story. So do I stop because of this one story? Or do I continue doing what I love?”

Silva added: “I’ve been playing soccer for so long and know so many people who have been playing. I feel even though research is still being conducted, if nothing has been found yet, I personally wouldn’t worry. Other people may feel different, but I wouldn’t want to not play on turf because it has been thought to cause cancer.”

According to the Synthetic Turf Council, an organization that oversees the synthetic turf industry, there were almost 11,000 synthetic turf fields in North America at the end of 2014.

Michaud said he relies on the research provided by the Synthetic Turf Council to provide safe materials in all his projects. “We’re not into putting in a product that is not in the best interest of a student-athlete or a child playing on the surface,” he said. “If someone told me there was any truth (in the cancer report), we wouldn’t do it. There have been customers who have asked for an alternate fill.”

The blades on artificial surfaces also come in different types, as each sport seems to prefer a different style. Field hockey, for example, likes a surface that is almost flat, like a carpet. Newer surfaces have fibers that are woven, so they last longer. Older turfs, which had tufted fibers, would lose blades during use.

Maintenance is also important. Turf fields should be brushed regularly to make sure the infill is spread evenly. There are times when, because of use, the infill thins out in certain areas of the field.


NBC’s report focused on Amy Griffin, a soccer coach in Seattle who compiled a list of 38 American soccer players who had been diagnosed with cancer. Thirty-four were goalkeepers. Griffin, an assistant coach at the University of Washington, has continued to track other players. According to an article that appeared in the April 2016 issue of Athletic Business, her list now contains at least 203 athletes with cancer, 159 of them soccer players.

While early studies in crumb rubber showed that the tiny pellets contained traces of toxic elements, none were found to be at levels dangerous to a person’s health.

After the NBC report, several cities, including New York and Los Angeles, placed a moratorium on artificial surfaces. Aaron Watson, the athletic director at Gray-New Gloucester, said the NBC report may have contributed to a failed referendum vote to install an artificial turf at his school. The vote came shortly after the report aired. “It was definitely a topic of conversation in our communities,” he said.

Studies have been done by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and several state agencies that have found no link between cancer and crumb rubber. The Synthetic Turf Council released a report by Dr. Archie Bleyer, who chaired the Children’s Cancer Group for 10 years, that concluded: “We naturally have a need to find something to blame but it’s not the crumb rubber or anything else in synthetic turf that caused the cancers.”

Dr. William Heinz, an orthopedist at Orthopaedic Associates in Portland, is chairman of the National Federation of State High School Associations’ medical advisory board and serves on the Maine Principals’ Association’s sports medicine committee. At the recent NFHS national convention, he cited Bleyer’s report to support turf fields. He believes they are safe and provide children with athletic opportunities to play that grass fields would not be able to provide.

“I told them that there are no peer review studies that link crumb rubber with increased cancer risk in adults or children,” said Heinz. “I suggest they keep using them.”

Even the American Cancer Society can’t settle the issue. Tom Flanagan, a communications official, said in an email that “The American Cancer Society, at present, doesn’t have a definitive stance on the issue as we await further independent research.”

It may be coming by the end of the year when three government agencies – the EPA, CDC and Consumer Product Safety Commission – release their findings of the latest study. The study, titled “Federal Research Action Plan on Recycled Tire Crumb Used on Playing Fields and Playgrounds,” says that while previous studies “have not shown an elevated health risk from playing on fields with tire crumb,” those studies were not comprehensive enough. And while the government realizes that “additional research questions may require evaluation beyond this year, the information will help answer some of the key questions that have been raised.”

Among the tests they are conducting is one to determine the toxicity of different types of tire crumbs and another on how the chemicals found in them can be emitted, whether through contact with skin or sweat, or inhaled.


Salls, the AD at Sanford, is waiting for those results to help determine what infill to use on the school’s new artificial surfaces, which won’t be used until the fall of 2018. He said the school was considering the organic infill but there haven’t been many studies to determine how that product holds up in New England’s environment. Crumb rubber remains an option, for now.

“I’m hoping this study clears it up whether it’s harmful or not,” said Salls, who has been researching artificial fields for the last five or six years since talk of a new field began. “This is a huge project for our communities in this day and economy. You want to make sure you’re doing what’s best for the kids.”

Lincoln Academy’s Anastasio said they tested samples of several infills before deciding on the Nike Grind. He liked the organic infill but wasn’t sure how it would hold up.

“We like it,” he said. “And it’s multi-colored – white, green, like sneaker soles. One of the things we heard is that it might be distracting because it looks like confetti. We haven’t found that at all.”

Those schools that have crumb rubber are confident that they have the right materials as well.

In fact, when Portland had to replace the artificial surface at Fitzpatrick Stadium, the city went once again with crumb rubber. The project finished in the spring of 2015, well after the NBC report aired. Ethan Owens, the athletics facility manager for the city, said the available studies at the time found no cancer link and that they were happy with how the original field held up.

“It’s something we stay up on because these things come up once in a while,” he said of the NBC report. “We get every report, we read everything we can to remain on the cutting edge to make sure we do the right thing.”

The new turf at Fitzpatrick Stadium is a GreenFields turf. It is designed to be extremely durable, which is very important. According to Michaud, Fitzpatrick is one of the most used fields in the nation, in terms of hours of play. Owens said the infill at Fitzpatrick Stadium includes seven pounds of sand and three pounds of crumb rubber per square foot.


Freeport is another school hoping to put in an artificial surface. Three times a referendum bond for an artificial field has failed. Now, a nonprofit organization called the Tri-Town Track & Field Project is hoping to raise $3.2 million to fund the project, which will also include a track. Nike has pledged $1 million to the project, contingent on the organization raising the remaining $2.2 million.

John Paterson, a co-chairman of the organization, said they have raised $1.9 million so far (including the Nike pledge). “Just locally, we’ve raised more than $900,000, which is pretty good,” he said.

Paterson said the group hopes that voters in RSU 5 also agree, in a November referendum, to reallocate $600,000 that has already been approved to improve the current grass fields as part of a larger $14.6 million Freeport High renovation.

He added that the organization has already decided to use Nike Grind as the infill. “We didn’t necessarily agree that crumb rubber is dangerous,” he said. “But we decided to allay any fears that people might have that we’d use Nike Grind.”


]]> 24, 21 Aug 2016 11:43:41 +0000
It’s time to get real when it comes to recruiting Tue, 16 Aug 2016 02:53:59 +0000 CUMBERLAND — Jack Renkens knows that when he talks about the realities of college recruiting, he might bruise the egos of parents and athletes.

“It’s a business,” Renkens said. “I’m one of the few guys telling parents and students what it’s like.”

Renkens, 67, now of Scottsdale, Arizona, is a former men’s basketball coach who for the past 22 years has traveled the country giving prospective college athletes and their parents his take on the hard-edged business of recruiting.

It boils down to three key themes.

The objective is to get education fully funded.

Recruits don’t pick the school, the schools pick the recruits.

And, if a college doesn’t pay, then the athlete won’t play.

It’s a message Renkens says he’s delivered more than 4,000 times, and Monday night it was given to a crowd of about 85 students, parents and high school coaches at Greely Middle School in Cumberland with a blunt approach.

“It was brutally honest,” said Brian Fraser, a parent from Cumberland.

Renkens’ visit was part of a series of talks sponsored by the Western Maine Conference, said Greely Athletic Director David Shapiro. For a total fee of $1,200, Renkens also spoke Sunday to WMC coaches and will be at Poland Regional High School on Tuesday and at Fryeburg Academy on Wednesday. His talks Tuesday and Wednesday are open to the public.

“My message is to be realistic,” Renkens said after Monday’s talk. “This is all about getting your education, going somewhere where you’re going to play and to get it funded. That doesn’t necessarily mean athletic funding.”

Renkens emphasized that parents and athletes have to be willing to look beyond their local area and explore options at smaller, lesser-known schools. He said colleges want to have as many states as possible represented in their student body. For instance, a student from Maine with skills in field hockey and a strong GPA is more attractive to a Division III school in Minnesota or Iowa than they are to a New England college. That D-III school can’t offer an athletic scholarship, but it could offer enough grants and scholarships to cover the total cost of education.

“You have to consider leaving New England to be in a position to negotiate,” Renkens said.

Shapiro said he first heard Renkens speak at last spring’s Maine Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association meeting and felt his message was relevant.

Renkens said he gives about 180 presentations a year.

“It’s possible that for someone, this talk will be a way of saving a quarter of a million dollars, and that’s 45 minutes well spent,” Shapiro said.

Renkens used to be on the other side of the recruiting game as a junior college and NCAA men’s basketball coach, including an 11-year stint as the coach and athletic director at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, from 1985-95. His teams went 131-145 and qualified for the NCAA Division II tournament three times.

When his own daughter was in high school, Renkens began to realize parents needed a guidebook to the recruiting business. He produced a one-page handout for friends. Then it became a small pamphlet. Now, he annually revises his book “Recruiting Realities: It’s a Game; Know the Rules.” He was selling the 2016-17 edition for $20 after the presentation.

“I think he’s right that it is a game,” said Lisa Cooke of Falmouth. “We’ve told our daughter not to set her heart on one college. I think (the presentation) confirmed a lot of what we thought.”

Cooke’s daughter, Adelaide, is entering her senior year at Falmouth High. A three-sport participant, Cooke was the Maine Sunday Telegram’s girls’ track and field Athlete of the Year.

Other points of emphasis included that if a college coach is really interested in a recruit, they will pay for an official visit; that all students and parents should get the free “Guide for the College-Bound Student Athlete” published annually by the NCAA; and the potentially disastrous consequences of social media exposure.

At the end of the presentation, Renkens reverted to a recruiter giving his own sales pitch. He encouraged parents to get “the ball rolling” by signing up for his company’s “Recruiting Realities” program, designed to enhance an athlete’s chance of “securing funding and a roster spot in a college program.”

]]> 2, 15 Aug 2016 23:10:42 +0000
MPA begins talks over high school baseball pitch counts Fri, 12 Aug 2016 00:15:08 +0000 AUGUSTA — The Maine Principals’ Association took the first step toward establishing a pitch count for high school baseball when its sports medicine committee approached the topic Wednesday.

“We feel it’s best to ask the (medical) experts,” said Phil St. Onge, the assistant principal at Nokomis High in Newport who was representing the MPA baseball committee.

Last month the National Federation of State High School Athletics, which sets playing rules nationally, said states must limit pitchers with pitch counts rather than innings beginning next season. The federation left the pitch count number up to each state.

The MPA baseball committee will meet Oct. 18 to come up with a number but first wanted input from the medical professionals on the sports medicine committee.

Dr. William Heinz, an Portland orthopedist, is a liaison to the sports medicine committee, as well as the chair of the National Federation of High School Associations medical board. Heinz said while a pitch count can help limit arm injuries, nothing can prevent them.

“Because of the increase in shoulder and arm injuries, we felt a better way to control this is pitch counts,” Heinz said. “The reality is there’s no magic number (of pitches).”

Heinz suggested a sliding scale for pitch counts, with varsity players allowed to throw more pitches than junior varsity and freshman players. St. Onge said how a pitch count is monitored will be a big topic for the baseball committee.

As a way to monitor pitch count, Heinz offered the example of Vermont, which already uses a pitch count limit.

In Vermont, a varsity pitcher is limited to 120 pitches. The junior varsity limit is 110 and middle school pitchers are held to 85 pitches in a game.

Each team keeps track and exchanges pitch counts each inning. Vermont schools are required to report pitch counts to a central authority after each game, Heinz said.

Currently, Maine high school pitchers are required three days’ rest between games if they pitch more than three innings in a game.

In Wednesday’s meeting, there was discussion about requiring more rest days, depending on the number of pitches thrown. For example, a pitcher throwing more than 75 pitches would be required to rest four days before taking the mound again, and a pitcher throwing 50 pitches would rest three days.

Chris Sementelli, the program manager for MaineGeneral’s training staff, said perhaps the baseball committee should clearly define rest.

“If a kid catches the next game (after pitching) and throws back to the mound 130 times in the game, is that really rest?” Sementelli said.

Mike Burnham, the MPA assistant executive director, said that at many of the state’s smaller schools, the team’s best catcher often also is the best pitcher. Adding another level of rest could make it difficult for some small schools to actually field a team.

“I’m lucky if we have 10 kids (play baseball),” said Charles Brown, the principal at Rangeley, whose enrollment was 65 students last year.

A new preseason policy should help coaches develop more pitchers. In the past each team could have a week of throwing workouts with eight pitchers and two catchers before full team practices began. Now teams will be allowed to have as many pitchers and catchers as wanted for those workouts.

“It’s really in (the coaches’) best interest to take care of that pitcher’s arm,” Heinz said.

]]> 0 Thu, 11 Aug 2016 20:39:00 +0000
MPBN signs 3-year deal to broadcast state basketball championships Wed, 20 Jul 2016 16:52:03 +0000 The Maine Principals’ Association has reached an agreement with Maine Public Broadcasting Network to televise state championship games in all five boys’ and girls’ basketball classes for the next three years.

The agreement, announced on Wednesday, runs through 2019. Dick Durost, executive director of the MPA, said MPBN paid $10,000 for each of those years – the same price the two had negotiated for last year’s broadcasts.

“We are very excited to partner with the MPA for the next three years and continue the tradition of covering high school basketball in Maine,” said Mark Vogelzang, CEO of MPBN. “Offering basketball coverage to communities across Maine is very important to us.”

And having the championship games on MPBN was important to the MPA as well. “It’s what people have become used to over the years,” said Durost.

The MPA also reached a three-year agreement with the Northeast Sports Network to live-stream all North and South regional semifinal and final basketball games. All regional quarterfinal games will continue to be live-steamed by the NFHSNetwork. The MPA has a 10-year agreement with the NFHSNetwork that extends through the 2023 basketball tournament.

“These agreements solidify the MPA’s desire to make all postseason basketball tournament games available to anyone, anywhere, who cannot make it to the three tournament sites,” said Durost.

He added that it was nice to get the negotiations done this summer.

“The continuity is important, for people to know where they can find the quarterfinals, the semifinals, the regional finals, the state championships,” he said. “I know it’s bouncing around to several places, but people know where they are.”

Basketball tournament games are played in Bangor, Augusta and Portland.

]]> 1, 20 Jul 2016 23:20:25 +0000
East wins a scoring feast in the Lobster Bowl Sun, 17 Jul 2016 01:18:36 +0000 BIDDEFORD — The teams blew up the Lobster Bowl scoring record Saturday, and Andre Miller of Old Town was the master detonator.

The sturdy 6-foot-3 wide receiver with speed and sure hands caught a record-setting four touchdowns – all from his Old Town teammate, Jake Jarvis – in a wild shootout to lead the East to a 58-52 victory in the 27th Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic at Waterhouse Field.

Miller has been linked to the University of Maine but said after the game he’s undecided where he’ll play college football. He showed his skills with seven catches for 194 receiving yards and was named the East team’s MVP.

“Coming from Class C, a lot of players kind of underestimate me a little bit so I just wanted to show everyone what I had. Yeah, I feel like I did it,” Miller said.

He turned a jet screen into a scintillating 62-yard touchdown when he outran most of the defense, then hurdled a final tackle attempt to put the East ahead 44-30 with 4.4 seconds left before halftime.

The play came right after the West, which at one point trailed 30-8, scored with 21.5 seconds left in the half to get within six points.

In a game with limited outstanding defensive plays, the West got two big ones in the second half – an interception near the goal line and a 45-yard return by Jack Snyder of Yarmouth to end the East’s first possession; and a key tackle for a loss by Elijah Ayotte of Thornton Academy early in the fourth quarter.

Ayotte’s play set up the West to make it 52-52 on a 1-yard rush and subsequent two-point conversion run by its MVP, Zach Doyon of Marshwood, with 9:10 left.

Doyon rushed for 84 yards with two TDs, caught six passes, including a 3-yard score, and also completed a 36-yard pass to Corey Hart in his one play as the quarterback.

“We started out rough in the first half but we pulled it together,” Doyon said. “We knew we could come out and play well, and it was just a great football game. When they had 30 in the first half I said, ‘Oh my goodness, this is going to be a high-scoring affair.’ ”

On the next possession, Miller struck again, streaking across the middle to snare a well-thrown post pass by Jarvis.

“There was no safety in the middle of the field and you have a post called, there’s no question where you’re going with that one, especially with a great player like Andre on the outside,” Jarvis said.

“I was just looking to capitalize every time I got the ball because I knew I wouldn’t get the ball that much because we just had a great group of guys on this side of the ball,” Miller said. “I mean, we have a lot of playmakers so I was just looking to make every opportunity worth it.”

The East was able to come up with a rare stop when it sniffed out a fake punt and tackled Doyon for a 1-yard loss.

The East then turned to its power running game – which was also potent – to grind the clock down before giving the ball up at the West 5 with 21.5 seconds to play.

Fittingly, the West was able to get off four plays – the last included multiple laterals before Nate Pratt-Holt of Mt. Blue got his hands on the ball for the East to end the game.

The 110 combined points easily broke the previous record of 75 set in the East’s 40-35 win in 2010.

Only once before had a team scored 50 or more points (East’s 55-8 win in 2003).

Miller’s four touchdown catches also included grabs of 3 and 39 yards.

Also scoring for the East were Fitzpatrick Trophy winner Joe Esposito of Portland on runs of 7 and 1 yard in the first half, Will Bessey of Brunswick on a 7-yard run, and Johnson on a sweet 16-yard cutback run.

The East, which hurt itself early by fumbling two kick returns, got strong games from its two quarterbacks. Dalton Therrien of Oak Hill rushed for two scores, and he and Levi Craig of Leavitt combined to complete 15 passes for 231 yards, with Craig throwing touchdowns to Doyon and Hart.

]]> 0, 17 Jul 2016 13:05:47 +0000
Kirsten Pelletier named Morning Sentinel Softball Player of Year Sun, 17 Jul 2016 01:07:15 +0000 Messalonskee softball coach Leo Bouchard has watched good players come and go in his 11 years as head coach but he’s never seen one quite like Kirsten Pelletier.

“In all the years I’ve been coaching, I’ve never seen a person put in the time and effort not just to get better but to be the best,” Bouchard said.

A year ago as a junior, Pelletier struck out 12 in a 1-0 win against Scarborough in the Class A state championship game. She was even better this season as the Eagles went unbeaten in the regular season before being upset in the playoff semifinals. For her efforts, Pelletier has been selected Morning Sentinel Softball Player of the Year. Also considered was Madison catcher Aly LeBlanc who led the Bulldogs to the Class C state title.

Messalonskee didn’t return the hitting lineup it had a year ago but was nonetheless a better team this season, thanks in large part to Pelletier.

“Her pitching and our defense is what kept us in games,” Bouchard said.

Pelletier, who was named Maine’s Gatorade Softball Player of the Year this spring, struck out 225 batters in 133 innings this season while walking just 15. Opponents managed just a .112 batting average against her.

Although these numbers speak for themselves, they don’t reflect what Pelletier did to earn them. Three or four days a week she rousted her father Pete out of bed before 5 a.m. to get in pitching sessions before school. After school she followed a weight-training program submitted to her by the staff at Bates College where she’ll attend school this fall. She still found time for a part-time job at a local supermarket as well as making high honors at Messalonskee.

Pelletier started on Messalonskee’s field hockey team that went unbeaten in the regular season last fall but softball has always been her first love.

“I love it,” she said. “It’s something I fell into when I was little. My dad is awesome I owe everything to him.”

Pelletier was good a year ago but not nearly as dominant as she was this season, again a testimony to her hard work. Her fastball and changeup showed marked improvement and she developed a curve ball.

“I definitely worked on that last winter,” she said of the pitch. “I improved a lot since last year, listening and getting stronger.”

Pelletier improved as a hitter as well, raising her average nearly 100 points over last season to .317. An all-around athlete, she’s also an excellent fielder and baserunner.

“If she wasn’t pitching for me, she’d be playing shortstop,” Bouchard said. “She can do it all.”

As a team captain, Pelletier’s contributions to the team went even further.

“She was the leader in every aspect,” Bouchard said. “Her enthusiasm was contagious. She was contantly picking up kids who weren’t doing well.”

Pelletier admits she’s “not so happy” with the way the season ended for the Eagles, a 1-0 loss to Edward Little. Even in defeat she was nearly flawless. Only two batters reached — the first on a single and error who later scored on an infield hit. Otherwise Pelletier didn’t allow a baserunner while striking out 10.

This summer, in addition to working a couple of jobs, Pelletier is pitching for the Maine Thunder 18-plus team. The squad recently won a big tournament in Swansee, Massachusetts against older and more experienced competition, including five games in the final day. Pelletier, who pitches half the games for the Thunder, came on in relief in the championship game and struck out the side in the final inning to seal the win.

At Bates she plans to study neuroscience and “see where it takes me” while working to improve her softball skills. The Bobcats struggled to a 5-32 record last year and went 0-12 in conference play.

“I think she will help turn the the program around,” Bouchard said.

]]> 0, 16 Jul 2016 21:24:19 +0000
Sacopee Valley player finally gets to play a big game Sun, 17 Jul 2016 00:56:11 +0000 BIDDEFORD — Two hours before the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl kickoff Saturday at Waterhouse Field, Derek and Rebecca Maynard were in their seats at the 50-yard line.

They weren’t going to miss a second of this.

After two years of watching their son, Roderick, play junior varsity football for a Sacopee Valley High program struggling to stay alive, the Maynards couldn’t wait to see their son play with the best recently graduated high school football players in the state.

“He’s an athlete and he’ll find his niche,” Derek Maynard said. “He knows football.”

Maynard played safety for the West. And while his team often was overmatched in the East’s 58-52 victory – the highest-scoring game in the Lobster Bowl’s 27-year history – Maynard was pleased with the entire experience.

“I’ve never faced anybody super athletic like that, as far as defense goes. It was a shock to see the talent that was on the other side,” he said. “I tried to face it as best I could. I had a couple nice hits. I did what I could.”

It was an enormous step up in competition for Maynard, who spent the last two seasons trying to help keep Sacopee Valley football afloat.

In its first five seasons as a varsity program, Sacopee Valley went 0-40. As the losses mounted, participation dropped.

When Maynard was a sophomore, the Hawks were forced to forfeit two games when they didn’t have enough players to field a team.

“We actually played a game with 14 kids,” Maynard said. “I never experienced a varsity win. I never experienced what it’s like to go to the playoffs. This is the closest thing I’ve ever come to a super competitive game.”

When fewer than 20 players came out for football for Maynard’s junior year, the team scaled back from varsity and played a junior varsity schedule as it tried to rebuild.

After Maynard’s senior season, Sacopee Valley Coach Jim Walsh worked to get Maynard a spot in the Lobster Bowl.

“The way (Walsh) promoted Roderick after the season was over was incredible,” Rebecca Maynard said.

The Maynards said Roderick never became discouraged by the Hawks’ lack of success. Rather, he worked to build up his teammates.

“You know what Roderick always said? He said, ‘We’re a bunch of guys who have become a family,'” Derek Maynard said.

When he heard he was selected to the Lobster Bowl, Maynard was thrilled.

“It was eye-opening to see people notice you, no matter where you come from. You can be just as good as the next kid, even if you’re not from the strongest program,” he said.

Maynard is a talented athlete who led the Hawks to the Class C baseball title in June and was a finalist for the Dr. John Winkin Award as the state’s top high school baseball player.

Still, when he arrived at Lobster Bowl training camp at Foxcroft Academy, it was a big adjustment.

For starters, Sacopee Valley never had enough players to run double-session practices, never mind the triple sessions he faced with the West.

“It was kind of overwhelming, but I got used to it,” he said. “It was fun.”

“Everybody on our team was expected to do their job and show up for practice, and he did great,” said Stacen Doucette, the West head coach and three-time state champion at Oak Hill. “He did a great job.”

Maynard got involved in the game early.

On the East’s second drive, Maynard came from the middle of the field, running hard to his right to chase down Dane Johnson of Bangor for a tackle.

On the next play, he made a stop by pushing Cheverus receiver Dan Baker out of bounds after a catch.

In the third quarter, Maynard tackled Anthony Brunelle of Cony along the sidelines on consecutive catches.

Despite never being on the field with so much talent, Maynard kept his head.

“I kind of do my thing, whether the skill level is here,” Maynard said, holding his hand low before bringing it above his head, “or here.

“I try to do what I’ve been taught as far as football goes. I try to be the best football player I can be, on and off the field.”

In the future, Maynard will stick with baseball. He plans on playing at St. Joseph’s College next year.

He and his family are thankful for the one last chance to play football.

“When it was a probability that the (Sacopee Valley) program had to step back, we weren’t sure this was going to happen,” Derek Maynard said. “This is just great.”

]]> 0 Sat, 16 Jul 2016 21:01:18 +0000
Fathers and sons to cap football stories at Lobster Bowl Sat, 16 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 DOVER-FOXCROFT — For Alex LaFountain and Ricky Tillotson, football always has been shared with their fathers.

So it just made sense for their dads to be with them as they prepared to play in the 27th Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl on Saturday.

“I thought it would be cool to go out together,” said LaFountain, a strong safety from Mt. Ararat High. His father, Mark LaFountain, is an assistant coach for the West team.

Tillotson, a linebacker from Yarmouth, echoed the sentiment. His dad, Rick Tillotson, is another West assistant.

“My dad has been my coach since I started playing in second grade,” Tillotson said. “We’ve been pretty much together all the way through and it’s just kind of cool that I get to go out having him as a coach.”

“It’s kind of the end of a chapter and the start of a new one after this game is over,” said Alex LaFountain, who will play at Plymouth State. “I’m enjoying it a lot. It’s different, but it’s good.”

Neither father is directly coaching his son. Mark LaFountain, who retired after a second stint as Mt. Ararat’s head coach (2007-10, 2015), is directing the wide receivers and tight ends.

“That’s good. He’s hearing a different voice. He’s heard my voice enough,” Mark LaFountain said.

Rick Tillotson, an assistant at Yarmouth, is coaching the defensive ends.

“I’ve been hanging out with the coaches and he’s hanging out with the kids so we haven’t really interacted a bunch,” Rick Tillotson said. “I think when it’s all over it will just be one more thing we can reflect on together.”

The Lobster Bowl is an all-star game that raises money for Shrine hospitals. Over $500,000 has been raised in the previous 26 years.

Several father-son tandems have participated.

Most recently, Brad Bishop, a longtime head coach at several schools, and his son, Kyle (Waterville), were part of the 2011 game. So was the Greely combo of Dave Higgins and his son, Jonathan.

Two years later, Edward Little Coach David Sterling was the East head coach and his son, Alex, played.

Mark LaFountain said he long hoped he and Alex could join that list.

“I would have loved to have played in this game. It didn’t exist when I came through,” said Mark LaFountain, a Winslow High graduate. “Selfishly, it was great to come up here and see what this was like. I probably could have volunteered to do that other years, but when Alex made the team, what a great way to go out. I could see what it was like and I could be here with my own son.”

Rick Tillotson didn’t expect to be on the field with his son. He received an unexpected call from West Coach Stacen Doucette while watching one of Ricky’s playoff lacrosse games. Taking time off in the summer – he owns a landscape company – wasn’t ideal, “but I just had to do it and I’m thrilled I did.”

Football won’t be completely finished for either family.

Rick Tillotson will return to the Yarmouth staff for his fifth season as an assistant. Ricky Tillotson will attend Eastern Nazarene, a 1,200-student private college in Quincy, Massachusetts, that doen’t have a football team.

While Alex LaFountain will play Division III football at Plymouth State, Mark LaFountain said his coaching days are done. He took the Mt. Ararat job in May 2015 when the school was still searching for a replacement for Frank True, who had taken the football coaching job at Hyde School. LaFountain first resigned following the 2010 season because, “I just wanted to go with (Alex) through the ranks as an assistant and let him have the focus.”

During the Lobster Bowl, the focus will be on the players. But when the game is over, the fathers and sons will come together as they have done so many times before.

“It’s kind of a nice way to wrap things up,” Ricky Tillotson said.

]]> 0, 15 Jul 2016 21:59:23 +0000
Marathon soccer game to benefit ShineOnCass Foundation Thu, 14 Jul 2016 23:17:23 +0000 Not surprisingly for someone who’s headed to the University of Maine to play the game at the NCAA Division I level, Riley Field originally came up with the idea of a marathon field hockey game to honor Cassidy Charette.

The more Field thought about it, however, the more it didn’t quite fit what she wanted to do to honor one of her best friends.

“Two years ago I had the idea,’I think it would be really cool to do a record-long field hockey game,'” Field said. “But then I realizd that soccer would make more sense because it was the game Cassidy played and loved.”

And so, Kick Around The Clock For Cass was born.

The event takes place this Sunday as an 11-hour marathon soccer game at Harold Alfond Stadium on the campus of Colby College involving more than 30 teams and 450 players of all ages and abilities. Play begins at 9 a.m. and continues non-stop until 8 p.m., culminating with an hour-long game between the Messalonskee High School girls team and the Central Maine United Under-18 team at 7 p.m. — two teams Charette was a big part of.

Charette, who was tragically killed in a hayride accident in the fall of 2014, wore No. 11 during her soccer career — hence, the 11-hour game.

“I hope that people just remember Cassidy and realize that after two years, we’re still doing things like this to homor her for being the amazing person and student she was,” Field said. “It shows the positive mark she left on everybody that she was around.”

Players pay a $10 registration fee to be part of the game with all proceeds going to the recently-formed ShineOnCass Foundation. A number of area businesses have come on board to donate food, water and other items for sale at the event.

By Wednesday evening, all of the available time slots for teams had been filled. Field had begun assigning some players to teams that weren’t quite full.

“Colby has been amazing. They were really quick to say yes to something like this,” Field said. “I thought we might have more of a struggle than we did. They have such great facilities over there, but Jacque Moore, their event director, was completely on board from the beginning. I can’t thank them enough.”

“It’s quite a group of people, and they continue to amaze me,” said Monica Charette, Cassidy’s mother. “It completely astounds me to see all the ways how people choose to shine her light.”

Charette said the ShineOnCass Foundation is in the process of becoming a full-fledged 501c3 non-profit organation, pending final approval. The Charettes decided to go the route of starting a foundation after receiving such overwhelming support from the community.

The foundation hired a board of directors and their first task was to determine a recipient for the Cassidy Charette Scholarship, Charette said.

Currently, the foundation is involved with the Big Brothers Big Sisters Of Mid Maine, Cass’ Kitchen and Cassidy’s Kids at the Mount Merici School.

“There’s no end to what people want to do. They don’t want to forget Cassidy,” Charette said. “They have an intense desire to live out her legacy for her, and it’s incredibly humbling.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

]]> 0, 14 Jul 2016 19:17:23 +0000
Windham High’s Dylan Koza completes a comeback to play in Lobster Bowl Thu, 14 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 DOVER-FOXCROFT — Dylan Koza’s senior football season at Windham High lasted less than a quarter.

Moments after scoring a touchdown last fall in the season opener at Lewiston, the talented two-way player broke his tibia just above his left ankle. With one ill-fated step, Koza’s goal of helping Windham get back to the Class A state championship game was gone.

But one long-held goal was not lost. If he could heal well and be diligent about his rehabilitation, Koza believed he could play in the Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic, the annual all-star football game. He certainly had the credentials – 928 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior with 45 tackles as a defensive back despite missing two games.

“This opportunity to be included with the best of the best was definitely something I wanted to be a part of since I was young,” he said.

Koza will complete his comeback Saturday when he pulls on his red number 25 East team jersey for the 27th annual Lobster Bowl at Waterhouse Field in Biddeford (4 p.m. kickoff).

“Dylan’s fantastic,” said East Coach Bob Sinclair of Orono. “He’s a cover corner. He’s a very bright football player and for him he gets a chance to come back.”

Koza anticipates going head-to-head against Thornton Academy’s Corey Hart. The two matched up in the Trojans’ 35-14 state championship victory over Windham in 2014, with Hart catching a touchdown pass.

Koza has a vivid reminder of the injury: a pinkie-wide, six-inch scar running from his ankle up the outside of his leg. He said the injury happened when “my foot kind of stuck in the ground and my body kept going and the momentum just broke it apart.” Koza can feel the metal plate and eight attached screws that helped the bone mend moving around. He’ll have surgery two weeks after the Lobster Bowl to have the metal removed.

The physical recovery went smoothly enough that Koza was able to be Windham’s starting right fielder in baseball this spring.

“It was a little rough in the beginning but by the end of the season I was actually able to steal bases again,” Koza said. “I was running like an old man at first.”

Any questions about whether his leg was strong enough for football have been answered in Lobster Bowl practice sessions.

“It’s definitely good,” Koza said. “It was worth it, by far. Practices are long … but it’s football. It’s just good to be back out here.”

Windham football coach Matt Perkins said as soon as Koza could move about on crutches he was attending practices last fall.

“And he isn’t out there going, ‘Oh, why me?’ He’s helping the young kids on offense and defense and doing what he can do to help the team,” Perkins said. “We as a coaching staff thought the world of him before he got hurt and his actions after the injury just confirmed that.”

Koza said getting to play in the Lobster Bowl also helped to clarify his college plans.

Koza will attend the University of Maine to study chemical engineering. He applied for and earned one of the university’s Pulp and Paper Foundation full-tuition scholarships. But even with the scholarship offer, Koza says he was still considering Worcester Polytechnic Institute because WPI has a Division III football program.

“I think I still could have been going down to WPI if it wasn’t for this game,” Koza said.

“It wouldn’t have been the right decision, really. I would have been making it based on football not on the rest of the life. I’m glad. If this game wasn’t here I’d probably be in a lot more debt. This game kind of put me on the right track for the rest of my life. This game gave me the opportunity to play one more time and get some closure on football.”

]]> 0, 14 Jul 2016 08:57:24 +0000
Coming next spring to high school baseball: Pitch counts Tue, 12 Jul 2016 20:57:39 +0000 Starting next spring, Maine will restrict pitch counts rather than innings pitched in high school baseball.

The National Federation of State High School Associations, which establishes playing rules for high school athletics across the country, announced the change Tuesday.

Driving the change is a concern for safety, partly because of the rise in ligament-replacement elbow surgeries (known as Tommy John) among adolescents.

“We’ve had an inning rule for a number of years,” said Mike Burnham, an assistant executive director of the Maine Principals’ Association, “but during any given inning the number of pitches can fluctuate so much that this is just a better way of protecting those young arms.”

The MPA will be required to come up with a policy detailing the number of pitches that a player can throw in a game. Under the NFHS guidelines, each state will be allowed to come up with its own policy.

“We’re giving states lots of latitude on how they’re going to do this,” said Dr. William Heinz, a Portland-based orthopedist who is the chair of the NFHS medical advisory board and serves on the MPA’s sports medicine committee.

“What we’re trying to do is generate awareness, that you’ve got to pay attention to these arms and not let them throw forever.”

Participation numbers for high school baseball in Maine have held steady over the past five years, with a low of 3,309 in 2015 and a high of 3,366 in 2014. A 2015 study by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons showed that more than half (57 percent) of the 790 Tommy John surgeries performed between 2007 and 2011 involved high school pitchers aged 15 to 19, with an average annual increase among that age group of 9 percent.

In order to comply with the new policy, Burnham said Phil St. Onge, the Nokomis High assistant principal who is chair of the MPA baseball committee, will attend the next MPA sports medicine committee meeting in August before convening the MPA’s baseball committee in October.

“We want to make sure that both of those committees are on the same page,” Burnham said. “The baseball committee typically wouldn’t meet until after the new year, but knowing this is coming and needs to go before the full membership for a vote, they’re meeting (on Oct. 18).”

Burnham cited USA Baseball’s Pitch Smart program, which recommends pitch limits according to the age of the pitcher as well as prescribed rest between appearances. For example, a 15- or 16-year-old should max out at 95 pitches in a game and rest four days if throwing more than 75 pitches, three if between 61 and 75, two if between 46 and 60 and one if between 31 and 45. No rest is required for pitchers throwing up to 30 pitches in a game. For those aged 17-18, the recommended rest requirements are the same, but the maximum per game rises to 105.

Vermont, which has been using pitch count limits for a decade, doesn’t do it by age. Instead, a varsity pitcher is limited to 120 pitches, a junior varsity pitcher to 110 and a middle school pitcher to 85.

“Everybody’s different,” said Ray Petit, who recently resigned from Thornton Academy after six years as head baseball coach and 11 as an assistant. “I just don’t think pitch count is the way to go. You have different sizes and different strengths.”

Petit pointed to his pitching staff this spring, which included a freshman, a sophomore and a senior who plans to continue pitching in college.

“(Senior) Ben Lambert can go 100 pitches,” Petit said. “(Freshman) Luke Chessie can’t. He can maybe go 75-80. Everybody’s strength and size should go into it but I don’t know how you would do that.”

Josh Stowell, who recently completed his second year as head coach for Deering High, said he thinks pitch counts offer a better measure of fatigue than innings. Someone with poor control and plentiful walks can throw many more pitches than an efficient strike-thrower, who under current guidelines would have to take a day off even if he throws only 10 pitches in two innings.

“I think a pitch count is definitely the way to go,” he said. “It won’t be a big adjustment.”

Whether umpires, scorekeepers or some central agency keeps tabs on each pitcher has yet to be determined.

“I don’t see this as being a huge controversy,” said the MPA’s Burnham, “as long as it’s very clearly defined how we’re going to track it.”

]]> 0, 12 Jul 2016 21:31:36 +0000
Biddeford grad appreciates his Lobster Bowl spot Tue, 12 Jul 2016 15:56:00 +0000 DOVER-FOXCROFT — Tyler Janelle was the last player added to the West roster for the 27th annual Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic – but he’s not complaining.

“I realized that it’s not easy to make the team and there are a lot of good players,” said Janelle, who played wide receiver and defensive back for Biddeford High and was added to the roster when another player dropped out. “I mean, it kind of sucked to not get picked but I never really gave up because my coach said, ‘Hey, you never know. They could always call. Be ready for that phone call. So I was hoping every day.”

In fact, Janelle had taken Lobster Bowl week off from his summer landscaping job, just in case he got the call and could take the field at Biddeford’s Waterhouse Field one more time.

Meanwhile, West Coach Stacen Doucette of Oak Hill had identified Janelle as a potential replacement. Just in case.

“We had taken (Biddeford’s) Lucas Rhoy on offense,” Doucette said. “Since I’m not real familiar with the guys from (southern Maine), I watched a lot of film. We saw Tyler as someone who could help us and, as it turned out, we had a need at cornerback.”

The Lobster Bowl at 4 p.m. Saturday will feature the state’s top seniors from the 2015 high school football season.

While Janelle jumped at his chance to participate, other players are increasingly declining invitations.

“I’d call it a trend,” said Rick Hersom, a Shriner who has been associated with the Lobster Bowl for 20 years. “You’re asking them to give up a week of their summer. Some have (American) Legion baseball. They have jobs. For some, it’s a lot easier to say no than it is to say yes.”

The game is sponsored by the Kora Shrine, with all net proceeds donated to Shriner hospitals. Over $500,000 has been raised over the previous 26 years.

Each player is asked to raise a minimum of $500. All players spend Sunday through Friday at a training camp at Foxcroft Academy.

Future college players are sometimes restricted from playing. Thornton Academy quarterback Austin McCrum could not participate because he is currently at Lafayette College for football camp, according to B.J. Robbins, the West team’s athletic director. McCrum accepted a scholarship from Lafayette.

But to players like Janelle and Fitzpatrick Trophy winner Joe Esposito of Portland High, the Lobster Bowl is still something special and well worth any personal sacrifices. Esposito will play fullback and linebacker for the East team.

“I’m not playing in college and I just remember taking my pads off for the last time was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do because I’ve been (playing football) since the second grade,” said Esposito, who will attend the University of Rhode Island. “Just having this last chance to go play and do something I really love, I can’t turn down an opportunity like that.”

Janelle is looking to write a better ending to his football career. Two days before last fall’s Class B quarterfinal playoff game against Westbrook, he suffered a bad ankle sprain. All he could do was watch as Westbrook came into Waterhouse and beat the Tigers 39-13. Two of Westbrook’s touchdowns came on 44-yard pass plays to Bailey Ryan.

“My season ended short,” Janelle said. “So I didn’t get my last game on my home field. I was really hoping for another game and I ended up getting it. It’s really going to be a big game for me.”

Doucette said the 6-foot-1 Janelle will factor into the game plan.

“He’s an athletic defensive back,” Doucette said. “We haven’t decided (starters) yet, that’s how competitive it’s been.”

The East features tall receivers in 6-foot-3 Andre Miller of Old Town (35 catches, 11 TD catches as a senior) and 6-foot-4 Hunter Smith of Foxcroft Academy.

“I’ve played against some big kids, (who are) fast and strong. Size doesn’t really matter to me,” said Janelle. “Just go up there and play my game.”

NOTES: Esposito said when the East is in its Wing-T formation, he’ll be at fullback with Brunswick’s Will Bessey and Bangor’s Dane Johnson as the wing backs. Combined, the trio rushed for 4,711 yards and 57 touchdowns as seniors. … Cheverus lineman Frank Curran, originally on the East team, is not playing because of an injury suffered in lacrosse. … East Coach Bob Sinclair of Orono was the head coach once before, leading the East to its first win in the series in 1999. … The West leads the all-time series, 18-8, winning last year’s game 45-21 to break a two-year skid. … The East will also employ a spread formation on offense. “It’s our job to put the playmakers in a position to do what they do best,” Sinclair said.

]]> 0, 12 Jul 2016 20:34:39 +0000
Maine’s spring high school sports players of the year Sun, 10 Jul 2016 08:00:23 +0000 0, 11 Jul 2016 15:28:44 +0000 Girls’ track: Adelaide Cooke, Falmouth Sun, 10 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Adelaide Cooke’s rare performance at the state meet in June led Falmouth to its first Class A girls’ championship in outdoor track and field.

But her throws coach, June Tait, didn’t start referring to Cooke as “clutch” until her performance the following week at the New England Championships. Cooke went from eighth place to second in the discus on her final throw (117 feet, 4 inches) – while competing in a downpour.

“There was a puddle in the discus circle. All the throwers were slipping and falling and fouling out,” Tait said. “Adelaide had to wear her running shoes, which is unheard of at that elite level. But she’s a champion. She went from eighth to second in dismal conditions.”

Cooke, a junior, recorded personal bests in winning the shot put (39-111/2) and discus (131-0) at the state meet. She also finished second in the javelin (110-10) and fourth in the 100-meter hurdles (16.03 seconds). Because of those performances, she’s the Maine Sunday Telegram Athlete of the Year in girls’ outdoor track and field.

Cooke pulled off a come-from-behind victory in the shot put at the state meet. She was in second place heading into her final throw.

In the discus, Cooke improved from 124-11/2 to 131-0. She said mastering a firmer grip on the disc with the help of chalk proved the key. But Tait said the well-timed improvement was because of Cooke’s constant drive.

“She is such an amazing athlete,” Tait said. “And she works hard at all three throws. I’ve been working with her since middle school. She is a fierce competitor, but now she’s learned to channel that competitiveness.”

Cooke, who also plays soccer and basketball at Falmouth, wants to compete in the pentathlon (indoors) and heptathlon (outdoors) at the NCAA Division I level. She continues to play other sports, she said because they help with her overall athletic skills and strength.

In track and field, Cooke’s training regime is rigorous. She works on sprints and hurdles in the morning before school, and jumps and throws after school. Then she does strength work on the weekends.

“Dad and I wrote a list of goals at the start of the season,” Cooke said. “Some were a reach, but even some of (those) I achieved, like the team winning states. But I said, ‘We can do this.’ It’s one of the coolest things.”

Telegram All-State team

Adelaide Cooke, Falmouth junior: Won the shot put (39-111/2) and discus (131-0), and was second in the javelin (110-10) and fourth in the 100-meter hurdles (16.03) at the Class A meet. Took second in the discus (117-4) at the New England championships.

Samantha Curran, Thornton Academy junior: Was second in the shot put (39-71/2) and fourth in the discus (106-7) at the Class A meet. Also earned All-New England honors, taking sixth in the shot put (37-1).

Emma Egan, Yarmouth senior: Won the high jump (5-4) and long jump (15-9) at the Class B state meet. Also earned All-New England honors, finishing fourth in the high jump (5-3).

Adela Kalilwa, Lewiston senior: Set a Class A record of 18-33/4 in the long jump and also won the triple jump (36-53/4). Was fifth in the triple jump (37-11/2) at the New Englands.

Tahlia Mullen, Lincoln Academy sophomore: Won the 200 (26.11) and 400 (58.94) at the Class B state meet, winning the 400 by a half-second.

Britanee Nouchanthavong, Edward Little junior: Won the javelin by 19 feet at the Class A state meet with a throw of 129-0. Finished fourth at the New England championships (125-8).

Allison Pickering, Orono senior: Won the pole vault at the Class C state meet (10-0) and finished fifth at the New England championships (10-3) to earn All-New England status.

Lauren Stoops, Orono senior: Won the 100 dash (12.72) and 300 hurdles (45.71) at the Class C state meet, and ran on the winning 1,600 relay that broke the Class C record (4:05.00).

Tia Tardy, Orono junior: Won the 800 with a Class C record time (2:13.03) and was on the 1,600 relay team that set a Class C record (4:05.00). Ranked No. 1 in the state in the 800 (2:12.19), 1,600 (5:02.45) and 3,200 (11:04.87).

Emily Turner, Cheverus junior: Won the 100 (12.70), 200 (25.92) and 400 (56.57) at the Class A state meet, taking the 400 in a state-record time. Earned All-New England honors by finishing fifth in the 400 (56.57).

Coach of the Year
Danny Paul, Falmouth: Led the Yachtsmen to their first outdoor state title in 25 years and their first in Class A, just three years after they moved up to compete against the bigger schools.

]]> 0, 09 Jul 2016 16:58:31 +0000
Girls’ tennis: Julia Brogan, Falmouth Sun, 10 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 After three years as the understudy, Falmouth High senior Julia Brogan emerged into the spotlight this spring.

Brogan picked up where former teammate Olivia Leavitt left off, keeping the Maine Principals’ Association state singles title in Falmouth for a fourth straight year.

A two-time semifinalist entering this spring, Brogan drew the third seed and ran the table, culminating in straight-sets victories over No. 2 Bethany Hammond of St. Dominic in the semifinals and No. 4 Rosemary Campanella of Wells in the finals.

“I was really determined this year to finally win states,” Brogan said. “I feel I came really close my freshman and sophomore and junior years, so I was determined to go out on a high note.”

Brogan, who also led Falmouth to a ninth consecutive team state title, is our choice as Maine Sunday Telegram Player of the Year in girls’ tennis.

Falmouth Coach Bill Goodspeed said Brogan’s willingness to work hard, improve her fitness and embrace different styles of play – depending on her opponent – allowed her to take a giant leap forward this spring.

“That made her more dangerous and less predictable on the court,” he said. “It’s impressive to see someone who was that good willing to try new things to get even better.”

After three unbeaten seasons in team competition, Brogan lost a regular-season match, 6-1, 6-3 to Yarmouth freshman Lana Mavor. A potential rematch in the finals of the singles tournament failed to materialize when a back injury forced Mavor, the No. 1 seed, to withdraw during her semifinal.

“I was actually looking forward to playing Lana a second time,” Brogan said. “I think I was able to get a pretty good read on her game.”

Instead, Brogan dispatched Hammond, 6-2, 7-6 (3) before sewing up the title with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Campanella.

“I went from Bethany, who’s crafty, lefty and athletic, to Rosemary, who’s a power hitter who goes for everything,” Brogan said. “So I had to have two completely different strategies on the same day. Fortunately, that’s something I’ve been working on.”

Brogan plans to continue her tennis career at Trinity College and major in economics. She was a three-year member of the National Honor Society, and recently learned she is an Advanced Placement Scholar with Distinction.

“She is perhaps the most determined, hardest-working player I’ve ever seen,” Goodspeed said. “She’s also very dedicated to her academics. I will always remember her as being a very disciplined kid. I think it will serve her well in life.”

Telegram All-State team

Julia Brogan, Falmouth senior: Won her first state singles championship as the third seed, defeating No. 4 Rosemary Campanella 6-1, 6-0 in the final. Also led Falmouth to a third straight Class A state title and ninth overall. Went 13-1 in team play, losing only to Lana Mavor in mid-May. Plans to continue her career at Trinity College.

Rosemary Campanella, Wells sophomore: Runner-up in the state singles tournament as the fourth seed, falling 6-1, 6-0 to Julia Brogan in the final. Went 10-1 for the Kennebunk/Wells cooperative team, losing only to Brogan. Did not drop a game in the singles tournament until the championship match.

Liv Clifford, Cape Elizabeth junior: Quarterfinalist in the state singles tournament as the eighth seed who lost to top seed Lana Mavor, 6-1, 6-1. Went 8-5 in the regular season – losing only to the top five seeds of the singles tourney – and unbeaten in the playoffs to lead the Capers (13-3) to their first Class B state title in nine years.

Bethany Hammond, St. Dominic junior: Second seed in the state singles tournament who reached the semifinals for the third straight year before losing to eventual champ Julia Brogan, 6-2, 7-6 (3). Unbeaten in team play to lead St. Dom’s to the Class C title, the school’s first in 21 years. Singles finalist in 2015.

Lana Mavor, Yarmouth freshman: Top seed in state singles tournament who withdrew from her semifinal match after aggravating a lower back injury. Never lost a set in the regular season and was the only player in the state to defeat singles champ Julia Brogan, 6-1, 6-3 in a mid-May match in which Mavor first hurt her back.

Megan Nathanson, Scarborough senior: Sixth seed in the state singles tournament who reached the quarterfinals before falling 6-2, 6-1 to eventual champion Julia Brogan. Led Scarborough to best-ever 14-1 record and a regional final appearance. Did not lose a set other than to Brogan. Will continue her career at Nichols College.

Caroline Ray, Falmouth senior: Quarterfinalist for the second straight year in the state singles tournament, as the seventh seed. Lost a hard-fought match (6-4, 7-5) to No. 2 Bethany Hammond in the quarters. Went 14-0 in team play to help Falmouth extend its winning streak to 141 matches and nine state titles. Will continue her career at Stonehill College.

Lena Rich, North Yarmouth Academy senior: Quarterfinalist for the second straight year as the fifth seed in the state singles tournament, losing to runner-up Rosemary Campanella. Went 8-4 in team play to help NYA reach the Class C South semifinals before falling to eventual champ St. Dominic. Will continue her career at Oberlin College.

Coach of the Year
Sarah Boeckel, Cape Elizabeth: Coming off a surprising loss to Yarmouth in the regional quarterfinals a year ago, the Capers rolled through the Class B tournament this year with three straight 5-0 victories before knocking off Camden Hills 4-1 for the state title, the program’s first in nine years. Six of the top seven players returned, including four seniors. “They make me look good,” said Boeckel. “We knew we had experience on our side and (knew) what needed to be done.”

]]> 0, 09 Jul 2016 16:58:41 +0000
Boys’ tennis: Nick Mathieu, Mt. Ararat Sun, 10 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 After finishing as runner-up of the Maine Principals’ Association state singles tournament as a freshman and a sophomore, Nick Mathieu began this spring with a different outlook.

“I’m running out of chances,” he said. “There was definitely a lot more on the line.”

A stronger, fitter Mathieu broke through, overcoming a semifinal scare to set up a three-set victory for the state title. The Mt. Ararat High junior capped his run by defeating Thornton Academy freshman Dariy Vykhodtsev 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 in the final.

Mathieu is our choice as Maine Sunday Telegram Player of the Year in boys’ tennis.

“I played my best tennis in the last set of the finals,” Mathieu said. “That’s because I’m in better shape this year.”

Mathieu lost to Brendan McCarthy of Falmouth in the 2014 final and Isaac Salas of Waynflete a year ago, Mathieu’s first as the top seed. Finding himself shaky and tight in the 2015 final was a wakeup call, he said.

“I felt like I was going to win the tournament because I was the (No. 1) seed,” he said. “But it doesn’t work that way. You have to earn it. This year, I put in the work.”

Since coming up short against Salas, Mathieu hit the weight room and the road. He put in 10-mile runs a few times a week and worked as much on his fitness as he did on his strokes.

“Every match, I went out like I was playing in the finals,” he said. “Last year, I was focusing more on who was on the other side of the court. This year, I knew if I play my game and I’m confident, I think I can win no matter who I’m playing. It really comes down to my game.”

Which is why he didn’t panic after falling behind 3-0 in his semifinal against Cape Elizabeth senior Michael Mills, the fourth seed. Mathieu fought back to win the set on the way to a 7-6 (5), 6-1 victory.

Aside from Mathieu and sophomore Peter Mao, the Eagles had almost no experience. Both went unbeaten in team play, and the rest of the team won at least one point in five of 12 regular-season matches to earn the fifth seed in Class A North.

Longtime Mt. Ararat Coach Don Foley said Mathieu deserves credit for helping nurture those new to the sport.

“He does a tremendous amount of work with the kids,” Foley said. “They look up to him, follow his instructions. He’s like another coach. Peter does, too. I can’t say enough about them.”

A high honors student, Mathieu has plenty of college options. He plans on majoring in business with a minor in biology. Medical school is under consideration.

“I have all my doors open,” he said.

Telegram All-State team

Thomas Brent, Gorham senior: The No. 12 seed in the state singles tournament, he knocked off No. 5 Thomas Jarmusz of Morse 6-2, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals before falling to Michael Mills of Cape Elizabeth. He went 13-0 in team play this spring to cap a 50-5 career. Brent plans to continue his career at Endicott College.

Nick Forester, Falmouth freshman: The second seed in the state singles tournament, he was forced to withdraw in the first set of his semifinal match after stepping on a stray ball and injuring his knee. He was 16-0 to that point in team and tournament play. Comfortable hitting forehand groundstrokes with either hand.

Matthew Jarmusz, Morse junior: Quarterfinalist in the state singles tournament as the 11th seed, knocking off No. 6 Cole Ouellette of Lewiston 7-6 (3), 6-1 before falling to No. 3 Dariy Vykhodtsev of Thornton Academy. Unbeaten in team play at No. 2 singles, dropping only nine games and no sets while winning 14 matches.

Alex Klemperer, Falmouth sophomore: The eighth seed in the singles tournament who reached the quarterfinals before falling to top seed and eventual champion Nick Mathieu, 6-2, 6-1. Unbeaten in team play until falling to Dariy Vykhodstsev in the Class A South final.

Peter Mao, Mt. Ararat sophomore: Quarterfinalist as the 10th seed in the state singles tournament who knocked off No. 7 Ryan Chasse of Fort Kent 7-5, 6-1 before falling to No. 2 seed Nick Forester. Unbeaten in 13 team matches at No. 2 singles for the Eagles (5-7), who were edged 3-2 in the Class A North quarterfinals by No. 4 Mt. Blue.

Nick Mathieu, Mt. Ararat junior: State singles champion after twice finishing as runner-up. Beat No. 3
Dariy Vykhodtsev 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 in the final, dropping a set for the first time all spring. Went 12-0 in the regular season, losing only nine games total. Unbeaten in three years in team play.

Michael Mills, Cape Elizabeth senior: Semifinalist in the state singles tournament as the fourth seed, losing 7-6 (5), 6-1 to No. 1 seed Nick Mathieu. Went 7-2 in the regular season, losing only to Nick Forester before leading the Capers (13-3) to the Class B final with a 4-0 record in the playoffs. Will continue his career at Gettysburg College.

Dariy Vykhodtsev, Thornton Academy freshman: Runner-up in the singles tournament, where he extended Nick Mathieu to three sets. Also led the Golden Trojans to the first Class A state championship in school history. Went 12-0 in team competition, never dropping a set and losing only 18 games total.

Coach of the Year
Pete Webster, York: Coming off a combined record of 1-23 the previous two seasons, the Wildcats turned things around with a squad that included five sophomores and only one senior in the starting lineup. York went 6-6 to earn the No. 5 seed in Class B South, and upset No. 4 Gardiner and No. 1 Lincoln Academy before falling 3-2 to three-time defending state champ Cape Elizabeth. “We have risen from the ashes,” said Webster. “We definitely have something to build on with this young team. A bunch of them were soccer players, so they were good athletes with good hand-eye coordination and good foot skills.”

]]> 0, 09 Jul 2016 16:58:48 +0000
Softball: Stephanie Rundlett, York Sun, 10 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Mona Blais, the York High softball coach, already knows she isn’t going to replace pitcher Stephanie Rundlett next year.

“A pitcher like that comes along once in a lifetime,” she said. “You’re lucky to have a few who have done what she’s done. Special players like that, you don’t replace them, you just hope the next group comes in and buys into what you’re teaching and build from there.”

Rundlett graduated from York this spring and will pitch at Fordham University.

After helping York reach the Class B state championship game for the first time in 25 years, Rundlett was selected as the Maine Sunday Telegram Player of the Year in softball.

She was the state’s most dominating pitcher, striking out an astounding 303 batters in 119 innings – including 64 in 29 innings in four playoff games – while compiling a 16-1 record as York won the Class B South title before losing to Old Town 6-3 in the state championship game. As disappointing as the loss was, Rundlett said the season was definitely a success.

“We were close as a team,” she said. “We did everything together and not just on the field, everything that happened outside, too. Hanging with everybody was a great time.”

Rundlett, a two-time Telegram All-State selection, finished her career with 684 strikeouts. She also led the Wildcats this year with a .632 batting average, hitting four home runs, driving in 24 and scoring 12.

“She was one of the most unselfish players I’ve ever met,” said Blais. “She really thinks about her teammates before herself. And she’s very humble in what she does.”

Rundlett’s leadership – and her fastball – were on display during the Class A South championship game.

With York leading Greely by a run, Greely loaded the bases with one out. After calling the team to the pitching circle for a huddle, Rundlett threw six consecutive rising fastballs. Each was a strike and the threat was over.

“It was amazing where she found it in herself to dig down and do things like that,” said Blais. “In a high-pressure situation, to keep your composure like that, you don’t see that in many players.”

Rundlett, who plays softball for a travel team in Virginia Beach, Virgina, said last year’s playoff loss in the quarterfinals spurred her preparation for her senior season.

“I thought about it all winter,” she said. “I felt the pressure to be better than last year. And I told my dad (John) that I wanted to work as much as I could to get everything as good as we could.”

Telegram All-State team

Bri Brochu, Gardiner senior, outfielder: The KVAC Class B player of the year, Brochu was limited defensively by a shoulder injury but batted .627 with 40 stolen bases as the Tigers’ leadoff batter. She hit two home runs and scored 33 runs. Brochu will play at Husson University.

Brook Davis, Biddeford sophomore, catcher: Perhaps the most dangerous power hitter in the state, Davis finished with 11 home runs with 40 RBI and 35 runs. She batted .633 with 10 doubles and two triples, and had a 1.417 slugging percentage.

Emily Gilmore, Bangor senior, second base: A repeat all-state selection, Gilmore moved in from the outfield this year. She batted .440 with 16 RBI and 33 runs as the leadoff hitter. She also hit seven home runs and stole 19 bases. Gilmore will play at UMaine.

Chloe Griffin, Scarborough sophomore, outfielder: One of the most dangerous hitters in the SMAA, Griffin batted .547 with 35 hits, 30 runs, a school-record 35 RBI and four home runs. As a pitcher, she went 5-0 with a 0.26 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 26 innings. She did not commit an error.

Tess Haller, Cape Elizabeth senior, shortstop: A two-time all-state selection, Haller hit .500 to help the Capers to the Class B South quarterfinals. She had seven doubles, 10 RBI and 22 runs. Haller, who also played catcher, was charged with only one error.

Jen Jones, Sanford senior, pitcher: The SMAA pitcher of the year, Jones is a repeat all-state selection. She went 10-3 with a 1.92 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 88 innings, and batted .373 with 10 RBI and 15 runs. She will play at Husson University.

Aly LeBlanc, Madison senior, catcher: A repeat all-state selection, LeBlanc helped the Bulldogs win the Class C state title. She hit .508 with five home runs and 30 RBI, along with 11 doubles, and committed only one error. LeBlanc will play at Division II Augusta University in Georgia.

Maggie Murphy, Scarborough senior, third base: A two-time all-state selection, Murphy hit .712, and set school records for hits (42) and runs (39) while driving in 20 runs. She committed only two errors. She will play at Division II St. Anselm.

Kirsten Pelletier, Messalonskee senior, pitcher: The Gatorade player of the year and a repeat all-state selection, Pelletier had a 14-0-1 record with a 0.25 ERA and 185 strikeouts in 105 innings. She also batted .367 with 16 runs and 14 RBI. She will play at Bates College.

Stephanie Rundlett, York senior, pitcher: Our Player of the Year, Rundlett went 16-1 with 303 strikeouts in 119 innings, leading the Wildcats to the Class B South title. She also batted .632 with four home runs, 21 RBI and 12 runs. She will pitch at Division I Fordham University next year.

Karli Thebarge, Hermon senior, pitcher: The winner of the Miss Maine Softball Award, Thebarge was a double threat. She went 12-0 with a 0.73 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 77 innings, and batted .623 with two home runs, 33 RBI and 31 runs. She will pitch at Castleton State.

Lilly Volk, Scarborough junior, pitcher/outfielder: Already verbally committed to the University of Maine, Volk did not allow an earned run in the regular season. She ended up 9-1 with 58 strikeouts in 37 innings while hitting .429 with four home runs, 19 RBI and 15 runs.

Coach of the Year

Ray Magnant, Biddeford: In just his second year as the Tigers’ head coach, Magnant led the team to its first Class A state championship since 2006. Magnant made the necessary moves midway through the season to strengthen the infield defense and kept his players aggressive at the plate, where they scored 21 runs in their final two playoff games.

]]> 0, 09 Jul 2016 16:56:33 +0000
Baseball: Trevor DeLaite, Bangor Sun, 10 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Trevor DeLaite of Bangor likes the feeling of being in control. And there’s no better position in baseball to be in control than as a pitcher.

DeLaite was pretty good at it. He led the Rams to three consecutive Class A state championships, capping his career with a three-hit, 10-strikeout shutout in a 5-0 title-game win over Falmouth.

DeLaite was selected as the Maine Sunday Telegram Player of the Year in baseball. He also won the Gatorade Maine and John Winkin “Mr. Baseball” player of the year awards.

“Trevor would probably be the first one to say he was just a part of the whole picture,” said Bangor Coach Jeff Fahey. “We had a pretty good supporting cast. But he was certainly the engine that made us go, and not just on the mound but at the plate, too.”

DeLaite, who will pitch for the University of Maine next year, finished with a 9-1 record and a 0.30 ERA, striking out 100 batters in 68 innings and walking just 14. He lost only two games in his high school career. Batting second in the order, he also hit .352 this spring, leading the Rams with 25 hits and 19 runs, driving in 16 runs. He had one home run.

“He’s a tremendous pitcher; his mound presence is second to none,” said Falmouth Coach Kevin Winship. “He was the best pitcher we faced all year. With the velocity he has and the ability to throw that curve for strikes, he kept us off-balance. He was the difference in that game.”

DeLaite, a left-hander playing this summer for the Seacoast Mavericks, a Futures League team in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, also was an outstanding hockey player. A center, he was a finalist for the Travis Roy Award.

But there was never a doubt which sport he loved.

“I’ve always loved baseball; it’s always attracted me more,” said DeLaite. “I love the competitiveness of hockey and the speed of it, but I like the thinking of baseball, and on the mound you can control the game.”

DeLaite throws two kinds of fastballs – a four-seamer and a two-seamer – as well as a curve, slider and change-up. He’s working on a cutter now.

“With pitching, you have to compete with another person on each and every pitch, you have to out-duel them,” he said. “I love to compete. I like to have that ball in my hand and know I have to get the batter out each time.”

That drive, said Fahey, helped define DeLaite.

“Not only was he talented, but he loved baseball and worked very hard,” said Fahey. “He really worked at his craft.”

Telegram All-State team

Connor Aube, Falmouth senior, outfielder: A repeat all-state selection, Aube was one of the best all-around players in the state. He batted .500 with six doubles, a triple and eight home runs, driving in 26 runs and scoring 33. He also threw out two baserunners. Aube will next play at the University of Tennessee at Martin.

Jackson Coutts, Orono junior, catcher: The two-time PVC Class C player of the year, Coutts settled in at catcher after playing multiple positions. As the leadoff hitter, he batted .578 with two home runs, 14 RBI and 24 runs. He also stole 11 bases and was intentionally walked 18 times.

Jack Davenport, Freeport senior, pitcher/shortstop
: Davenport was a major factor in leading the Falcons to their first regional championship, in Class B South. He batted .543 with 14 runs and seven RBI, stealing 11 bases. On the mound he went 9-2 with a 0.66 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 682/3 innings.

Cam Guarino, Falmouth junior, pitcher: A left-hander, Guarino played a major role in leading the Yachtsmen to the Class A state championship game. He went 10-0 with a 0.52 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 67 innings. He walked only 12 batters, and opponents hit .132 against him.

Nick Guerrette, Hermon senior, pitcher/infielder: The PVC Class B pitcher and player of the year, Guerrette went 7-1 with a 0.57 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 49 innings, walking only seven. He batted .419 with 17 RBI and 17 runs. He will attend Husson.

Trevor DeLaite, Bangor senior, pitcher: Our Player of the Year as well as the Gatorade winner and John Winkin Award winner, DeLaite led Bangor to its third straight Class A title. He went 9-1 with a 0.30 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 68 innings, and hit .352 with team highs in hits (25) and runs (19). He will play at UMaine.

Ben Lambert, Thornton Academy senior, pitcher/outfielder: A two-time all-state selection, Lambert batted .333 with one home run, 12 runs and 14 RBI. He also went 5-1 with a 1.01 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 482/3 innings. He will play at Division II Assumption College.

Cody Lawyerson, Valley senior, pitcher/shortstop: Lawyerson lost only two games in five seasons. He went 4-1 with three saves this year, with a 0.51 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 41 innings. He also batted .500 with one home run, 20 RBI and 30 runs. He will play at the University of Maine.

Nick Mazurek, Oceanside senior, pitcher/infield: Mazurek helped the Mariners to the regional quarterfinals with his bat and arm. He batted .400 with four home runs and 19 RBI, and was walked 26 times. He went 4-1 with one save, a 0.94 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 371/3 innings. He will play at Division II Southern New Hampshire.

Ryan Sinclair, Hall-Dale senior, pitcher/shortstop: Batted .569 with 10 doubles, three triples and 31 RBI as the Bulldogs’ cleanup hitter. Struck out only three times. He went 6-4 with a 1.88 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 48 innings. He will play at Holy Cross.

Sam Troiano, South Portland junior, outfielder: The SMAA player of the year, Troiano batted .439 with 12 RBI and led the SMAA with 20 runs while going 13 of 13 on stolen-base attempts. He went 3-1 with a 2.30 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 271/3 innings.

Ryan Twitchell, Greely junior, pitcher/third base: Twitchell went 6-0 with 68 strikeouts and a 0.62 ERA in 45 innings, and batted .284 with 15 runs and eight RBI. Twitchell, who committed only two errors, is being recruited by several Division I schools.

Coach of the Year

Jeff Fahey, Bangor: Fahey has found a way to make the right moves and put together the right pitching rotation to lead the Rams to three consecutive Class A state championships, and it was no easy feat. It started early this year, with the formation of a three-man pitching rotation that helped the Rams keep their best pitchers rested for the playoffs. And it was a winning formula, again.

]]> 0, 09 Jul 2016 16:57:05 +0000
Boys’ track: Sam Rusak, Scarborough Sun, 10 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Sam Rusak’s dedication has become legendary on the Scarborough High track and field team.

After failing to clear a height in the pole vault at the 2015 Class A indoor state meet, Rusak was determined this year to excel – and to stay relaxed. As a result, the junior has started to dominate his competition.

At the Class A outdoor state meet this spring, Rusak won four events: the pole vault (a state-leading height of 15 feet, 6 inches), the 110-meter hurdles (a state-leading time of 15.01 seconds), the 200 (22.82) and the high jump (6-0). His performance lifted the Red Storm to just their second Class A title in 15 years.

Rusak’s marks in the pole vault, hurdles and 200 at the state meet were all personal bests.

“He makes everyone else better, just by watching how hard he works,” said Scarborough Coach Derek Veilleux.

Scarborough topped Falmouth for the state title by a comfortable margin, 84.5-55. Rusak’s improvement this spring made all the difference. Last year at the outdoor state meet, Rusak placed second in the pole vault and 13th – out of the scoring – in the high jump.

With Rusak’s rare feat of winning four individual events at the state meet, he is the Maine Sunday Telegram’s Athlete of the Year for boys’ track and field.

George Mendros, who has been coaching at Thornton Academy for 35 years, said Rusak is the first male to win four individual events at the Class A outdoor meet since 1979. It’s happened only four times in Class B during that period, Mendros said.

Rusak said his improvement is simply part of his long-term plan to develop into a multi-event athlete and eventually compete in the decathlon at the NCAA Division I level. He finished fourth in the decathlon at the New Balance national high school championships.

Each year, he focuses on specific skills, from his technique and strength to his speed.

“This year I was working on my speed,” Rusak said.

It showed at the Class A meet, where he improved his best time in the 200 from 23.16 to 22.82 seconds. In the hurdles, he cut his best time from 15.39 to 15.01.

Even when Rusak was losing steam toward the end of the state meet, he said he simply refocused on staying loose while competing in the high jump. He cleared 6-0 with room to spare on his first attempt. That was good enough for the title, because only two other jumpers cleared 6-0, and each had at least one miss.

“I just looked at Coach (Veilleux) before my approach and the way he looked at me he said, ‘You got this.’ I could tell by the look in his eyes,” Rusak said.

Telegram All-State team

Matt Brady, Biddeford junior: Finished second in the shot put (55-103/4) and third in the discus (154-8) at the Class A state meet. Took third in the shot put (55-41/4) and discus (156-6) at New Englands.

Dan Guiliani, South Portland senior: Maine’s all-time best shot putter with a throw of 71-11/2, he won that event at the Class A state meet (67-31/4) and finished second in the discus (164-8).

Jake Koffman, Orono junior: Defended his Class C discus title with a state-record throw of 189-9. Also captured the New England title (174-10).

Luke Laverdiere, Yarmouth sophomore: Won the 1,600 (4:21.94) and 800 (2:01.34) at the Class B state meet. Ranked No. 1 in the state in the 1,600 (4:21.47) and 3,200 (9:18.16).

Austin Lufkin, Brewer junior: Won the discus (168-4) and took fourth in the shot put (51-63/4) at the Class A state meet. Was the New England shot put champion (58-51/4) and took fourth in the discus (155-8).

Drew Nealey, Belfast senior: Won the pole vault at the Class B meet with a Class B record (14-7). Also won the 300 hurdles (41.81), and placed second in the 110 hurdles (15.57) and the javelin (159-10). Took second at the New Englands in the pole vault (13-9) and was third at the nationals in the decathlon.

Evan Porter, Traip Academy junior: Set a Class C record in the 300 hurdles (39.57) and also won the 110 hurdles (15.21) and the 100 dash (11.13). Took second at New Englands in the 300 hurdles (39.20).

Michaiah Robinson, Washington Academy junior: Won the 400 (50.13) and 200 (22.65) at the Class C state meet. Also was sixth at the New Englands in the 400 (50.03).

Sam Rusak, Scarborough junior: Won four events at the Class A state meet – the 200 (22.82), high jump (6-0), 110 hurdles (state-leading time of 15.01) and pole vault (state-leading mark of 15-6). Placed fourth at the nationals in the decathlon.

Keenan Welzel, Brunswick senior: Won the 400 (50.19) in Class A and took fifth at the New Englands (49.86) to earn All-New England honors.

Coach of the Year

Derek Veilleux, Scarborough: Led the Red Storm to a convincing 29-point victory at the Class A state meet to win just their second outdoor state title in 15 years and first since 2013.

]]> 0, 09 Jul 2016 16:58:23 +0000
Boys’ lacrosse: Curtis Knapton, Westbrook Sun, 10 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Curtis Knapton has a knack for assessing his weaknesses as a lacrosse player and working to improve.

As a young player at Westbrook High, he switched from football to cross country in the fall to enhance his cardiovascular strength and foot speed.

After playing attack for three years, Knapton felt his defensive skills weren’t up to snuff. This year as a senior midfielder, he was praised by Westbrook Coach Pete Lyons and opposing coaches as a two-way player.

Knapton didn’t think he was good enough in traffic. But his ability to catch and shoot – with either hand – while being tightly covered became a strength.

“It’s just being competitive, I guess,” Knapton said. “It comes from playing sports all my life and my parents teaching me to be as successful as I can. It’s not measured by accomplishments but by doing everything you can to be your best.”

Knapton scored 47 goals and added 25 assists as the Blue Blazes (10-4) set a school record for victories and won a playoff game for the first time.

He became the first Westbrook lacrosse player to earn All-America honors, topping the state in the voting by coaches, and was named the SMAA’s best player. Knapton is our choice as Maine Sunday Telegram Player of the Year in boys’ lacrosse.

“While gifted with physical athletic attributes, it’s Curtis’s drive and competitiveness – demonstrated both on game days and every day in practice – that fuel his success,” Lyons said. “He’s a great on-the-ball and team defender. We ran our offense through him (and) he’s a terrific decision maker.”

Knapton, who graduated 10th in his class, will continue playing lacrosse next year at Bates College.

Though he had posted two 40-plus goal seasons at attack, Knapton embraced the position switch this spring.

“I was excited because I’d get to play defense and it would open up the field for other guys. It would just maximize our potential as a team,” Knapton said.

Another key factor in Knapton’s improvement was attending Wednesday night 3-on-3 box lacrosse sessions organized by John Fay, a former All-American at the University of New Hampshire and father of 2013 Telegram Player of the Year Charlie Fay.

“It doesn’t have a name, but every good player in the area is there. You’re playing against older guys, college All-Americans who are bigger and stronger than you, in a small area,” said Knapton, a sturdy 6-foot, 190-pounder. “Being able to play well there and then coming back to 6-on-6 against guys who are not as big and strong and physical gave me confidence, for sure.”

Telegram All-State team

Matthew Beatty, Yarmouth senior, attack: A former midfielder who shifted to attack and quickly became a dual-threat player, Beatty finished with 39 goals and 58 assists in an All-American season.

Ben Ekedahl, Cape Elizabeth junior, defense: A tenacious one-on-one defender who always drew the opposing team’s top offensive threat. Ekedahl also played the wing on faceoffs, and possessed the speed and stick skills to effectively clear the ball.

Jack Fiorini, South Portland senior, midfielder: A two-time All-American, Fiorini used his hard, precise left-handed shot to score 50 goals and also dished out 30 assists. Fiorini will be a preferred walk-on at Syracuse.

Christian Glover, Brunswick junior, long-stick midfielder: The All-America pick turned a typically defensive role into a key part of the offense for the Class A North champion, with 28 goals and 13 assists.

Brendan Hickey, Falmouth sophomore, defense: Hickey handled faceoffs or played the wing on faceoffs while routinely matching up with top scoring threats. Adept with the ball, Hickey scored four goals and had an assist.

Curtis Knapton, Westbrook senior, midfielder: A strong two-way player, Knapton produced 47 goals and 25 assists. He is Westbrook’s first U.S. Lacrosse All-American and was voted player of the year in the SMAA. He will play at Bates College.

Reece Lagerquist, Scarborough sophomore, defense: Tall, strong and athletic, Lagerquist collected 67 ground balls, was poised while clearing the ball, and added two goals and four assists.

Carter Landry, Gorham junior, goalie: Keyed the Rams’ push to the Class A South final, with a .670 save percentage. He showed the ability to make tough saves look routine and was a confident passer when clearing.

Sam Neugebauer, Scarborough junior, attack: Led the multi-faceted Red Storm offense with 62 goals and 13 assists, and picked up 42 ground balls.

Noah Oliver, Westbrook senior, faceoff specialist: Oliver won 78.6 percent of his faceoffs and added 111 ground balls. He also was a top defensive midfielder who had 10 goals and 11 assists.

RJ Sarka, Cape Elizabeth senior, midfielder: A tough two-way player and an All-America pick, Sarka was the calming presence for Cape and its go-to scoring threat, finishing with 35 goals and 15 assists. He also mustered 40 ground balls. He will play at Bates College.

Jack Scribner, Falmouth junior, attack: An All-America pick, Scribner finished with 42 goals and 38 assists, including six goals and six assists in three playoff wins to pace his team to the Class B title.

Coach of the Year

Mike Lebel, Falmouth: Directed a relatively young team that improved steadily and played its best when it counted most, knocking off three-time champ Cape Elizabeth in the regional final with suffocating defense and winning the Class B title with a dominant performance against Yarmouth.

]]> 0, 09 Jul 2016 16:57:42 +0000
Girls’ lacrosse: Jenny Bush, Kennebunk Sun, 10 Jul 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Jenny Bush entered the spring recognized as the top girls’ lacrosse player in Maine after being named the state’s lone All-American a year ago.

But what the Kennebunk High senior wanted most of all was a state championship. In 2015, the Rams lost in overtime in the state title game.

With plenty of help from a deep list of talented teammates, she accomplished the goal. Kennebunk capped a 15-0 season with the Class B championship, the first girls’ lacrosse state title for the school.

Bush had 65 goals and 10 assists this spring, and was exceptionally proficient at winning the draw to gain possession. Now she can add another accolade to her resume: the Maine Sunday Telegram Player of the Year in girls’ lacrosse.

“This year we were all so invested and we all had the right mindset, and we all wanted that same goal as much as the next person,” she said.

In Kennebunk’s 9-7 championship win over Yarmouth – the school that upset the Rams in last year’s final – Bush was held to one goal. The Clippers committed a defender to limit her ability to receive a pass.

Kennebunk Coach Annie Barker said the performance showed Bush’s personal growth as well as the Rams’ faith in each other.

“Last year she thought she had to carry it,” Barker said. “With developing the team and everybody realizing that everyone would contribute, it made her job easier and the result of the state game showed it. Jenny’s job that day was to win 14 of 17 draws.”

“I like that I take the draws and can kind of be in possession with them, and I feel like this season I stepped up more on the draws,” said Bush.

Bush began playing lacrosse in the fifth grade, following older sisters Allie and Catie. Allie Bush played four seasons at Wheaton College, where she set career and single-season assist records, and Catie played one season at Endicott College. Jenny Bush will play at Assumption College, an NCAA Division II school in Worcester, Massachusetts.

“Watching Allie play kind of really got me into it and we kind of showed the same passion for lacrosse,” Bush said. “Seeing her go through the high school and seeing them come so close to a state championship, that really drove me to want to be successful and made me want to get over that hump of winning a state championship.”

Bush said the loss in the 2015 title game galvanized the Rams to commit to more intensive offseason training.

“It’s important for everyone to know how hard we worked,” Bush said. “We didn’t just walk on to the field on March 28 thinking we would win. We put in so, so much time.”

Telegram All-State team

Gretchen Barbera, Yarmouth junior, defense: Noted by coaches from both Class B and Class A, the hard-working Barbera has above-average speed and good field sense, making her tough to beat one-on-one and very strong in transition.

Sydney Bell, Falmouth junior, midfield: An intense competitor and a repeat all-state pick, Bell is a top draw specialist and a dominant goal scorer (71 goals), and this year became a skilled playmaker, finishing with 27 assists.

Jenny Bush, Kennebunk senior, attack: A three-time all-state pick, Bush was the state’s only All-American for the second straight season. She had 65 goals and 10 assists, and also won 131 draws for the unbeaten Class B champs. She will play lacrosse at Assumption College.

Hannah Costin, Marshwood junior, attack: Stepped into a larger role this season and flourished for the Class A South finalists, scoring 60 goals with 19 assists as a first-team SMAA pick.

Maquila Dimastrantonio, Massabesic senior, midfield: Tall and strong, Dimastrantonio was one of the top draw control specialists in the state and scored 67 goals with 11 assists. She will attend St. Anselm College, and intends to play lacrosse and run cross country.

Jenna Kashmer, Marshwood senior, defense: A first-team SMAA pick, Kashmer came up with 24 ground balls, 14 interceptions and 18 caused turnovers for one of the stoutest defenses in the league.

Kelsey Otley, Greely senior, midfield: An athletic two-way player, the former defender became a more assertive offensive presence, with 33 goals and six assists while playing some of her best games against top teams.

Isabelle Paulus, Morse senior, midfield: The KVAC Class B player of the year, Paulus came back from a torn ACL and was a two-way threat for the North regional finalists with 32 goals and six assists. Paulus will play at Bates College next year.

Olivia Sandford, Kennebunk senior, midfield: A repeat all-state pick, Sandford was a two-way player who had 18 goals and 25 assists. Sandford plans to play at Bates College.

Kyra Schwartzman, Kennebunk senior, attack: A repeat all-state pick, Schwartzman was also an academic All-American while scoring 43 goals and 19 assists. Schwartzman will play lacrosse at Merrimack.

Ally Turner, Messalonskee sophomore, midfield: A dynamic scorer and playmaker with speed and a fierce will, Turner led the Eagles to their first Class A championship, and finished with 64 goals and 32 assists.

Isabelle Kudas, Kennebunk senior, goalie: Kudas directed a revamped defense and allowed only 3.5 goals per game, making 79 saves and stopping 59.8 percent of shots.

Coach of the Year
Annie Barker, Kennebunk: Kept a veteran, motivated team focused and relaxed, and successfully rebuilt the Rams’ defense as Kennebunk went 15-0 and won the school’s first girls’ lacrosse championship.

]]> 0, 09 Jul 2016 16:57:49 +0000
Departing high school basketball coach criticizes players, parents Fri, 08 Jul 2016 02:55:05 +0000 Gavin Kane said Thursday his decision to step down after two years as girls’ basketball coach at Mt. Blue in Farmington involved personal reasons as well a concern about the level of player commitment – and parental involvement – in the program.

In an email to the Morning Sentinel in Waterville, Kane said he wanted to watch his daughter, Caitlin, an all-conference player at Mt. Blue entering her freshman year at Maine Maritime Academy, play basketball.

He also cited his frustration with what he sees as increasing parental involvement and player entitlement, and a lack of commitment by high school athletes.

“I simply don’t see the level of commitment to justify all of the time that my staff and I put in to coaching,” Kane said. “There are certainly a small handful of kids who work hard and understand what it means to try to have a successful program. But there are not enough to warrant the time commitment and effort we put in as a coaching staff.”

He said the problem extends below high school, noting he had to cancel a summer youth camp “because there aren’t enough younger kids who want to play.”

“It’s definitely difficult to see this trend and we realize we’re just not going to be able to make it work,” he said.

Kane, who has more than 500 wins in girls’ and boys’ basketball coaching stops that also included Rangeley, Dirigo and Spruce Mountain, sent a letter of resignation to Mt. Blue administrators earlier this week.

A 1978 Mt. Blue graduate, he compiled a 20-16 record in his two years there, reaching the Class A North quarterfinals both years. During that time he coached daughters Caitlin and Chelsea, who will be a senior in the fall, and had his son, Connor, as an assistant.

“Despite the move, I certainly don’t leave feeling sour grapes. I had a great group of kids to work with the past two years and shared some great memories,” he said. “It turned out to be really awesome having the chance to coach my two daughters. That was an unbelievable experience for this old coach. I also truly appreciate the opportunity to coach at Mt. Blue.

“The changes we see in high school sports are very discouraging,” he added. “The bottom line is that it is much more difficult to coach now as there is so much more attempted parental influence and definitely a much greater feeling of entitlement.”

Kane continued, “(We) have lost what it means to teach young people how to make a realistic commitment. And there is also such a difference in respect now. A fair number of parents don’t show the coaches respect, and the kids see that so it makes our job that much tougher.”

Kane, who played college basketball at the University of Maine at Augusta, began his varsity coaching career as the Rangeley boys’ coach in 1986. He won a Class D title in 1989.

In 1994, he was named the girls’ coach at Dirigo and led the Cougars to a 263-17 record, winning a state-record 11 consecutive regional titles (1995-2005) and six Class C state titles.

“Who knows? Maybe I will resurface again somewhere,” Kane said. “There isn’t any question in my mind that I still have the passion to coach and work with young people. If I do decide to call it a career, then I feel blessed to have coached so many great kids over the years. I have incredible memories.”

]]> 8, 08 Jul 2016 00:17:30 +0000
Sports Digest: Cheverus names Cloutier as new field hockey coach Fri, 01 Jul 2016 03:16:05 +0000 HIGH SCHOOLS

Cheverus names Cloutier as new field hockey coach

Gary Hoyt, athletic director at Cheverus High in Portland, announced that Sally Cloutier has been hired as the varsity field hockey coach.

Cloutier, a graduate of South Portland High, graduated and played college field hockey at Boston University.

She previously has served as a graduate assistant at BU and is an inductee in the Maine Field Hockey Hall of Fame.


EMPIRE LEAGUE: Shaun Cooper went 3 for 4, including a two-run homer in the second inning as the Old Orchard Beach Surge shut out the Sullivan Explorers 6-0 at Old Orchard Beach.

For the Surge, Michael Volpe went seven innings, allowing four hits and striking out 11.

Joshua Martinez and Richard Baerga each threw hitless innings in relief for the Surge.

Jacob Fabry added a pair of hits for Old Orchard.

NECBL: Nelson Mompierre crushed a grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning as the Sanford Mainers pulled away from the Newport Gulls for a 7-2 win at Goodall Park in Sanford.

The Mainers added a pair of runs in the seventh inning on an RBI double by Zach Jancarski, who later stole third base and scored on a catcher’s error.

Jancarski was 2 for 3 and scored twice for Sanford.


PGA: William McGirt opened with a 6-under 64 for a three-shot lead in the Bridgestone Invitational as he goes for another victory at Akron, Ohio.

McGirt broke through for his first PGA Tour victory last month at the Memorial. In his World Golf Championship debut, he made six birdies and finished off his round with a 45-foot par save.

Jason Day, the No. 1 player in the world, was among those at 67.

U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson had a U.S. Open kind of round – 15 pars, two birdies and a bogey – for a 69.

Jordan Spieth closed with four birdies and shot 68.

EUROPEAN TOUR: In the midst of drastic changes to his swing, Rory McIlroy shot a level-par 71 at the French Open to lie five shots off the lead held by Lucas Bjerregaard after the first round at Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines.

McIlroy had four birdies and four bogeys.


NASCAR: Denny Hamlin insists he didn’t let retiring star Tony Stewart win last week at Sonoma Raceway.

Asked about his runner-up finish at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday, Hamlin made it clear that his mistake was the main reason Stewart got by him in the final turn Sunday to break an 84-race winless streak.


MIDDLEWEIGHTS: Gennady Golovkin is closing in on a deal to defend his three title belts against Britain’s Chris Eubank Jr.

Golovkin’s promoter, Tom Loeffler, said the sides are “working on finalizing details.”

Golovkin (35-0, 32 KOs) holds the WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight title belts. The Kazakh-born power puncher has stopped 22 straight opponents since 2008, dominating his division and becoming a pound-for-pound star.


WNBA: Nneka Ogwumike had a career-high 38 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks as the Los Angeles Sparks beat the Atlanta Dream, 84-75.

Ogwumike, the league leader in field-goal percentage at 68.3 percent, was 13 of 14 from the field and 12 of 14 at the free throw line.

]]> 0 Thu, 30 Jun 2016 23:23:58 +0000
Maine Majestix preparing for return to field hockey National Club Championship Thu, 30 Jun 2016 23:46:22 +0000 July and early August are jam-packed with elite field hockey competition for Josie Varney, so the 15-year-old from Oakland plans on taking it easy over the Independence Day holiday.

Varney is headed to USA Field Hockey Junior National Camp as one of 50 players from across the country trying out for the Under-17 national team in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Her teammates with the Waterville-based Maine Majestix Under-16 field hockey team will join her in Lancaster as they return to the National Club Championships for the third year in a row on July 10-12. After that, it’s off to Houston, where she and teammates Autumn Littlefield and Maliea Kelso will be three of 128 players from around the nation competing in the Junior Olympics, August 2-6.

For now, Varney is trying to keep the whirlwind tour on the back burner.

“I tend to over-think things a little, so I’m trying to relax,” said Varney, who attends St. Paul’s School in Concord, N.H. “I play a lot of field hockey, so I’m going to take a few days and sit back and relax and hang out with my friends and family so I’m rested and ready for it.”

The Majestix have come a long way since the first week of March, according to coach Amy Bernatchez. Practices at Thomas and Colby colleges and the Alfond Youth Center included some hard-learned lessons from the Majestix U19 team. But it was great preparation for May’s New England regional for the National Club Championships.

They finished third at regionals, losing to champion North East Elite by one goal a day after beating them. Since more than half of last year’s team, which finished 11th at the 2015 Club Championships, moved up to the U19 team, Bernatchez was pleased with the outcome and prepared for a quiet summer. But then she learned the Majestix won an at-large bid to be one of the 16 teams competing in Lancaster.

“There are a lot of great teams they could give that bid to and we’re thrilled they gave it to us,” she said.

Bernatchez said the Majestix’ presence at last year’s tournament and their impressive performance at regionals, where they outscored opponents 18-4 over the two days, helped give them the inside track.

She admitted there were times early in the spring she “thought it would be a miracle” for her young team were to reach nationals. But the players’ resilience and hard work, and some lopsided scrimmages with the U19 team, paid off,

“The U19 team really challenged us every single week in practice,” she said. “I think they’re as good as any U16 we’ll see at nationals.”

Veterans such as Varney, Littlefield, of Messalonskee, and Amy Gaiero of Belfast stepped up into key leadership roles this year, Bernatchez said. New contributors called up from the U14 team such as Lexi Lewis of Lawrence scored key goals, and McKenzie McConnell of Skowhegan and Brooke Richards of Belfast filled the void in the cage when starting goalie Brooke Bolduc of Mt. Blue tore her ACL during softball season.

The veterans expect the experience and confidence gained from last year’s tournament will help them in Lancaster next week. Ranked 21st in the nation by USA Field Hockey, they also relish their role as underdogs going up against teams that play together year-round.

“We were really happy with how we finished last year,” Varney said. “It was a tremendous improvement from previous teams. We want to do even better this year. We’re really excited.”

“We know it’s going to be a challenge,” Bernatchez said. “We know we’re going to see great teams. We’re in a tough pool, but we’re ready.”

Besides the competition, another feature of the tournament is that it draws college coaches from all over the country and gives them a rare opportunity to see some of Maine’s top players in person. Those players, who watched Majestix alumni Kristy Bernatchez play in the NCAA championship for the University of North Carolina and saw former teammates such as Riley Field, Ally Corbett, Haley Lowell, Emily Hogan, Lydia Dexter and Lilla Tilton-Flood commit to Division I schools recently, value that exposure.

“Being competitive on a national stage, it’s nice to see Maine kids get those opportunities we might not otherwise get,” said Varney, a midfielder who will be a sophomore at St. Paul’s in the fall. “The youth tournaments are how you get recruited to the big colleges, so it’s really important, especially for us in Maine because we probably don’t get that exposure otherwise.”

A number of Majestix players opened eyes at the National Futures Championship in late June. The tournament brings together the top 10 percent of all players in the USA Field Hockey system.

Representing the Majestix in the U14 tournament were Annie Corbett and Chloe Tilley of Messalonskee; Littlefield, Kelso, Varney, Lizzie York of Skowhegan and Moriah Hajduk of Winthrop took part in the U16 games. Lowell and Field, of Messalonskee, and Delaney Wood of Winslow played in the U19 championships. Lowell and Varney were selected to play in the all-star game.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


]]> 0 Thu, 30 Jun 2016 19:46:22 +0000
Bangor’s DeLaite collects Winkin Award Sat, 25 Jun 2016 01:02:21 +0000 WATERVILLE — Last week, Trevor DeLaite helped Bangor High win its third consecutive Class A baseball state championship. On Friday, DeLaite earned the state’s top individual high school baseball honor, winning the Dr. John Winkin Award as Maine’s top senior.

“I wanted to come out and have a good season and give my team a chance to win another state championship. Luckily, I’ve had great teammates who have helped me get this far, and great coaches,” DeLaite said after he received the award before the Class A/B all-star game at Colby College’s Coombs Field.

“I’ve played with great players, and they’ve made me better. I’ve played with great defenses who have given me the confidence to go at hitters. I can attack hitters and people will make plays. It’s been a privilege to play on such good teams and get those bigger spotlights.”

Other finalists were Ben Lambert of Thornton Academy, Connor Aube of Falmouth, Ryan Sinclair of Hall-Dale, Nick Mazurek of Oceanside, Cody Laweryson of Valley, Nick Guerrette of Hermon, Roderick Maynard of Sacopee Valley and Thomas Spencer of Penobscot Valley.

The award is named after John Winkin, who won more than 1,000 games coaching at Colby, Maine and Husson in a career that spanned more than 50 years. Winkin died in 2014.

“I never got the privilege of meeting (Winkin), but I’ve talked to so many people that just say he was a great baseball mind, a great coach. I definitely wish I’d gotten to meet him, but it’s a privilege to be nominated for something with his name,” DeLaite said.

A left-handed pitcher, DeLaite went 9-1 this season with a 0.30 ERA.

DeLaite is the second Winkin Award winner from Bangor, and the first since Matt Kinney in 1995.

DeLaite credited Bangor assistant coach Dave Morris as a pitching influence, along with former University of Maine assistant Jason Spaulding.

“Coach Morris has helped me. He gave me the confidence to go at hitters,” DeLaite said. “I know hitters better. I can look at hitters, see their stance, the way they’re holding the bat, and know different ways I can go about attacking them.”

DeLaite will attend UMaine.

“I’m really excited. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. I’m glad I’m not ending my baseball career,” DeLaite said.

]]> 0 Fri, 24 Jun 2016 21:08:28 +0000
Hermon High player named Miss Maine Softball Thu, 23 Jun 2016 23:22:51 +0000 AUGUSTA — Karli Theberge of Hermon High has been named Miss Maine Softball.

Theberge was among nine finalists for the award, which was presented between the Class C/D and Class A/B senior all-star games Thursday night at Cony High School.

The Maine Softball Coaches Association gives the award to the top senior softball player in the state.

Theberge, a left-handed pitcher, led Hermon to a 17-1 record and the Class B North semifinals, where the Hawks lost to eventual state champion Old Town. She batted .623 and led her team with 17 extra-base hits during the regular season.

The other finalists were Aly LeBlanc of Madison, Kirsten Pelletier of Messalonskee, Emily Gilmore of Bangor, Kirsten Lebreux and Erin Martin of Biddeford, Jen Jones of Sanford, Maggie Murphy of Scarborough and Stephanie Rundlett of York.

Lebreux received the MSCA’s $500 scholarship.

]]> 0 Thu, 23 Jun 2016 21:42:32 +0000
Track and field: Falmouth’s Cooke named Gatorade athlete of year Thu, 23 Jun 2016 21:07:39 +0000 Falmouth High junior Adelaide Cooke was chosen as Gatorade’s Maine girls’ track and field athlete of the year.

Cooke won the discus (131 feet) and shot put (39-11 1/2) and placed fourth in the 100-meter hurdles (16.14 seconds) at the Class A state championships, leading Falmouth to its first state title since 1991, when it was a Class C school. She finished second in the discus (117-4) at the New England high school championships.

]]> 0 Thu, 23 Jun 2016 17:18:44 +0000
MPA: No decision on Class B hoop title site until October Thu, 23 Jun 2016 00:30:01 +0000 The Maine Principals’ Association will wait until this fall to determine where it will hold the 2017 Class B boys’ and girls’ basketball state championship games.

“We won’t be making any decision on our end until October when our basketball committee meets,” said Dick Durost, the MPA’s executive director.

The site for the 2017 Class B championship games is unknown because of a scheduling conflict at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, where the games were originally slated to be played.

The Class B championship games are traditionally played on a Friday night, which would be March 3.

The arena has booked the America East women’s basketball tournament quarterfinals and semifinals for the weekend of March 3-5, with team practices scheduled for March 3 and games on Saturday, March 4, and Sunday, March 5.

Last week Matt Herpich, the arena’s general manager, notified the MPA that it would be in the athletic organization’s best interest to seek an alternative site for its championship games.

The scenario is likely to be repeated in 2018, when the America East women’s tournament is scheduled to return to Portland.

Durost said it will be important for the MPA to look at the scheduling of championship sites as a two-year situation.

Durost said he has talked with representatives from Augusta Civic Center and Cross Insurance Center in Bangor about shifting the Class B title games to their venue this winter.

“Right now neither one is booked for that Friday night and we have that night on a bit of a reserve,” Durost said.

The Class AA and A championship games are scheduled to be played in Augusta and the Class C and D games in Bangor, all on Saturday, March 4.

Durost said having two nights of championship games in either Augusta or Bangor is the most likely scenario, leaving Portland without a title game.

“Based upon what (arena) management is saying, they feel they’re locked in to the women’s tournament but if by October they are able to work things out and say then can get us in, then that’s where we’ll be,” Durost said.

South regional tournament games in Class AA, Class A and Class B will continue to be played at the Portland Expo and Cross Insurance Arena during the February school vacation week, which is Feb. 20-25 in 2017.

The arena announced in December it would be hosting the America East tournament in both 2017 and 2018.

Herpich said he began discussing scheduling with the MPA following the completion of the 2016 high school tournament.

]]> 0 Wed, 22 Jun 2016 20:41:20 +0000
Flaherty hired as Greely girls’ basketball coach Wed, 22 Jun 2016 19:57:09 +0000 Greely High has hired Todd Flaherty as its girls’ basketball coach.

Flaherty, 52, has 18 years of experience coaching boys’ high school basketball, including five seasons as the head coach at Morse High in Bath and three at St. Dominic in Lewiston. His teams made the state tournament five times, including all three seasons at St. Dom’s (2013-15). He did not coach last season.

“I actually started thinking about possibly switching to girls a couple years ago,” said Flaherty, who lives in Phippsburg. “I was looking for a K-12 program. Greely with its reputation athletically and academically is a tremendous opportunity.”

Flaherty replaces Joel Rogers who compiled a 67-17 record in four seasons and led the Rangers to the 2015 Class B state championship and a berth in the Class A regional final in 2016. Rogers resigned in May.

Flaherty, who was hired June 14, has had two days of gym time with his new team, which returns four key scorers including Maine Sunday Telegram all-state guard Anna DeWolfe.

“I wasn’t aware of the specifics of who they had coming back or their expectations when I applied but it didn’t take long to figure out expectations are high and they should be,” Flaherty said.

Greely Athletic Director David Shapiro said Flaherty distinguished himself from a field of 15 candidates.

“He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our program,” Shapiro said.


YARMOUTH: After eight seasons as the head coach at Cheverus High, Amy Ashley will be the field hockey coach at Yarmouth in 2016. Ashley works in the Yarmouth athletic department and will continue to be the Clippers’ softball coach.

Ashley replaces Mandy Lewis, who recently took a job as an assistant principal in Wiscasset. Yarmouth announced it had hired Ashley to replace Lewis on Wednesday.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

Twitter: SteveCCraig

]]> 1 Wed, 22 Jun 2016 19:01:38 +0000
State title basketball games likely to move from Portland Mon, 20 Jun 2016 17:37:53 +0000 Portland’s Cross Insurance Arena is unlikely to host state championship games in high school basketball next winter because of a scheduling conflict.

Matt Herpich, general manager of the arena, said he sent an email to the Maine Principals’ Association last week telling the organization it should seek another site to host its Class B boys’ and girls’ state title games in 2017.

Those games will be played either March 3 or March 4. The arena is hosting America East Conference women’s basketball tournament games on March 4-5 and the league has reserved the building for team practices on March 3, according to conference spokesman Matt Bourque.

It is uncertain where or when the Class B state title games will be played, said Mike Burnham, the MPA’s assistant executive director.

“That hasn’t been determined. We will have a championship but it won’t be at the Cross Insurance (Arena),” he said.

Herpich left open the possibility that the games could be squeezed in after America East practice time on March 3. But, he told MPA officials, “It may be in (your) best interest to start seeking other options.”

The MPA has been hosting its state championship games at the state’s three largest arenas: Cross Insurance Arena, Cross Insurance Center in Bangor and the Augusta Civic Center. Next winter, the Class AA and Class A state championships games are scheduled for Augusta; Class C and Class D will be played in Bangor.

South regional tournament games in Class AA, Class A and Class B will continue to be played at the Portland Expo and Cross Insurance Arena during the February school vacation week, which is Feb. 20-25 in 2017.

Herpich said he had discussions with the MPA about the 2017 high school basketball dates when the 2016 tournament ended.

The arena announced in December 2015 that it will host the America East women’s basketball quarterfinal and semifinal games during the first weekend in March in 2017 and 2018.

The conflict between high school and college basketball could happen again in 2018. If the MPA sticks to its traditional basketball tournament schedule, it will be holding state championships the same weekend as the America East games.

Last year the 6,800-seat CIA was packed to near capacity for the AA boys’ game between Portland and South Portland after a well-attended afternoon session for the Class A games.

That next winter’s championship games would be for smaller Class B schools did not impact arena scheduling, Herpich said.

“Oh no. The class (size) doesn’t matter. It’s a community building, you host whatever’s coming,” Herpich said.

Athletic directors expressed regret that the Class B state championships are likely to be displaced from Cross Insurance Arena.

“Obviously it’s disappointing because it’s a great venue for our kids to be able to play in and it’s historic,” said Wells Athletic Director Jack Molloy.

Molloy and Lake Region Athletic Director Paul True said they felt the 2,717-seat Portland Expo would be a viable alternative for the Class B championship games.

“I can see where parking is a bit of an issue but now they clear the arena between the boys’ and girls’ games. I don’t think seating would be an issue. It’s not like it’s a Portland or a Deering that would be playing in that game where you have thousands wanting to attend,” True said.

“I think it’s important that we try to keep it in Portland and if the Expo is available that would be an option,” Molloy said. “Selfishly for our fan bases, we’re going to get more people to see us play in Portland and in terms of state basketball we need to have at least one state championship played in Portland each year.”

The location of state championship games are rotated so one region does not annually get a home-court edge.

“Anyone who has been around the game knows that hosting a state championship game at a site where you’ve played at least three games is an advantage,” said True, who also is Lake Region’s girls’ basketball coach. “So that would be unfortunate for the B South teams.”

]]> 13, 21 Jun 2016 00:02:33 +0000
Boys’ lacrosse: Scarborough returns to the top in Class A Sun, 19 Jun 2016 00:36:02 +0000 Scarborough High fired shots early, often and from multiple angles Saturday, keeping pressure on Brunswick throughout while scoring an 18-10 victory in the Class A boys’ lacrosse state final at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

Scarborough (12-3), making its first title-game appearance since 2013, when it won its fourth straight championship, got off 30 first-half shots against defending champion Brunswick (12-3), playing in the final for the third straight season.

“They have guys who can flat-out score and we knew we had to continue to push,” said Scarborough Coach Joe Hezlep. “Even at halftime (with a 10-5 lead) I didn’t feel great. I felt good but we knew we had to continue to go.”

The halftime margin easily could have been larger except for superior saves by Logan Ouellette (10 of his 16 saves in the first half).

After Jameson Cyr of Brunswick made it 2-2, the Red Storm scored four straight goals and seven of the next eight to go ahead 9-3.

Numerous Scarborough players showed they could beat their defender one-on-one. Cam Thibault scored three of his four goals in the first quarter. Sam Neugebauer and Marco Manfra each had two in the second quarter on their way to four-goal games.

“We knew that we had to really come out fast and strong, and if we came out quick we could possibly win,” Thibault said. “That was kind of the game plan. We just wanted to play like we can. We talked about wanting to get (shots) on frame as much as we could.”

Manfra was particularly effective setting up the offense from behind the net, helping to keep the ball moving crisply.

“I knew I would be getting a lot of looks, either to score or to assist on a teammate’s cut,” Manfra said. “Everybody was getting involved.”

Brunswick scored twice late in the second quarter, including a man-up score on a hard, low shot by long-stick midfielder Christian Glover, but the Storm closed the half with a fast-break rush by Cam Nigro that set up Neugebauer for the finish.

In the third quarter, Scarborough continued to beat players on dodges and get in tight for chances. Marc Guerette scored twice, Thibault got his fourth as he was falling after weaving through traffic, and freshman Andrew Granzier picked up a rebound and deposited it.

Scarborough led 15-7 after three quarters and had outshot Brunswick, 42-22. Only in the fourth quarter did the Red Storm occasionally slow the pace but they still had a huge edge in possession, finishing with a 53-26 shot advantage.

Camden Jepson, with occasional help from Cam Nigro, controlled the faceoffs for Scarborough.

“Faceoffs are key for transitions,” Jepson said. “It’s all about possession in the game of lacrosse, so if you get a lot of possessions you’re most likely going to score a lot of goals.”

Brunswick graduated 16 players from last year’s championship team and had 19 new players on its roster. Max Gramins scored three goals for Brunswick, and Cyr and Josh Dorr each scored twice.

“For us to be here today, we just took it as this is icing on the cake,” Brunswick Coach Don Glover said. “Joe (Hezlep) and Scarborough, they deserved it. They worked their butts off and they attacked and did a lot of really good stuff.”

]]> 0, 19 Jun 2016 19:06:04 +0000
Softball: Biddeford outslugs Skowhegan for Class A title Sat, 18 Jun 2016 22:25:07 +0000 STANDISH — Biddeford’s softball team has suffered several close losses in big games the last couple years.

The Tigers obviously learned some valuable lessons in those games.

Biddeford used two six-run innings to defeat Skowhegan 12-7 Saturday afternoon for the Class A state championship at Bailey Field at St. Joseph’s College. But it wasn’t easy, as the Tigers had to turn back a couple Skowhegan rallies in the late innings.

“It couldn’t have been easy,” said Biddeford Coach Ray Magnant. “It hasn’t been that type of year.”

But that made the victory – giving Biddeford its second softball state championship – even sweeter. When shortstop Grace Martin made the throw to first baseman Alex Chase for the final out, pitcher Kirsten Lebreux jumped into the arms of catcher Brook Davis as their teammates swarmed them.

“It’s an amazing feeling, just awesome,” said Chase. “We’ve been waiting for this since last year. Well, forever, actually.”

The Tigers (16-4), whose only other state championship was in 2006, lost in last year’s regional semifinals by one run to Scarborough. Then they had to get through Scarborough again this year in the regional final, a game in which the Red Storm tied the game with five runs in the bottom of the sixth, only to have the Tigers win it with two runs in the seventh.

So when Skowhegan (12-8) carved a five-run deficit to one with four runs in the top of the fifth – a two-run single by Eliza Bedard and a two-run triple by Wylie Bedard – the Tigers didn’t panic. Instead, they scored six runs in the bottom of the inning to regain control.

“Like we’ve done all year, we stayed together and we fight, fight, fight,” said Magnant. “They don’t put their heads down.”

“They’re a very good hitting team,” said Lebreux. “So I think we just tried to stay calm and not let the pressure affect us.”

Skowhegan made two of its four errors in that fifth inning and the Tigers, who sent 11 batters to the plate, were helped by a two walks and a hit batter. They loaded the bases with no outs before Skowhegan Coach Lee Johnson replaced starter Sydney Ames with Ashley Alward.

Alward got the first out, but then Chase slapped a single to right field and two runs scored. Aibhlin O’Connor knocked in a run with a fielder’s choice and another run scored on a throwing error on the play. Erin Martin then hit an RBI triple. She scored two batters later on the Indians’ second error of the inning.

“We needed to come in and shut them down that next inning,” said Johnson. “And that’s not what we did. And that changed the game around the other way. But as I told my kids, we’re a young group, and the way they fought and the character they showed today, they should be proud.”

The Indians loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth. One run came in on a fielder’s choice. After a lineout to Erin Martin at third, Sydney Reed walked to force in another run and make it 12-7, with the bases still loaded.

But Lebreux got the next out on a liner to center fielder Jocelyn Moody. Then she ended the threat with a strikeout.

Skowhegan got a runner on with one out in the seventh, but Lebreux recorded her ninth strikeout for the second out and then ended the game with a groundout.

“We’ve been thinking about this since we were nine years old, and to have it actually happen to us is the most uplifting thing,” said Chase. “I’m so proud of this team. We’ve come such a long way. It’s amazing.”

]]> 0, 18 Jun 2016 21:44:34 +0000
Softball: Old Town rallies past York for Class B title, 6-3 Sat, 18 Jun 2016 21:57:41 +0000 BREWER — York High was putting runners on base, while ace senior pitcher Stephanie Rundlett carried a perfect game through four innings.

All seemed good in the Wildcats’ world.

But York kept stranding runners and Old Town finally put together some offense. The Coyotes rallied from a three-run deficit to beat York 6-3 for the Class B softball state championship Saturday afternoon at Brewer High School.

It was the second state title in five years for Old Town (17-3). York (18-2) was making its first title game appearance in 25 years. The Wildcats have three state championships (1980, ’88 and ’89).

On Saturday, after Old Town’s first 12 batters were retired, the Coyotes began the fifth inning with four straight hits, including Kayla Hayward’s two-run double. Natalie St. Louis singled her home, and the Coyotes led 4-3.

“Just that one bad inning. One real bad, bad inning,” York Coach Mona Blais said. “I think there was a little letdown.”

Rundlett, who began the game with six strikeouts and finished with 11, could feel her pitches flattening out.

“My balls were not moving as much as they were in the first innings,” she said. “The rise wasn’t moving that well. (The balls) started coming in straight and they started hitting the ball better, and in the gaps.”

York had taken a 3-0 lead in the top of the fifth. Terra Pepin and Elise Holly led off with singles and Kiley Blondin doubled them in with a blast to right center. She eventually scored on a groundout by Rundlett, who also had three hits.

With two outs, York was still threatening with runners on first and third after a Sophia Stephens double and a Maeve Campbell single. But they were stranded after a pop-up to second.

The Wildcats had 14 base runners – 12 hits, a walk and an error – but stranded nine. Another was caught stealing, and Old Town turned a double play, with shortstop Mikayla Richard ranging to the middle for a grounder, touching second and firing to first.

“We hit some really hard balls that they made some good plays on,” Blais said. “Their shortstop up the middle made a heck of a play … It is what it is. They’re a good team.”

Still, York had that 3-0 lead.

On the first pitch in the bottom of the fifth, Caitlyn King doubled to deep left.

“My pitch, right down the middle,” King said.

That pumped life into the Coyotes.

“There was a chain reaction,” Howard said. “Everyone was ready to hit. She was pitching faster than most pitchers, but we adjusted to it.”

After Old Town went up 4-3, York threatened in the sixth when Kelsey Cole and Pepin reached with no outs. But pitcher Olivia Albert got a strikeout, a soft lineout and a groundout to end the threat.

“My defense was phenomenal,” Albert said. “I could pitch to contact and they stop everything.”

In the bottom of the sixth, Albert gave herself insurance with a home run. Another run scored on a hit and a throwing error to make it 6-3.

Rundlett led off the seventh with a single, but Albert retired the next three batters, finishing with her sixth strikeout.

]]> 0, 18 Jun 2016 21:15:01 +0000
Softball: Richmond captures fourth straight Class D crown Sat, 18 Jun 2016 21:54:33 +0000 BREWER — Led by a relentless offense and a fearless junior pitcher, Richmond won its fourth consecutive Class D softball state championship with a 15-6 victory Saturday over Stearns at Brewer High.

The Bobcats (18-0), who have won 70 consecutive games, pounded out 15 hits, with Sydney Tilton and Kalah Patterson leading the way with three hits and three RBI apiece. Meranda Martin reached base four times in the leadoff spot, scored four runs and drove in two. Caitlin Kendrick also had three hits, including a triple, and drove in two runs.

Martin picked up the win against a potent Stearns lineup that collected 12 hits. But she made the Minutemen (17-3) put the ball in play, walking one and striking out three while fielding seven chances in the circle without an error.

Cassidy McLeod went 4 for 4 with a triple and two runs for Stearns.

It is the eighth softball state championship for Richmond, which matched Madison (1994-97) as the only schools to win four straight softball titles.

“It feels great,” said Martin, whose father, Tony, took over as head coach this year after longtime coach Rick Coughlin resigned because of health concerns. “We’ve had a tough season. We’ve had a couple of people pass away in our town, and not having Rick be our coach this year. We were planning to win this game for Rick. That’s what we did.”

Richmond scored three runs in the first inning off Jessica Girsa on RBI hits by Tilton, Patterson and Kendrick, and appeared poised to run away after pushing its lead to 9-1 in the top of the third.

“They put the bat on the ball really well. I have to give them credit,” said Girsa, who stemmed the onslaught by striking out the side. “I think that I threw decent. I think I was a little bit frustrated and I put that into my pitching.”

Stearns scored four runs in the third and one in the fourth to get back into the game.

“They can definitely hit the ball and they’re a good team. It was like playing ourselves,” junior second baseman Camryn Hurley said.

Girsa helped shift momentum in Stearns’ favor by striking out the side in the fourth. She retired the first two hitters of the fifth before Martin ripped a drive to right and legged out a triple. Martin scored on Cassidy Harriman’s bobbled grounder to short to make it 11-6. She then put momentum squarely back on Richmond’s side for good by tossing her lone 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the fifth.

“When they came back and it was 9-6, I told the girls ‘You know, we’ve got to start hitting the ball again,’ ” Coach Martin said. “The girls got the bats going again.”

Tilton hit the first of her two doubles to lead off the sixth and scored on Patterson’s single to make it 12-6. The next inning the same duo clubbed back-to-back doubles, followed by Kendrick’s triple.

“We worked all season long on attacking the ball and going for that first pitch,” Tilton said. “If that first pitch is there because the pitcher is trying to get ahead, rip it.”

“We were just so prepared,” said Patterson, one of the three seniors with Kelsea Anair and Autumn Acord to end their high school softball careers with a 70-0 record. “Everyone said we had so much to lose but really we had nothing to lose. We were just relaxed. We love playing the game.”

]]> 0 Sat, 18 Jun 2016 21:14:35 +0000
Baseball: Sacopee Valley wins Class C state title Sat, 18 Jun 2016 21:54:16 +0000 STANDISH — No comebacks this time. Roderick Maynard made sure of it.

The Sacopee Valley senior struck out the side in the seventh inning to complete a 3-2 victory over George Stevens Academy in the Class C baseball state championship game Saturday afternoon at St. Joseph’s College.

Maynard’s final curveball stranded the potential tying run at second base and set off a celebration 23 years in the making.

“Best day of my life,” said Maynard, who struck out nine, yielded five hits and didn’t walk a batter. “To be under all my teammates that I’ve worked with for 10 years, that was the best feeling I’ve ever had.”

The title is the fourth in school history but the first since 1993. The score was identical to the 3-2 regional semifinal victory a week earlier over top-seeded Monmouth, a nine-inning affair in which Maynard fanned 17 and threw 138 pitches.

“I had a week off,” Maynard said. “I didn’t throw (again) until Friday. So I was feeling fresh and live and everything was strong.”

It certainly seemed so in the early going. Maynard faced the minimum 12 batters through four innings, picking off the only base runner after an infield single.

Meanwhile, the Hawks (17-3) built a 3-0 lead. Maynard drove in Sacopee’s first run with the third of three straight two-out singles in the first inning. Kyle Jordan (three hits) added an RBI single in the third to make it 2-0.

Brandon Burnell doubled to lead off the Sacopee fourth and was on third with one out when he took off for home on a ground ball with the infielders playing in to prevent a run.

” ‘No! No! No!’ sounds a lot like ‘Go! Go! Go!’ ” Burnell said. “It ends with O.”

Fortunately for Burnell, the throw sailed to the backstop and he was safe for a 3-0 lead that seemed insurmountable.

But George Stevens had scored twice in its final at-bat to beat Houlton 9-8 in the regional final, an ending similar to Sacopee Valley rallying from two down in the seventh for a 7-6 victory over Lisbon in the South final.

The Eagles (18-2) scratched out a run in the fifth on a Stefan Simmons triple, and another in the sixth on Tyler McKenney’s bloop double, a sacrifice bunt and a groundout. They lost a potential run when Simmons was hung out to dry on a failed suicide squeeze in the fifth.

“I’ve coached these guys all the way up through, from little kids in T-ball to this year here,” said Sacopee Valley Coach Eric Anderson. “So they’ve been together for a long time and played a ton of baseball. Their maturity and leadership, especially the last two weeks in the run through the playoffs, has just been tremendous.”


SEARSPORT 10, PENOBSCOT VALLEY 2: Kyle Moore scattered nine hits and singled home a pair of runs during a five-run sixth inning at Bangor’s Mansfield Stadium as the Vikings (17-3) pulled away from the Howlers (18-2) to repeat as state champions.

]]> 1 Sat, 18 Jun 2016 21:25:27 +0000
Softball: Madison regains Class C title from Bucksport Sat, 18 Jun 2016 21:48:22 +0000 STANDISH — In her first at-bat, Aly LeBlanc struck out. In her second trip to the plate, Madison’s senior catcher popped out to second base.

But LeBlanc’s third at-bat – in the sixth inning – will be remembered by everybody who saw the Class C state championship game Saturday at St. Joseph’s College.

After receiving a reprieve when Bucksport catcher Mackenzie Smith dropped a pop foul, LeBlanc drove an outside pitch to the right-field wall for a triple that drove in Madeline Wood, snapping a 1-1 tie as Madison earned its second title in three years with a 3-1 victory.

The victory capped a 20-0 season for the Bulldogs. Bucksport finished 19-2.

Wood walked to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Madison Coach Chris LeBlanc, Aly’s father, debated having Wood steal second, but with his cleanup hitter coming up decided to let the action play out.

“I just figured, if Aly’s going to hit the ball, (Wood’s) going to at least get to third, and we have the opportunity to do some bunting with her at third,” Coach LeBlanc said.

LeBlanc was unhappy with her first two plate appearances. When Smith dropped the pop-up that would have been the inning’s first out, LeBlanc knew she had been given the opportunity the Bulldogs needed.

“That was a huge sense of relief because that would have been very disappointing for me. I knew that I needed to make up for that,” she said. “I was very disappointed in myself and I knew I needed to do better for my team and just put the ball in play and move the runner around.”

LeBlanc drove an outside pitch down the line.

“I saw it go over (right fielder Kaylee Grindle) head so I was really pumped,” she said.

The play was reminiscent of the inside-the-park home run to right field hit by Wood to win the 2014 state championship.

“I just told (Aly) to relax, do what she needs to do and hit the ball. We talked to them outside before the game and just told them it doesn’t matter what you do the at-bats before. When you get up there, you’re 0-0 every time you get up to bat. It was great for her to hit that ball,” Coach LeBlanc said.

Added Bucksport Coach Michael Carrier: “Aly’s a great player and that pitch she hit was kind of sick. It was way outside and she went with it.”

LeBlanc scored easily on Erin Whalen’s sacrifice fly to left to make it 3-1. Wood, who had just commented to teammates in the dugout that a two-run cushion going into the top of the seventh would put her at ease, retired the Golden Bucks in order to set off Madison’s celebration.

“We just needed to get three quick outs. I was shaking. I was nervous,” Wood said.

Wood gave up four hits and one walk while striking out seven. Behind the plate, LeBlanc thought Wood’s best pitch was her change-up. Wood thought her fastball was the key.

“I hit my locations pretty good. My change-up was on but I think my (fastball) location is what did the job,” Wood said.

The Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third. Aishah Malloy led off with a triple and scored on a groundout to short by Kayla Bess. Malloy worked her way into the starting lineup during the season. Coach LeBlanc and his staff asked her to focus on playing strong defense in right field.

“When (Malloy) does it at the plate, it’s a bonus, and it was certainly a bonus today,” LeBlanc said.

Bucksport, the defending state champion, answered with a run in the top of the fourth. Eliza Hosford led off with an infield single and Darian Jellison followed with a bunt single. After getting two outs, Wood gave up an RBI single to Katelin Saunders. Bucksport had the go-ahead run at third base, but Wood picked up a strikeout to limit the damage to one run.

“I think her and Aly have a great rapport. As I’ve always said, you’ve got to be mentally tough to play that position, and Madeline Wood is. And we’ve got one more year with her,” Coach LeBlanc said.

Jellison had two of Bucksport’s four hits, both bunt singles. Saunders took the loss, allowing six hits and two walks while striking out five.

“(We were) a little excited. I don’t know why because of all them were here last year,” Carrier said.

]]> 0 Sat, 18 Jun 2016 21:13:03 +0000
Boys’ lacrosse: Falmouth tops Yarmouth for Class B title Sat, 18 Jun 2016 21:20:43 +0000 Falmouth took an early five-goal lead Saturday and went on to claim its first Class B boys’ lacrosse state championship in four seasons.

Louis Mainella, George Gilbert and Devin Russell each scored three goals as the Yachtsmen rolled to a 13-9 victory against Yarmouth at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

“We knew they were going to come out flying, so we knew we had to get out on them early,” said Jack Scribner, who had two goals and three assists for Falmouth. “We came out with a lot of heart, a lot of passion.”

The Yachtsmen (12-3) scored the first five goals in a four-minute span of the first quarter and Yarmouth never caught up.

The Clippers (11-5) closed within 7-5 with less than five minutes left in the first quarter but got no closer.

“We dug ourselves a hole in the first quarter,” Yarmouth Coach David Pearl said. “The game was even, after that but we just couldn’t overcome that five-goal deficit at the start.”

Falmouth, which held a 9-5 halftime lead, took a 13-6 advantage into the final quarter.

Falmouth held the Clippers scoreless for more than eight minutes at the start of the game and for a 14-minute segment of the second half.

“Ultimately we tried to take away their time and space by getting out on their hands and pressuring them,” said Falmouth defenseman Brendan Hickey.

“We know they have a very strong attack, as well as midfield. It was a challenge. (Yarmouth) played great, but we ended up prevailing in the end.”

“Our offense has been prolific, (and) you have to give (Falmouth) a lot of credit,” Pearl said.

During the Class B North tournament, the Clippers outscored their three opponents 57-9.

“I think their (long) poles played very well today,” said Pearl.

The Clippers won 20 of 26 draws but committed 24 turnovers, which enabled the Yachtsmen to regain possession following a lot of those draws.

“We focused on having fun, getting the job done and moving the ball around.” Scribner said. “We didn’t just fly into everything, but we had a patient offense and (waited) for the best look, and we scored a lot of goals.”

To advance to the state final, the Yachtsmen beat Kennebunk and previously undefeated Cape Elizabeth in the Class B South tournament. Both of those teams defeated Falmouth in the final week of the regular season.

“I called them out and they responded,” Falmouth Coach Mike Lebel said of his players. “I told them we needed to be tougher. We needed more guys to step up. We had to react differently in certain situations. They took that and they performed admirably from that point on. They have been working their tails off supporting one another and became closer as a team.”

“We got yelled at a little bit and it stuck with us,” Gilbert said.

“We knew if we bore down a little bit we could win it. We believed in our coach and we did what he said, and it worked out for us. He very much knows what he’s talking about.”

Nate Arrants scored two goals for Falmouth and Henry Norris had an assist.

Andrew Beatty scored five goals for the Clippers. Will Jacobs had a goal and an assist, Matt Beatty, Patrick Grant and Cole Buchanan also scored, and Anders Newberg had an assist.

]]> 0, 19 Jun 2016 19:11:30 +0000
Baseball: Bangor wins third straight Class A title Sat, 18 Jun 2016 19:09:11 +0000 STANDISH — In a state championship baseball game involving three of the state’s preeminent left-handed pitchers, Trevor DeLaite proved to be the portside authority.

The senior from Bangor held previously unbeaten Falmouth to three hits – all singles – as the Rams rolled to their third straight Class A title with a 5-0 win Saturday at St. Joseph’s College.

“Not many teams can say they’ve won three in a row,” said DeLaite, who committed to the University of Maine after his freshman season at Bangor. “It’s pretty cool.”

DeLaite struck out 10 and walked three as Bangor (19-1) pitched its third shutout in four playoff games. The only serious Falmouth threat came in the fourth when the Yachtsmen (19-1) loaded the bases with two outs and DeLaite fell behind in the count 3-1 before pumping two fastballs across the plate for his eighth strikeout.

“He keeps you off balance, mixes it up well, hits his spots,” said Reece Armitage, who singled in the fourth and was the only Falmouth runner to reach third.

“It’s tough not seeing him before, not seeing anyone like that this year who is similar to him, but you can’t win if you don’t score.”

Armitage pitched the first five innings for Falmouth before giving way to Cam Guarino in the sixth. Each had allowed only three earned runs all season coming into the game. Bangor managed three hits and three runs off Armitage, who walked four and struck out four, and two unearned runs and four hits off Guarino.

“I thought Reece pitched great and I thought Cam came in and pitched great,” Falmouth Coach Kevin Winship said. “We just didn’t get the big hit when we needed it.”

DeLaite collected the game’s first hit after a one-out walk in the third, a double to right-center. Derek Fournier singled home one runner, and a fielder’s choice allowed DeLaite to score.

“As soon as they scored a couple runs, I knew it was going to be tough,” Winship said. “We know that if we get either Cam or Reece a couple runs, it’s game over.”

DeLaite short-circuited a potential rally in the Falmouth third with the first of two successful pickoff throws to first. He also picked off a runner in the fifth.

“It’s a good move,” Winship said. “I don’t agree with it not being a balk … but there’s nothing you can do. It’s not our call.”

The Rams made it 3-0 in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Jesse Colford and scored twice more in the sixth on singles by Peter Kemble, George Payne and Kyle Stevenson.

“We were very confident coming in,” said Stevenson. “We always are, with whoever’s on the mound, but especially Trevor. He’s just a dominant pitcher. We trust our defense and we trust what we’re going to do at the plate.”

Garrett Aube got the first Falmouth hit with a one-out single to right in the third.

Colin Coyne had Falmouth’s other hit, a grounder past third base.

“He wasn’t perfect, but he was pretty damn good,” said Bangor Coach Jeff Fahey of DeLaite, who compiled a 24-2 high school record. “I think he was getting a little tired at the end. I think he ended up with 110 (pitches), which is the most he’s thrown all year, but it was his game. As long as he told me he felt all right, I was going to let him finish.”

]]> 0, 18 Jun 2016 21:37:15 +0000
State champs crowned in high school sports Sat, 18 Jun 2016 18:41:53 +0000 0, 18 Jun 2016 15:35:19 +0000 Girls’ lacrosse: Kennebunk caps perfect season with Class B title Sat, 18 Jun 2016 18:29:55 +0000 A championship that was years in the making came to fruition for the Kennebunk High girls’ lacrosse team.

The Rams finished a 15-0 season with a 9-7 win Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium to earn the school’s first Class B girls’ lacrosse state title, beating a gritty Yarmouth squad that was vying for a third straight crown.

“We’ve been all working together for six or seven years, and to finish like this is the best feeling I’ve ever had,” said Olivia Sandford, one of 11 Kennebunk seniors.

Sandford, Kyra Schwartzman, Jenny Bush and Carly Sandler have powered the Rams’ offense since they were freshmen, and goalie Bella Kudas is another four-year varsity player. Fellow seniors Molly Parent and Cara Small led the defensive unit, and Kristen Koch scored Kennebunk’s first goal on a fast break off a Sandford interception.

“We’re really one big happy family and we’ve been playing together forever, the seniors. It definitely helps us to play as one unit instead of 12 individual units,” Bush said. “We didn’t want to go out any other way and we knew we had to get it done.”

Bush was taken out of Kennebunk’s set offense by the effective face guarding of Yarmouth defender Gretchen Barbera.

Schwartzman led the offense with five goals.

“I thought, we need to get this done. They’re face guarding Jenny, (so) what can we do as a team to do this?” Schwartzman said. “A couple of my goals were off of feeds. An assist is just as important as a goal. I was lucky enough for them to find me.”

Sandford and Bush each scored once and Sandler had two pretty assists. Kudas made four saves, including a point-blank stop with 52 seconds left to maintain a two-goal lead.

Kennebunk scored three goals in a span of 1:37 late in the first half to take a 5-2 lead, then pushed it to 8-3 with 11:33 remaining after Schwartzman’s fifth goal of the game.

Yarmouth responded. Eva Then (four goals) scored two man-advantage goals. A couple other calls also went against Kennebunk, preventing the Rams’ highly skilled offense from running time off.

When Clipper attack Sophia Harrison scored on a fast break after a ground-ball win and quick midfield advancement by Jessica Kirk, Yarmouth had pulled to within 8-6 with 1:12 left.

Kennebunk had lost its five previous championship games, including an overtime setback to Yarmouth last season.

“Obviously we were a little nervous, but we’ve been saying, when things don’t go our way, ‘So what? Just play the next play,” Sandford said. “We’ve been working on that a lot this year and I think that’s helped us a lot.”

Sandler scored off a free-position shot with 17 seconds left to ice the win.

Then scored the final goal as time expired.

Yarmouth Coach Dorothy Holt will return most of her core players, including Then, Kirk (goal and assist), midfielders Corey Langenbach (goal) and Eliza Lunt, Barbera and goalie Mary Kate Gunville (six saves).

“This team is a young team, but they played ‘veteran’ today,” Holt said. “I asked my youngsters to step up and they did, but Kennebunk is a good team. We knew what we were up against, but we worked hard to get here and we showed that we deserved to be here.”

]]> 0, 19 Jun 2016 19:02:13 +0000
Baseball: Old Town tops Freeport for Class B title Sat, 18 Jun 2016 16:46:17 +0000 BANGOR — When Freeport High scored two runs in the top of the first inning, it looked good for the overachieving, underdog Falcons against favored Old Town.

Freeport had allowed only three runs in its last three playoff games, and the Coyotes had not scored more than three runs in any playoff game.

But Old Town broke out the bats Saturday afternoon and romped past Freeport, 12-2 in five inings, for the Class B state baseball championship at Mansfield Stadium.

Austin Sheehan’s two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the fifth inning ended the game, via the mercy rule.

Old Town (19-1), the top seed out of the North, won its first baseball championship. The Coyotes had finished runner-up twice in the 1990’s as a Class A school.

Freeport, seeded seventh out of the South, was making its first appearance in a state title game and finished 14-7.

“It was a heck of a ride,” Freeport Coach Bill Ridge said.

Colby Wagner’s RBI single and Josh Burke’s sacrifice fly gave the Falcons a 2-0 lead, firing up a large and loud Freeport contingent.

“That was real exciting,” Ridge said. “Good for our guys to have that moment. That’s what the past week has felt like.

“Then we went into the bottom of the first inning and that’s a heck of a team. That’s the best hitting team we’ve seen all year.”

Old Town put together five singles, a sacrifice fly and the first of two successful double steals, to take a 4-2 lead.

“We weren’t expecting it, to say the least,” Wagner said. “But no one was down. It just didn’t go our way.”

Old Town scored four unearned runs in the second inning, with two Freeport errors helping out, for an 8-2 lead.

The Coyotes finished with 13 hits – 12 singles and Sheehan’s double.

“We just had to re-group,” said Sheehan. “We got a couple of base hits. We capitalized on their mistakes and we went from there. We had struggled offensively (in the playoffs), but we just got the bats going.”

Sheehan finished with two hits and three RBI. Jacob Ketch also knocked in two runs. Junior pitcher Ethan Stoddard helped his cause with two RBI singles.

After giving up two walks (one intentional), a single and two runs in the first, Stoddard was rarely threatened after that.

“He didn’t look loose there in the beginning. He looked tight. He looked tense,” Old Town Coach Brad Goody said. “But he definitely settled down. He’s stepped up huge this year.”

In that first inning, Freeport’s Max Doughty worked a full-count walk to lead off. Joey Burke bunted him over to second. Jack Davenport was intentionally walked and Wagner followed with a RBI single to right. Davenport went to third, and scored on Burke’s sacrifice fly to center.

But then Old Town got going, with every player in the lineup getting a hit. Freeport used three pitchers – Josh Burke (11/3 innings), Austin Langley (11/3) and Josh Spaulding (12/3). The Falcons made four errors.

“They were spraying singles all over the place – hard-hit singles,” Ridge said. We didn’t really help ourselves, but they were hitting the ball hard.

“They were aggressive. When they got a pitch to hit, they took advantage of it.”

]]> 0, 18 Jun 2016 21:37:44 +0000
Girls’ lacrosse: Messalonskee wins Class A title in overtime Sat, 18 Jun 2016 15:51:11 +0000 Nathalie St. Pierre of Messalonskee took one shot in the Class A girls’ lacrosse championship game Saturday.

She made it count.

St. Pierre scored with 1:23 left in the first overtime, converting an alert pass from Ally Turner to beat Massabesic 7-6 at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

“I was just waiting and I didn’t want to force anything earlier in the game, and I saw the opportunity and I took it,” St. Pierre said. “I think they were honestly focusing on Ally. She was drawing them and we just made perfect eye contact at the right time.”

“I saw Nat right there and I knew she’d be there to finish. That’s her shot,” Turner said.

It was the first girls’ lacrosse state championship for Messalonskee (14-1). In 2015 the Eagles reached the state final for the first time but lost 13-5 to Marshwood after falling behind 8-1 in the first half.

Massabesic (14-2) opened with a four-goal spree in the opening minutes, with Maquila DiMastrantonio (two of her three goals), Josie Ring and Delia Sylvain scoring quickly in transition, and raising the notion of another blowout.

“It was just a tiny, fast, very fleeting second when I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, is this going to be like last year?’ ” said Messalonskee Coach Ashley Pullen, who is laving to take a job in the Falmouth district. “And then it was gone because this is a totally different team than last year. And even though we were down 4-0, it didn’t feel like 4-0. These girls never gave up. They never let down.”

Messalonskee also drew inspiration – as it has for two years – in remembering and honoring a former teammate, Cassidy Charette, who died in a hayride accident in the fall of 2014. Charette would have been a senior this year.

“We always play for Cass, shine on for Cass. She’s just always in our hearts and looking down on us,” Turner said.

Lauren Pickett scored for Messalonskee with 7:17 to play and Turner (two goals, three assists) converted a pass from Lydia Dexter (three goals, one assist) to cut the deficit to 4-2 at halftime.

Massabesic still led 6-3 with 12:09 to play after Skylar Renaud popped in a goal from Morgan Pike.

From there the Mustangs fell prey to forced offensive play that resulted in too many turnovers.

Dexter scored after catching a Turner pass that just got over Madison Drain’s outstretched stick with 8:55 remaining.

Possibly refreshed after serving a two-minute penalty, Turner rushed the ball the length of the field and scored with 4:11 left to cut the margin to 6-5. Dexter tied it with a free-position goal with 1:50 to play.

Massabesic (14-2) had three shots in the last 30 seconds of regulation, one by DiMastrantonio that hit the crossbar with a fraction of a second remaining.

“We had some opportunities,” Massabesic Coach Brooks Bowen said. “I think (DiMastrantonio’s shot) would have been in before the buzzer. I think it would have counted had it gone in.

“I think we’re going to look back and say there were a lot of woulda, coulda, shouldas that just didn’t seem to bounce our way.”

]]> 0, 18 Jun 2016 21:31:49 +0000
Yarmouth ready for title game with rival Falmouth Sat, 18 Jun 2016 00:32:15 +0000 YARMOUTH — They have flown under the radar this season all the way to a historic championship matchup.

The Yarmouth High boys’ lacrosse team (11-4) is making its fourth straight trip to the Class B championship game. After three straight state final losses to Cape Elizabeth, the Clippers will face their longtime rival, Falmouth (11-3), in a 3:30 p.m. game Saturday at Fitzpatrick Stadium.

It will be the first time Falmouth and Yarmouth have met in a state final in any sport.

“Going out against Falmouth has been kind of a dream of ours as seniors,” Yarmouth midfielder Walter Conrad said. “It’s one of the biggest rivalries in Maine sports and it’s something that’s so rare (to) see them in this game. That rivalry is going to make it so much more intense.”

Falmouth beat Cape Elizabeth 7-5 in the South final. In the process, Falmouth exorcised its own demons against the Capers. Falmouth lost three straight to Cape in regional finals.

“I knew we were skilled enough to win but the question was, can we get over that mental hurdle that has kind of been keeping us down the last three years?” Falmouth Coach Mike Lebel said. “I think this year we essentially had the same team as last year so the kids are familiar with the system and what we do, so there’s more confidence.”

Falmouth also had to battle in its regional semifinal, beating Kennebunk 10-9 after trailing 8-5 at the half. The Yachtsmen have allowed six goals in the last six quarters.

Yarmouth had an easier path through the North, beating sixth-seeded North Yarmouth Academy 19-4, 10th-ranked Gardiner 16-0 and fifth-seeded Maranacook/Winthrop, 22-5.

“The goal of our season was to get to this point,” said co-captain and rugged faceoff specialist Ricky Tillotson. “I think we all expected to be here. I don’t think anyone on our team is really surprised because of the way we work.”

The South (formerly West) winner has won six straight championships: Cape in 2010 and 2013-15, Falmouth in 2011-12. Yarmouth beat Cape Elizabeth in the 2009 game.

Earlier this season, Falmouth beat Yarmouth, 12-7.

“We’re happy to embrace the underdog role,” said Yarmouth Coach David Pearl. “Falmouth beat us on our home field. We own that but we’ve also always thought that we can win every time we step on the field.”

Yarmouth also lost early-season games to lacrosse heavyweights Cape Elizabeth and Brunswick among its first five games. The team had to overcome a number of injuries to key players. Attack Henry Venden was hurt (he’s since returned). Goalie Cameron Liddy went down and freshman Liam Harke stepped in.

“We have faced a little adversity,” said Conrad, who also played in Yarmouth’s state final appearances in the fall (a soccer win) and the winter (a hockey loss). “Losing to Cape and Falmouth in the regular season, those are defining points in a season. Our message all season has been to get back up and fight because we knew that this game might come.”

A day before another marquee game against Scarborough, Jack Venden, Henry’s brother and the team’s only returning defender, broke his foot and was lost for the season.

In that game, senior co-captain Matthew Beatty made his first start at attack. The former midfielder quickly became the fulcrum of the offense. Stationed behind the net during possessions – the “X” position in lacrosse parlance – Beatty has dished up assists to teammates such as Bill Jacobs, Patrick Grant and Cooper May, starting with his 10-assist, 3-goal game against Scarborough, a 16-11 win.

“That was a huge win for us, a turning point in our season, I think, and the coaches recognized it before the game,” Beatty said. “The emphasis was to come out hot in that game and we executed, and look where we are now.”

Before the season was finished, Beatty earned acclaim as one of the state’s All-American selections – a deserved individual honor but not what the senior co-captain wants most.

“I remember losing to Cape the last three years,” Beatty said. “Having a new opponent in the state game just really livens it up. To play Falmouth in a state game, which I don’t think has ever happened in any sport, is just huge. It’s just the Falmouth-Yarmouth rivalry. It’s friendly outside the (game) because everyone has friends from Falmouth, but on the playing field I wouldn’t say it’s very friendly.”

]]> 0, 17 Jun 2016 21:07:09 +0000
Massabesic midfielder loves being a distraction Fri, 17 Jun 2016 23:28:20 +0000 She may feature the best combination of skill and experience of any lacrosse player in the Class A state championship game Saturday.

It’s possible that senior midfielder Maquila Dimastrantonio of Massabesic won’t score a goal. But when the Mustangs play Messalonskee for the girls’ championship at 10 a.m. at Fitzpatrick Stadium, she’s likely to serve as a great distraction.

Massabesic (14-1), the second seed out of the South, is going for its third state title, its last coming two years ago. Messalonskee (13-1), the North’s top seed, is making its second straight title game appearance after losing to Marshwood 13-5 last year.

Massabesic beat top-seeded Marshwood 7-6 in the South title game Wednesday. Dimastrantonio scored the Mustangs’ first two goals and watched her teammates get the rest.

“You can’t give too much attention to one of their players,” said Marshwood Coach Bernie Marvin. “It’s like trying to take one leg out of the table. They’re 14-1. There’s a reason for that.”

Still, Marshwood did try to contain Dimastrantonio, only to see Madison Drain score four times and Josie Ring put in the winner.

“I think my job was to distract everybody and let my teammates go to work because they’re all talented,” Dimastrantonio said.

“I was surprised I had two goals. They had me marked up pretty well. … I try to pull traffic so when I cut, everyone is saying ‘She’s cutting, she’s cutting,’ and it draws (defenders) away.”

Indeed, Dimastrantonio was cutting – with defenders wary of her – when Ring saw an opening and crashed in with the winner.

“Maquila makes it possible for a lot of girls to score,” Coach Brooks Bowen said. “She has tremendous stick skills. She has good vision. When she moves her feet, she’s slippery.

“She creates opportunities for others.”

Dimastrantonio almost didn’t get an opportunity to play lacrosse. She thought about it in sixth grade but a stress fracture in her back prevented her. She gave up on the idea until high school.

After a freshman year on the junior varsity, Dimastrantonio has been a varsity player to watch. She will attend Division II St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, and plans to play lacrosse and run cross country. In last fall’s state Class A cross country meet, she finished 25th in 21 minutes, 15.65 seconds over 3.1 miles.

Dimastrantonio handles the ball well and plays like a veteran. She has one more advantage: she’s 5-foot-8 and dominant on the draws.

She’s adept at getting the ball in the air and reaching it before her opponent, or knocking it to a teammate, usually Drain. Against Marshwood, Dimastrantonio won possession in all but two of the 15 draws.

“She’s excellent,” Marvin said. “We have to get it on the ground because we’re not going to win it against that kid.”

Dimastrantonio will look to dominate the draws again Saturday. She’ll try to score, but her most effective threat may simply be her presence. Defenders cannot ignore her but other Mustangs will be ready to pounce when given the chance.

]]> 0, 17 Jun 2016 20:51:35 +0000
Falmouth baseball has a pair of aces Fri, 17 Jun 2016 23:18:32 +0000 STANDISH — Craig Pendleton, an assistant baseball coach at Falmouth High, calls pitches from his perch inside the dugout.

In five years of doing so, he can remember only one major disagreement with Coach Kevin Winship, who did not approve of a change-up thrown to the opposing team’s No. 9 hitter that resulted in a single.

The batter had fouled off multiple fastballs, Pendleton said, defending his decision. Still, Winship wasn’t buying it.

Of course, neither Cam Guarino nor Reece Armitage delivered that change-up. Falmouth’s junior lefties have a way of making Pendleton look good.

“They’ve saved a lot of arguments in the dugout,” Pendleton said with a laugh. “Even their mistake pitches are good.”

Falmouth (19-0) will meet two-time defending champion Bangor (18-1) at St. Joseph’s College at 1 p.m. Saturday for the Class A state title. It marks the first title game for Falmouth since moving up to Class A following the 2013 season. The Yachtsmen won the 2012 Class B state championship after previously winning Class C championships in 1985, 1996 and 1998.

Bangor has won 11 Class A crowns and has appeared in nine other state finals. The Rams feature senior left-hander Trevor DeLaite, the state’s Gatorade player of the year, who will pitch for the University of Maine.

“I don’t know a lot about him except that he’s good,” Winship said of DeLaite. “We’re going to have our hands full. He’s just as good as our guys.”

DeLaite (8-1) tossed a three-hitter to lead Bangor past Edward Little 8-0 Tuesday in the North regional final. Of course, three hits is the total number allowed by Guarino (10-0) and Armitage (7-0) in Falmouth’s three playoff victories over Deering, Portland and South Portland.

If Winship continues to alternate pitchers, as he has all spring, Armitage will start Saturday’s game. But Guarino, like DeLaite, is also eligible to pitch because three calendar days have elapsed since the regional finals. On Friday morning, Winship declined to name his starter.

“We have the luxury of that 1-2 punch,” he said. “To us, it really doesn’t matter who starts because they’re both available.”

Guarino and Armitage go about their business in different ways. Guarino is a nibbler, hitting his spots, changing speeds and pitching to contact.

Armitage, who also plays hockey, throws harder. He has 11 more strikeouts in 24 fewer innings than Guarino, and tops out at 85 miles per hour.

“Cam pounds his spots,” said sophomore catcher Garrett Aube. “Reece blows it by people.”

Both joined the Falmouth varsity team as freshman two years ago. Guarino was quieter, more deferential. Armitage, who was coming off a varsity hockey season, was more comfortable, more outgoing.

Both were effective immediately. Guarino went 5-0 with a 0.44 ERA. Armitage, with little run support, was 3-2 with a 1.57 ERA.

“I tell my friends that it’s coaching,” Pendleton said, “but the two of them as freshmen were just above and beyond anything I’ve seen as freshmen.”

As sophomores, Guarino was 7-2 with a 0.57 ERA, and Armitage, who pitched less because of elbow problems, was 3-1 with a 2.47 ERA.

With their continued success as juniors, both pitchers have attracted attention from college coaches.

“Every door is open to them,” Winship said. “They’re figuring what’s going to be the best fit for them at the next level.”

So who’s the better pitcher?

“Oh, that goes back to the beginning of Little League,” Guarino said. “We used to battle for the starting spot, for the No. 1 draft pick for pitching, all that stuff. But not anymore. We accept the fact that we switch off now.”

Armitage, whose twin brother, Robbie, plays shortstop, doesn’t even call it competition.

“It’s more like motivation,” he said. “It’s really helpful to have him there.”

Whoever doesn’t pitch plays right field. Having two lights-out starters, Armitage said, takes pressure off the rest of the team on defense and at the plate.

The dimensions at St. Joseph’s, which include 380 feet to dead center and 350 to right-center, make it hard for hitters to hit home runs, even if they weren’t already facing two – or three – of the state’s best pitchers.

“The disadvantage Saturday goes to hitters, for sure,” Winship said. “It’s going to come down to who plays good defense and who can get that timely, big hit and take advantage of the other team’s mistake, if they make one.”

]]> 0, 17 Jun 2016 21:18:12 +0000
Softball: Long-time Biddeford teammates eye Class A title Thu, 16 Jun 2016 23:51:42 +0000 BIDDEFORD — Many of the members of Biddeford High’s softball team have been playing together since they were nine years old. Most have been coached by Ray Magnant for that long.

They won Little League district championships. They won two Junior League state championships.

But Saturday will be a special day for them. They’ll be playing for a high school state championship. The Tigers (15-4) will play Skowhegan (12-7) for the Class A state title at 4 p.m. at St. Joseph’s College.

“Some of us have T-ball pictures together, so we’ve been together for a long time,” said Brook Davis, Biddeford’s sophomore catcher, who was named player of the year in the SMAA. “It’s very special. We played Little League looking up to those high school girls hoping that would be us some day. And it’s kind of unbelievable thinking we’re at that point in our lives where we’re going to states.

“That’s where we’ve always dreamed to be when we were younger.”

“These girls are all great friends,” said Magnant, in his second year as Biddeford’s coach. “They love the game and they have fun together.”

Biddeford, which lost in the regional semifinals in each of the three previous seasons, got here by knocking off top-ranked and previously unbeaten Scarborough 9-7 in the Class A South championship game. That game highlighted the Tigers’ strengths: aggressive hitting (15 hits), clutch pitching by Kirsten Lebreux and steady defense.

The Tigers, who last won a state title in 2006, have always been able to hit but were also hindered by defensive breakdowns.

Not this year.

“We still make mistakes at times,” said Magnant. “But we stay up. We don’t get down.”

“I think a big thing this year is that throughout the season we learned to play with each other,” said Lebreux, who will attend Bentley University next fall and will run track. “We have confidence in each other.”

In Tuesday’s regional championship, Scarborough scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game at 7. But, said senior third baseman Erin Martin, the Tigers didn’t panic.

“We just moved on to the next play,” she said.

And scored twice in the top of the seventh to win the game.

Davis is Biddeford’s most feared hitter, with a .643 average, 11 home runs and 39 RBI. Martin, who will attend USM, is hitting .549 with 26 runs. Lebreux is hitting .493 and is 14-3 as a pitcher.

As well as the Tigers have played, they are also gaining inspiration from an outside source.

Donald “Joe” Colucci, the father of Thornton Academy sophomore Louisa Colucci, died on Monday. Louisa Colucci plays summer ball with many of the Tigers on Magnant’s team and Joe Colucci was always there with her, cheering her and her teammates on.

Before the regional championship with Scarborough, the Biddeford players requested that a moment of silence be held for him. And then they dedicated the game to him.

When the game ended, said Martin, Louisa Colucci joined the celebration.

“We’re just trying to support her,” said Martin. “And she’s supporting us.”

That support transcends the Tigers’ rivalry with Thornton Academy.

“We love her, we love her family,” said Davis. “It means a lot that we did something for them. I know she plays for Thornton and we have that rivalry with them but they’re like family to us.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

]]> 0, 16 Jun 2016 21:01:50 +0000
Miss Maine Softball finalists announced Thu, 16 Jun 2016 02:18:18 +0000 Biddeford teammates Kirsten Lebreux and Erin Martin are among nine finalists for the Miss Maine Softball Award, which will be announced between the Class C-D and Class A-B Senior East-West games at Cony High School on June 23.

The other finalists are Emily Gilmore of Bangor, Aly LeBlanc of Madison, Karli Theberge of Hermon, Stephanie Rundlett of York, Maggie Murphy of Scarborough, Jen Jones of Sanford, and Kirsten Pelletier of Messalonskee.

]]> 0 Wed, 15 Jun 2016 22:52:37 +0000
Boys’ lacrosse: Brunswick returns to state title game Thu, 16 Jun 2016 00:27:46 +0000 BRUNSWICK — Top-seeded Brunswick overpowered No. 6 Windham and cruised to a 19-10 win Wednesday night in the Class A North boys’ lacrosse championship game.

It’s the third straight regional title for the Dragons, who will try to defend their state championship Saturday against Scarborough at Portland’s Fitzpatrick Stadium.

“When we started off the season, we knew we had a good group of athletes, but having 19 new names on the roster for the varsity is a pretty daunting task to overcome,” Brunswick Coach Don Glover said. “This group of young men is incredible. Their focus, their desire to get better is fantastic.

“They want to make a name for themselves. “They didn’t want to be in the shadow of last year’s team, whose accomplishments were obviously noteworthy. This group of guys came out and said ‘Let’s get better and see how far we can go up the ladder.'”

Windham (10-5) had never advanced beyond the first round of the playoffs before this year.

“It is a group of guys who have just developed chemistry over the season, and I think that’s intangibles that gets a team far,” Windham Coach Peter Small said.

Brunswick (12-2) held a 3-2 lead at the end of the first quarter, then reeled off five goals at the start of the second quarter to open a sizable lead.

Aiden Glover, a freshman, paced the Dragons with three goals and two assists. Ben Palizy, Christian Glover and Max Gramins also scored three goals apiece. Josh Dorr and Jameson Cyr each scored twice, and Josh Clark had a goal and an assist.

Ross Batchelder led the Eagles with three goals. Zack Callahan followed with two goals and four assists, Tyler Wollston had two goals and had an assist, and Zach Hough, Thomas Loukosi and Bryce Rolfe also scored.

CORRECTION: This story was updated at 11:15 a.m. on June 16 to show that Ross Batchelder led Windham with three goals.

CORRECTION: This story was updated at 5:45 p.m. on June 22 to show that Christian Glover scored three goals for Brunswick.

]]> 0 Wed, 22 Jun 2016 17:42:31 +0000
Baseball: Freeport upsets No. 1 Capers in regional final Thu, 16 Jun 2016 00:11:56 +0000 STANDISH — Jack Davenport said he and his Freeport High baseball teammates are treating every game they play these days as “just another game.”

But what the Falcons are doing is extraordinary.

Seventh-seeded Freeport won its first regional baseball championship Wednesday night, upending top-ranked Cape Elizabeth 3-1 for the Class B South title at St. Joseph’s College.

That completed a remarkable run through the playoffs, which also included wins over second-ranked York and third-seeded Greely.

“It’s special to be with these kids,” said Davenport, who drove in the first run and pitched a complete-game victory. “What we’ve done here, the crowd, the fans for Freeport, it’s just awesome. They know we can do big things and I think we know that too.”

Freeport (14-6) will play Old Town (18-1) for the state championship at 11 a.m. Saturday at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor. Cape Elizabeth finished 13-6.

Davenport allowed six hits and no walks, striking out three. He also jump-started the offense with an RBI double in the top of the first, driving in Joey Burke, who had reached on the first of four Cape Elizabeth errors.

“Coming in we knew they were planning on jumping on us early. That’s what they did the first time they played us (a 10-0 Cape win on May 4),” said Freeport Coach Bill Ridge. “We felt if we can get one in the top and put a zero in the bottom of the first, that might put them on their heels. And if we keep that lead, who knows?”

Freeport did put the Capers on their heels and took a 2-0 lead in the fourth when Joshua Burke singled with one out, went to third on a throwing error on an attempted sacrifice by Caleb Rice, then scored on a two-out infield error.

The Capers came back with an unearned run in the bottom of the fourth – Pat Macdonald scoring on an overthrow – but Freeport got that back in the top of the fifth. Max Doughty led off with a single, was sacrificed to second by Joey Burke, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on another wild pitch.

“Baseball is a funny game,” said Cape Coach Andrew Wood. “Obviously we didn’t play as well as we could, but they deserve everything they got. Good luck to them. I hope they finish it off.”

Davenport wasn’t going to lose the lead. He retired the final six batters he faced – the biggest scare a long fly by Marshall Peterson with a man on in the sixth that left fielder Caiden Shea caught on the warning track.

Davenport, fittingly, put the final touch on the win, taking a throw from first baseman Austin Langley to make the last out at first, setting off a celebration that including a long line of high-fiving with the Freeport fans gathered along the first-base fence.

“That’s the whole town of Freeport there,” said Ridge. “That’s huge. Those fans have been remarkable. It’s been the difference for us.”

]]> 0, 15 Jun 2016 21:50:03 +0000