The Lisbon baseball team celebrates after it won the Class C state championship over Orono last season in Bangor. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

After defeating Orono in the Class C state title game last spring, it didn’t take long for the Lisbon baseball team to shift its focus to the 2020 season. 

The Greyhounds lost just two starters, Lucas Francis and Noah Austin, and their young core was ready to pick up where they left off and make another run at states.

“You can’t aim any lower,” senior Levi Levesque said. “That was our goal. We set our standards so high for ourselves. You can’t aim any lower to repeat that kind of year. We set high expectations because we want to be at that level all the time.”

However, it turned out to a season of ‘what ifs’ as the Maine Principals’ Association canceled the spring sports season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lisbon’s three seniors — DJ Douglass, Jack Tibbetts and Levesque — missed out on one last chance to go for gold. 

The three had successful senior years in other sports during the year. 

The Lisbon baseball team won the Class C title last season, and were poised for another big spring this year – before the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancelation of the season. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Douglass scored his 1,000th point of his basketball career this winter, Levesque won a state title in football and Tibbetts won his 100th wrestling match. These milestones helped ease the frustration with no spring sports season. 

“Basketball has always been my favorite and up until last year I didn’t even love baseball,” Douglass said. “But last year changed everything. Once I hit 1,000 points it was incredible, that was my goal since fifth grade. Having a good basketball season really helped me because I ended on a good note.”

“It lessened the blow,” Levesque added. “Obviously we were all looking forward to the baseball season because we established we were the best. This was my first year playing football and it was quite the journey. I learned a lot and the stereotype in football is not how it seems. I got closer to a lot of the guys and it helped make a more intimate experience in baseball because in football you are laying your life on the line for your guys.”

But the goal for Lisbon’s seniors since June 15 of 2019 was to get back to the title game. Immediately after the winter season finished, the team was working out together, preparing for another run. 

The seniors had played together since t-ball and had helped bring along the underclassmen last spring to help create a winning atmosphere in the team.

“We all were a really close group,” Douglass said. “Last year we got so close so after when we were able to start working out for baseball, we did. We have a pitching machine and  batting cage in the gym so we would be in the gym for three hours a day after school working every day.”

As the winter turned to spring,  the coronavirus that ravaged Europe and China was making its way to the United States. 

Players started to slowly realize what was happening and started to prepare for the possibility of not having a season. 

“I had expected it since Day 1,” Tibbetts said. “I saw how it was taking off in other countries so I had mentally prepared for the worst but I was trying to be real about it even though it was a huge let down. I tried to look at some positives. We won states last year, we left it all on the field. If we would have lost or came up short it would have been different.”

STANDISH, ME – MAY 12: Lisbon High School players celebrate the last out over Sacopee Valley High School on Wednesday June 12, 2019 in Standish.Staff photo by Andy Molloy Staff photo by Andy Molloy

For coach Randy Ridley, his seniors meant the world to him. 

Ridley has known Tibbetts, Douglass and Levesque since they were in kindergarten. 

“What those three mean to me is beyond words,” Ridley said. “Being a teacher in the town I’ve known them since they were in kindergarten. Watching them grow up and succeed… They are wonderful young men and the three of them are going to do very well at the next level and I am excited. Those three, whenever I bump into them at a sporting event the first thing we talk about is the spring season. They give you ideas and thoughts and I want to hear that from my players… Words can’t express what they meant to me as students and players.”

Douglass is going to Husson University in the fall and will try out for the basketball team, while Levesque is heading to the University of Maine at Orono. Tibbetts is taking online classes before he joins the Air Force once the pandemic allows it. 

“I’m going to miss them big time, like all my guys that end up leaving,” Ridley said. “They have a lot of heart.”

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: