Blaine Cockburn of Freeport delivers a pitch during the Class B South championship game in 2021. Cockburn is off to a strong start to the 2022 season, pitching a no-hitter on Monday. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

There were two no-hitters thrown in the Western Maine Conference on Monday – one by a pitcher expected to dominate in the conference, and one who could be one of the league’s top newcomers.

Freeport’s Blaine Cockburn was an error from a perfect game in the Falcons’ 5-inning 10-0 win over Wells. Cockburn, who will pitch for the University of Maine next year, struck out 11 and walked none.

In Naples, Yarmouth’s Liam Hickey was dominant in a 15-0 win over Lake Region, striking out seven with one walk. It was the first varsity start for Hickey, said Yarmouth Coach Marc Halsted.

“He was just dealing,” Halsted said of Hickey, a junior. “He’s a fastball-curveball guy, and he mixed in a change-up. He stuck to his bread and butter.”

The Clippers graduated 106 of the 116 varsity innings thrown last season, and Halsted said he knew Hickey would be a key pitcher this season.

“He pitched well in the preseason, but to go out and throw a no-hitter in his first start is pretty spectacular,” Halsted said.

Advertisement

Freeport’s Cockburn entered the season as one of the conference’s top returning pitchers, along with Greely’s Zach Johnston, who committed to Wake Forest. As a junior, Cockburn went 5-1 with a 0.85 ERA, allowing just 10 hits in 33 innings with 70 strikeouts.

In his first start this season, a 3-2 loss to Mt. Ararat last Thursday, Cockburn struggled in the first inning. He allowed a hit and walked three before settling down. On Monday, Cockburn was on top of his game from the first hitter he faced, said Freeport Coach Steve Shukie.

“(Cockburn’s) stuff’s been electric. He didn’t get a whiff of trouble. They were way behind on his fastball, and his slider was on,” Shukie said.

This season, Cockburn has added a change-up to his pitching arsenal, Shukie said. It’s a pitch that could help him get college hitters out next year.

“When (the change-up) is at its best, it’s as tough as any pitch I’ve seen a high school pitcher throw. It just dives away from righties,” Shukie said. “We know how good he can be. He’s no secret for us. That was as good as I’ve seen him.”

WHEN YORK SOFTBALL Coach Kevin Giannino saw sophomore McKayla Kortes playing center for the Wildcats basketball team in the Class B South tournament in February, he immediately started thinking of what Kortes could do this season on the diamond.

Advertisement

“Over the summer, she just got bigger and stronger. She’s pushing 6-feet now,” Giannino said. “I said, ‘Oh boy, this is going to be fun.’ ”

Already one of the top players in the Western Maine Conference as a freshman last season, Kortes lived up to Giannino’s expectations in York’s first two games this spring.

In an 8-1 season-opening win last week at Morse, Kortes threw a one-hitter, striking out 11, and had three hits, including a double. In Monday’s 18-11 slugfest win over defending Class B state champion Cape Elizabeth, Kortes was even better. She hit a pair of line-drive home runs, drove in six runs and got the win in relief to help York improve to 2-0.

Both home runs were no-doubt shots, Giannino said, and he estimated each went approximately 250 feet.

“The ball comes off her bat with tremendous speed. As soon as they left the bat, you knew they were gone,” Giannino said.

As a freshman last season, Kortes hit .580, with 14 doubles, a pair of triples, two home runs and 27 RBI. As a pitcher, Kortes led the Wildcats with seven wins.

Beating Cape Elizabeth was an early-season confidence boost for the Wildcats, who lost a pair of games to the Capers last season, Giannino said. York and Cape Elizabeth are scheduled to play again on May 25 in York, the next-to-last game of the regular season for the Wildcats.

“Don’t let me kid you. We had these two games circled on our schedule,” Giannino said.

Next up for York is a game against rival Wells on Wednesday afternoon. After that, the Wildcats host Fryeburg Academy. It will be the first game between York and Fryeburg since they met in the 2019 Class B South regional final, won by York, 3-2.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.