Junior defenseman Jakob Bernheisel and his Greely boys’ lacrosse teammates almost won a Class B state title in 2018, falling in overtime of the state game to Brunswick. This spring, the Rangers hope to finish the job.

File photos.

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BASEBALL

Coach: Derek Soule (20th year, 269-85-2 overall record, four state championships)

2018 record: 12-7 (Lost, 8-3, to Wells in Class B South Final)

Top returning players: Joe Cimino (Senior), Will Lyden (Senior), Will Neleski (Senior), Aiden Smith (Senior), Connor Sullivan (Senior), Jacob Whiting (Senior), Nick Butler (Junior), Jake MacDonald (Junior), Harry McFarland (Junior), Brady Nolin (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 22 @ Cape Elizabeth, April 24 @ Yarmouth, April 26 GRAY-NG, April 29 @ York, May 1 @ Freeport, May 13 YARMOUTH, May 20 WELLS, May 24 CAPE ELIZABETH, May 29 @ Wells

Coach’s comment: “With all three starting pitchers back and our starting catcher, we expect to be competitive. Our goal is to continue to improve and make the playoffs.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Greely enjoyed yet another deep playoff run a year ago and the Rangers have the ingredients to finish what last year’s team started and get back to the big stage. Greely opened with a 9-2 win over Fryeburg Academy in the season opener Friday.

Greely’s success always begins on the mound and that will be the case again in 2019, as the Rangers return Neleski (3-3, 2.80 earned run average in 45 innings last season when was named Greely’s Spring Male Athlete of the Year), Sullivan (4-1, 2.41 ERA in 32 innings) and Whiting (4-1, 1.27 ERA in 33 innings). Nolin and new juniors Ben Rosenthal and Nolan Shardlow will also see time on the hill in the weeks to come. Smith returns behind the plate after catching 19 games last season. Offensively, Neleski, who plays first base when he isn’t pitching, is coming off a season which saw him hit .458 with 27 hits and 12 RBI. He’ll cause opposing pitchers and coaches to lose sleep again. Other bats to watch include the shortstop, Butler (.348, 24 hits, 15 runs scored in 2018, and four RBI on Opening Day), Nolin (.357), who will be in the outfield when he doesn’t pitch, Cimino (.300), who plays first base and serves as the designated hitter, and MacDonald (.318), the hockey standout, who plays the outfield and will DH. Lyden (second base) is a top defensive player. McFarland can play the infield and outfield. Newcomers to watch include junior outfielder Jesse Clark, junior first baseman/outfielder Ricky Walker and freshman catcher Ryan Kolben.

Greely is in a very challenging region, full of traditional rivals who always play their best against the Rangers, but it will be up for the challenge. This program always improves dramatically from early April to June and that figures to be the case again this season. Nothing will come easily, but don’t be surprised if Greely finds itself one of the last teams standing again. Perhaps the last team.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Rob Hale (fifth year, 52-24 overall record)

2018 record: 13-8 (Lost, 1-0, to Brewer in Class B state final)

Top returning players: Taylor LaFlamme (Senior), Anna Smith (Senior), Sawyer Dusch (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 22 @ Cape Elizabeth, April 24 @ Yarmouth, April 29 @ York, May 6 FRYEBURG, May 13 YARMOUTH, May 24 CAPE ELIZABETH

Coach’s comment: “We’re a team of questions. We’ll be replacing our all-everything, Kelsey Currier, and our rock behind the plate, Maddie Rawnsley. Kelsey and Maddie played all of the innings in those positions for three years, so no matter who we pick, they will be complete rookies. There will be growing pains. Hopefully we can find a way to make the playoffs and be playing our best softball in June. We may be a year away from making noise.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: One year after falling a run short of what would have been a joyous and improbable state championship, Greely returns with a lot of new faces, but the Rangers can’t be ruled out, even though the loss of Currier’s transcendence on the mound looms as a huge void.

Junior Audrey Labbe will take over on the mound. Junior Audrey Boyle will see time on the hill as well. Sophomore Lindsay Eisenhart will likely replace Rawnsley behind the plate. Dusch (a first-team league all-star in 2018) and Smith anchor the middle infield. LaFlamme will be in centerfield. That group will all help pace the offense as well.

There will definitely be a big learning curve in the weeks to come (the Rangers lost, 18-11, at Wells in Thursday’s opener), but Hale always has this team ready to win and when Greely isn’t expected to contend, it’s at its most dangerous. Look for the Rangers to extend their postseason streak to 21 years and be a team no one wants to face with their season on the line.

BOYS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Mike Storey (eighth year, 52-40 overall record)

2018 record: 11-4 (Lost, 14-13, in OT, to Brunswick in Class B state final)

Top returning players: Peter Lattanzi (Senior), Will Schumacher (Senior), Jackson Williams (Senior), Cameron Aromando (Junior), Jakob Bernheisel (Junior), Malcolm Bourgeois (Junior), Henry Clapp (Junior), Silas Cunningham (Junior), Ethan Fraser (Junior), Sawyer Gagnon (Junior), Drew Lawrence (Junior), Schuyler Wetmore (Junior), Keegan Wilson (Junior), Chase Cornwall (Sophomore), Chris Williams (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 23 WAYNFLETE, May 7 CAPE ELIZABETH, May 11 BRUNSWICK, May 27 YARMOUTH, May 30 @ Cape Elizabeth

Coach’s comment: “We have a good, solid team. The guys are excited. We’re turning the page from last year to putting together a new team and setting goals and moving forward. We were a year ahead of schedule last year and we return the majority of that team. We’re set up well to hopefully contend.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Greely enjoyed arguably the finest season in program annals a year ago, gaining a mountain of confidence with a come-from-behind overtime win at perennial power Brunswick in the regular season, then rolling all the way to the state final for the first time in the Maine Principals’ Association-sanctioned era before losing an epic overtime heartbreaker to Brunswick on the season’s final Saturday. The Rangers have what it takes to get back to Fitzpatrick Stadium and reverse last year’s result, but it won’t come easily, even with a star-studded lineup.

Wetmore, a first-team league all-star in 2018, is back to help jump-start the potentially prolific offense. Lawrence (a second-team all-star last season) also plays up top, along with Lattanzi, senior Austin Loveless and sophomore D.J. Kinney. Greely has a lot of talent and depth in the midfield. Jackson Williams (the school’s Winter Male Athlete of the Year and a first-team all-star last spring) will take faceoffs and be involved all over the field. He’s joined by Clapp, Cornwall, Fraser, Schumacher and Chris Williams. Gagnon returns in goal and is supported by a solid defensive crew, which features Aromando, Bernheisel, Bourgeois, Cunningham and Wilson.

The Rangers figure to be in a hotly contested battle with Brunswick and Yarmouth again this spring. For Greely to take that final step, it needs to stay focused throughout, get contributions from everyone and be at its best in June. Don’t be surprised if that’s just how things play out.

GIRLS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Becca Koelker (seventh year, 42-37 overall record)

2018 record: 9-5 (Lost, 9-8, to eventual state champion Cape Elizabeth in Class B state semifinals)

Top returning players: Jill Cass (Senior), Brooke Clement (Senior), Jayme Morrison (Senior), Maddy Perfetti (Senior), Madi Scott (Senior), Ellie Holt (Junior), Hannah Perfetti (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 20 KENNEBUNK, May 1 @ Waynflete, May 15 FREEPORT, May 24 LAKE REGION, May 28 YARMOUTH, May 30 @ Cape Elizabeth

Coach’s comment: “Coming into the season, the girls are very motivated by the success we had last year and we’re hungry to maintain it this year. We have a good sophomore class that just needs varsity experience. We have some big shoes to fill since Courtney Sullivan did so much. If we can fill those shoes, we have a shot at making a playoff run.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Greely nearly got to write the feel-good story of the Class B tournament last spring, but the Rangers fell one goal shy against Cape Elizabeth in the semifinals and the Capers went on to upset Yarmouth in the state final. This spring, despite some tough losses to graduation, Greely is poised to ascend to the pinnacle as it boasts a nice mixture of returning talent and promising newcomers. The Rangers started the year Thursday with an impressive 14-7 win over North Yarmouth Academy.

Clement was a first-team league all-star in 2018. She’ll be a top scoring threat up top, along with Morrison (who had four goals Opening Day). Sophomore Elsa Dean-Muncie (five goals against the Panthers) will also be a key attacker. In the midfield, Holt, sophomore Sam Goldburg (who will take draws) and sophomore Haley Vaccarello will prove tough to contend with. Scott was an all-star on defense last season. She’s back and is joined by Maddy Perfetti, Cass and sophomore Abby Taylor in front of returning goalie Hannah Perfetti.

The Rangers are battle-tested after many close games a year ago and that should work in their favor, since they’ll likely be pushed on multiple occasions again this spring. By June, Greely will be ready to make another playoff run and this time, don’t be surprised if Fitzpatrick Stadium is the final destination.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: David Dowling (first year)

2018 results:

(Boys) tie-6th @ Class B state meet

(Girls) Class B state champions

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Luke Marsanskis (Senior), Isaac Moore (Senior), Bryan Taylor (Senior), Matthew Todd (Senior), Riley Franklin (Junior), Atticus Smith (Junior), Sam Wilson (Sophomore)

(Girls) Julia Curran (Senior), Maggie McCormick (Senior), Carolyn Todd (Senior), Marin Provencher (Junior),

Coach’s comment: “The boys hope to improve on their sixth-place finish of a year ago. While deep in distance points, our sprints and hurdles need bolstering. The girls hope to finish in the top three, but face strong competition from Brewer and York.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Greely expects to remain near the front of the pack this spring as Dowling, the school’s very successful longtime cross country coach, as well as distance track coach of 22 years, replaces the retired John Folan.

The girls will be in the mix for another title, even though a lot of last year’s state meet points graduated. The Rangers will be very strong in the distance, as Todd (runner-up in both the mile and two-mile last season) and Provencher (third in both the mile and two-mile) return. Curran has the potential to join them near the top of the standings. Freshman Abbie Irish is a newcomer who could step right in and make a name for herself. On the field side, McCormick (third in the pole vault in 2018) leads the way. If Greely can develop some points in the other events, another championship isn’t out of the question.

On the boys’ side, distance will also be a strength, as Marsanskis (runner-up in the two-mile and seventh in the mile last season) and Todd (third in the mile) return. They’re joined by Franklin and Wilson. Smith (fourth in the 800) and Moore hope to score in the sprints and middle distance. Taylor will contend in the pole vault. The Rangers have the potential to be very tough in the regular season and have a top-five finish at states.

BOYS’ TENNIS

Coach: Tom Hurley (first year)

2018 record: 2-10 (no playoffs)

Top returning players: Carson Bell (Sophomore), Zach Wright (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “We are a very young team made up of 18 players, of which 15 are freshmen or sophomores. We play a very tough schedule. The team’s expectation is that we will be very competitive with anyone we play this season.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Greely has missed the playoffs eight of the past nine seasons, but the Rangers are hoping to build a contender this spring under Hurley, who served as Bert Kendall’s assistant the past couple years.

Wright was a second-team league all-star a year ago despite being hindered with injuries. He’s healthy this spring and will be a top singles player. Bell is another returner who projects to play a big role. Senior Lars Boddie (likely a doubles player), fresh off helping Greely’s boys’ basketball team capture another championship in the winter, freshman Leif Boddie (who will play first singles) and freshman Peter Rinehart (doubles) are newcomers of note.

The Rangers will show steady improvement this spring and despite a daunting schedule, have the pieces in place to win enough matches to make it to the playoffs. That would be a great beginning for a program on the rise.

GIRLS’ TENNIS

Coach: Ben Caswell (seventh year, three state championships)

2018 results: 13-1 (Lost, 3-2, to Cape Elizabeth in Class B South semifinals)

Top returning players: Jordan Bryant (Senior), Katy Ray (Senior), Kaitlyn Thompson (Senior), Paige Evans (Junior), Kristin Kendall (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “We might not have the high end talent we’ve had in years past, but we are a very deep team. The girls are pushing each other to be better and seem to enjoy coming to practice. Most of our team from last year has returned and are very eager to get back out on the courts. Our goal this year is to finish toward the top of the standings and hopefully make some noise in the playoffs. We know there are very strong teams in Class B this year and if we want to be the best, we need to play consistently from start to finish. We came up a little short last year and our girls are using that as motivation.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Greely’s perfect season and quest for another championship were dashed by Cape Elizabeth in last year’s semifinal round of the playoffs and this year’s squad will be fueled by a desire to get back to the postseason and finish the job. The Rangers certainly have enough talent to make that happen.

Evans will be in the top singles spot. Bryant (second singles) and Thompson (third singles) also have ample experience. Kendall (a league all-star last year) and Ray will make up the first doubles team. The second tandem was up for grabs at press time.

Greely will have plenty of challenges during the regular season, but a daunting schedule will pay off come late May and early June. Nothing will come easily, but the Rangers have what it takes to produce a happier ending this time around.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Senior Will Neleski will be an ace pitcher and top hitter for Greely’s always-competitive baseball team this spring.

Senior Aiden Smith is back as Greely’s catcher.

Junior Schuyler Wetmore is a top scoring threat for Greely’s potent boys’ lacrosse team.

Senior Jayme Morrison and her Greely girls’ lacrosse teammates have high hopes for the 2019 season.

Junior Ellie Holt is a midfielder to watch for Greely.

Sophomore Sam Goldburg is a draw specialist and midfielder for the Rangers.

Sophomore Hannah Perfetti is back for a second season in goal for the Rangers.

Senior Luke Marsanskis is a top distance runner and should do big things for Greely’s boys’ outdoor track team in the weeks to come.

Senior Carolyn Todd is one of the state’s best distance runners. She and her Greely girls’ outdoor track teammates are looking for another strong season this spring.

Junior Maggie Provencher is another top returning distance runner for the Rangers.