April 29, 2013

High School Notebook: Scarborough's well-positioned with Wessel

From staff reports

Sam Wessel of Scarborough was a first baseman last year, but was moved to catcher this season after the graduation of Connor McCann.

Wessel has fit right into his new position.

"Sam has blown us away with how well he's played," said first-year coach Ryan Jones.

"He's solid behind the plate, has a strong arm and handles our pitchers well," he said.

Pitchers Ben Greenberg and Jayme Lappin have made Wessel's transition easier. Greenberg has pitched a two-hitter and a three-hitter. Lappin has pitched a one-hitter. The Red Storm beat Bonny Eagle 7-3 on Saturday to improve to 4-0. Lappin pitched five shutout innings and struck out nine.

Against Westbrook last Thursday, Wessel showed he can do it on the offensive end as well: He had a pair of two-run singles in Scarborough's 7-0 win.

The Red Storm have started fast in defense of their Western Maine Class A title. Strong pitching, solid defense and timely defense have a way of cushioning graduation losses.

Western Maine Class A is wide open this season.

Scarborough and Cheverus have gotten off to the best starts with 4-0 records.

THORNTON ACADEMY senior Jeff Gelinas was recruited by the University of Maine as a pitcher. But performances like Thursday's against South Portland suggest Gelinas needs to pack his bats before departing for Orono.

In his first three at-bats, he lined a home run to left-center, calmly went with an outside off-speed pitch for a solid single to center and then turned on a change-up to muscle out a second homer.

"He hit two change-ups for homers. We didn't want to give him a fastball," South Portland Coach Mike Owens said.

Thornton Coach Ray Petit knows his star is a frightening sight in the batter's box.

"I pitch batting practice to that kid every day and I fear for my life behind that little screen. He hits balls sometimes off the dirt and they go out of here by 10 or 15 feet," Petit said.

THE SEMIFINALS and finals of the MPA tennis state singles tournament -- traditionally held on Memorial Day -- will instead be held on Wednesday, May 29, at Bates College in Lewiston.

Finding court time at Bates or Colby that didn't conflict with graduation or reunion weekends proved problematic enough to cause the change.

ANOTHER CHALLENGE proving problematic in local tennis circles -- not that other coaches are shedding tears over his plight -- is the conundrum facing Cape Elizabeth boys Coach Andy Strout. He has six players with a legitimate shot at reaching the final 16 of the state singles tournament, if not beyond.

Although he can present all of their names -- seniors Matt Gilman, Satchel McCarthy, Sam Sherman, junior Peter Higgins, sophomore Luke Gilman and freshman Mike Mills -- at the tournament seeding meeting, Strout can enter only three.

Higgins, who formerly played at Cheverus and at boarding school, and Mills are both new to the program.

Last year, Cape reached the regional finals with a singles lineup of Matt Gilman, McCarthy and either Sherman or Luke Gilman.

"It was a little different," McCarthy said of playing doubles Friday in a 4-1 victory over two-time defending Class B state champion Falmouth.

"I've played some doubles throughout the year, though, with Matt in some tournaments so I know how to play it. But I haven't played doubles in a high school match since freshman year, so it was a little weird."

FALMOUTH TENNIS Coach Bob McCully, whose team is moving to Class A next year, said the school is likely to keep a Western Maine Conference schedule.

The enrollment increase that bumped Falmouth up in classification may be only a bubble, he said, so the school's athletic teams may return to Class B after two years in Class A.

-- Staff Writers Tom Chard, Steve Craig and Glenn Jordan contributed to this report.

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