BASEBALL

Blaine Cockburn proved to have icewater in his veins as a freshman. Now a junior ace, Cockburn, who has committed to playing baseball at the University of Maine, is hoping to lead Freeport back to the Class B state final. File photos.

Coach: Steve Shukie (first year)

2019 record (no 2020 season): 16-4 (Lost, 2-0, to Ellsworth in Class B state final)

Top returning players: Anthony Panciocco (Senior), Blaine Cockburn (Junior), Kempton von Glinsky-Gregoire (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 27 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 1 CAPE ELIZABETH, May 18 YARMOUTH, May 22 @ Yarmouth, May 25 GREELY

Coach’s comment: “I believe that we have a very competitive squad this year. Pitching depth appears to be very good. The junior and senior classes have been playing together forever and had a successful wooden bat season last summer. Regional championships in 2016 and 2019 have set the standard for the program and our goal is to be competing for the regional and state championships again.”

Advertisement

The Forecaster’s forecast: Freeport has established itself as a perennial contender and this year’s team could be one of the very best in Class B yet again. The Falcons have a new coach in Shukie, who has previous coaching experience at Kents Hill. He teaches at St. Dom’s and lives in Durham and is fortunate to inherit a roster that features some standout returners as well as some promising newcomers.

Cockburn is the ace. He’s committed to play at the University of Maine. As a freshman, Cockburn didn’t allow an earned run in 13.2 innings as a closer, only permitted one hit and struck out 25 while earning five saves. Cockburn will be an ace this season and will play at first base or in the outfield when he’s not on the mound. Panciocco, a Western Maine Conference second-team all-star in 2019, went 4-1 with a 2.80 earned run average as a sophomore. Senior Elias Thomas, junior Nathan Abbott and sophomore Zane Aguiar will also see time on the hill. Von Glinsky-Gregoire, who started as a freshman, is back behind the plate. He swings a potent bat and is clutch, as evidenced by his game-winning RBI in the 2019 Class B South Final. Panciocco, who plays shortstop when he’s not pitching, can also swing the bat, hitting .397 with 14 runs scored and 23 runs driven in two years ago. Senior Caden Benedict brings speed and power.
The Falcons will be tested in a deep and talented Class B South, but they’ll be up for the challenge. Look for Freeport to continue its recent success and if it can stay healthy, it will be on the short list of title favorites when the postseason begins. This could be the year that the Falcons go all the way and finish the job.
SOFTBALL

Coach: Jason Daniel (sixth year)

2019 record (no 2020 season): 5-10-1 (no playoffs)

Top returning players: Jaclyn Burke (Junior), Brooke Pawlowski (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 21 GRAY-NG, April 22 @ Gray-NG, May 18 YARMOUTH, May 22 @ Yarmouth, May 25 GREELY

Coach’s comment: “It’s great to be out there. We get to use our new field for the first time. We don’t have any seniors starting, so we’re young and inexperienced. Ava (Gervais) will make the pitches. We have to make plays behind her. Our top six hitters should be very strong. We want to play good softball, work together and figure it out. If we could go .500, I’d really love that.”

Advertisement

The Forecaster’s forecast: Freeport made some nice strides in 2019, but its momentum ended with last season being cancelled. The Falcons, who finally get to play on their new field on campus, do have some returning talent and a strong freshman class that provides optimism for future success.

Sophomore Ava Gervais will be the top pitcher this season. Already named a captain, Gervais will be critical to Freeport’s success. Pawlowski will also see time on the hill, as well as in the outfield. Freshman Amanda Panciocco is the catcher. She may also see some time at shortstsop. Burke has experience and will play first base. Freshman Rosie Panenka, who has already made a name for herself this school year in soccer and ice hockey, will play third and figures to be a top hitter. Freshman Norah Albertini is at second base and classmate Isabella Plante plays centerfield.

There’s potential is there, but it might take some time for the younger kids to get up to varsity speed. Freeport should be competitive with just about everyone on the schedule and by season’s end, will be a team that no one will want to face.

BOYS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Kevin Woods (first year)

2019 record (no 2020 season): 8-6 (Lost, 15-9, to eventual champion North Yarmouth Academy in Class C state quarterfinals)

Advertisement

Top returning players: Justin Cogswell (Senior), Danny Casale (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 24 YORK, April 27 @ Greely, May 4 @ Waynflete, May 11 YARMOUTH, May 14 @ Cheverus, May 21 @ Brunswick, May 27 @ NYA, June 2 GREELY

Coach’s comment: “It’s a good group. We’re really excited. It’s a young team, so we’ll see what we can put together as the season progresses. We have a lot of good athletes. I think we can come out and surprise some teams. We have high expectations.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: It’s a new era for Freeport’s boys’ lacrosse program, as Geoff Arris has departed after a long stint to coach at Deering and Woods steps in. Woods has an impressive lacrosse resume. He’s a native of one of the sport’s hotbeds, Long Island, New York, and started playing at the age of five. He was a member of the top-ranked high school team in the country and won a pair of state titles, then was a three-year starter at St. Andrews University in North Carolina and played in the Division II Final Four. Woods has previously coached middle school and high school select teams in Missouri, at North Carolina Wesleyan College as a volunteer goalie coach and locally in community programs. He inherits a squad that is poised to compete.

The Falcons don’t have a lot of varsity experience, but Cogswell, a captain, will anchor the defense and Casale, a captain, will lead the way in the midfield. Freeport’s goalie this season will be junior Adam Clough. Several untested players will have an opportunity to step in and grab starting roles in the days to come.

The Falcons have a lot of growing to do, but Woods is excited about what he has to work with. Look for this team to show steady improvement and to be a tough out come playoff time. The future for the program is very bright.

Advertisement

GIRLS’ LACROSSE

Senior Rianna Tomm will be a top defender this season for Freeport’s talented girls’ lacrosse team. 

Coach: Marcia Wood (sixth year, 34-34 overall)

2019 record (no 2020 season): 8-5 (Lost, 17-16, in overtime, to North Yarmouth Academy in Class C state quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Ainsley Decker (Senior), Meredith Feller (Senior), Hannah Groves (Senior), Rianna Tomm (Senior), Megan Driscoll (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 27 @ NYA, May 1 @ Lake Region, May 12 ST. DOM’S, May 15 CAPE ELIZABETH, May 19 WAYNFLETE, May 26 @ St. Dom’s, May 28 @ Greely, June 1 YARMOUTH

Coach’s comment: “It’s great to be outside, but we have a lot to catch up on. We have the ability. We have to stay healthy and stay focused. Our scoring should be spread around. I expect that we’ll go deep into the playoffs this year.”

Advertisement

The Forecaster’s forecast: After loudly knocking at the championship door the past couple seasons, Freeport is poised to kick it in this spring. The Falcons have a talented roster, which includes several players with experience, and they are hungry to prove that they’re the top team in Class C. Freeport couldn’t have asked for a better start to its season, downing visiting Lake Region, 13-8, in Thursday’s opener.

This year’s offense will be led by Feller, who scored four times against the Lakers. Driscoll (two goals in the opener), Groves, juniors Savannah Tracy and Ellie Whittier and sophomore Kate Tracy (three goals on Opening Day) will also be heard from. On defense, Tomm, a captain, and Decker lead the way. Junior Riley Simon is new to varsity and will help that unit as well. Sophomore Piper Williams, who made 10 saves in the opener, is in goal.

The Falcons have a daunting schedule, especially at the end of the season, but that will make them battle tested for the postseason. While there are several strong teams in Class C this season, Freeport has what it takes to be the best of them all. It should be a memorable season for this group.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: Matthew Greear (seventh year)

2019 record (no 2020 season): 

Advertisement

(Boys) Tie-16th @ Class B state meet
(Girls) 12th @ Class B state meet

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Nate Davis (Senior), Martin Horne (Senior)

(Girls) Shaina Curry (Senior), Gracie Morse (Senior), Rylee Lyons (Junior), Emily Pagnano (Junior), Emmie Riendeau (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “We’re excited to be back on the track this year. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to compete and improve. The coaches have observed a lot of potential in freshman and sophomore classes in practice, but we haven’t seen anyone compete in meets yet. Losing last year’s season was very difficult for the Class of 2020 and our underclassmen missed the chance to learn and grow through a season. We are really looking forward to getting back out there and competing.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Freeport is excited for the season and for good reason, as both the boys’ and girls’ squads boast many fine athletes.

Advertisement

The boys will be led by Horne, who was fourth in the mile and seventh in the 800 at the Class B state meet as a sophomore. He’s a top distance runner, along with Davis. Sophomore Henry Horne will step in and be a factor in the longer races as well. Look for senior Cam Strong and sophomore Alex Graiver to be top sprinters, junior Elias Anderson to score in the jumps and throws and freshman Enoch Bodreu to be heard from in the pole vault. The Falcons could wind up in the top 10 at states if all goes well.

On the girls’ side, Riendeau returns from a 1,600 relay team that was seventh at the state meet two years ago. She’ll be a top sprinter, along with Curry and Morse. Curry (fourth in the high jump in 2019) could be one of the league’s best jumpers. Throwers to watch include Lyons and Pagnano, who also is a jumper. Sophomore Lucy Bradford will compete in the pole vault. Like the boys, the Falcons girls should more than hold their own in the regular season and make a run at the top 10 at states.

BOYS’ TENNIS

Coach: Jay Harper (20th year)

2019 record (no 2020 season): 12-2 (Lost, 3-2, to eventual state champion Yarmouth in Class B South Final)

Top returning players: T.J. Whelan (Senior), Alek Giddeon (Junior), Gage King (Junior), Andrew Morrissey (Junior)

Advertisement

Coach’s comment: “It’s great to be back and it’s still sad to think of what these players missed. We have a lot of depth, but lack the number one that we had for the last four or five years. This is probably the best top nine players I’ve ever had. We have great players and will look to use doubles as our best way to win. We could see a lot of different players in singles because we are very close in talent. We have an awesome junior class that didn’t get a lot of playing time as freshmen, so this will be their first opportunity to shine. We look to be competitive and peak at the right time of the season.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Freeport has come agonizingly close to its first state championship the past two seasons and while there are a lot of new faces this spring, expect the Falcons to be among the very best in Class B South again.

At press time, Harper was leaning Whelan (a Western Maine Conference all-star two years ago) at first singles, freshman Teo Steverlynk-Horne at No. 2 singles and Morrissey in the third singles spot, although that was subject to change. Giddeon and King will either see some time at singles, or play doubles.

Freeport wants to take that last step and win it all and if this group develops as hoped, that’s a realistic goal. There are some other very tough teams in Class B South, but the Falcons feel they can go toe-to-toe with any of them.

GIRLS’ TENNIS

Coach: Chris Kelly (first year)

Advertisement

2019 record (no 2020 season): 5-8 (Lost, 5-0, to Lincoln Academy in Class B South preliminary round)

Top returning player: Leah Rusiecki (Senior)

Coach’s comment: “We are a young team, full of newcomers, including a half dozen freshman. This year’s goal will be to emphasize fundamentals, gain match play experience and realize individual and team potential.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Freeport is a young team this season, one that will gain experience and confidence each time it takes the court.

Rusiecki will play first singles. Freshmen Eliza Mellon and Natalie Unfricht will be in the other singles spots. Junior Katlyn Mosier and sophomore Maria McLaughlin made up the first doubles tandem.

This will be a season of growth for the Falcons and one that will pay big dividends in the program’s success down the road.

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

Comments are not available on this story.