First-year head coaches face plenty of challenges, some unforeseen, as they prepare their teams to open a new season.

For new Maranacook baseball coach Eric Brown, the challenges are magnified as he leads the program without any assistants.

“It’s presented a lot of challenges,” he acknowledged. “I’d like to be further along than we are, and I think we would be if I had some help.”

Brown will coach the varsity and junior varsity squads by himself this spring. He had 24 players come out.

“The junior varsity will play their games on Saturday so it won’t interfere with the varsity,” said Brown, who was an assistant at Maranacook the last two seasons. “I’ll take 18 with me to a varsity game so essentially six freshmen will stay back on road games. For home games, we’ll have everyone come down and hit in the cage and do some throwing, but the focus will be on the varsity.”

So why no assistants?

“Nobody in the area is available,” Brown added. “I put out a search but it’s a matter of nobody is around to do it.”

Brown will coach from the third base box when the Black Bears are at the plate. A parent or player will act as first base coach.

Maranacook opens the season Wednesday against Morse. The Bears had both their preseason games rained out.

“It’s tough because the guys haven’t seen live game action,” Brown said. “We try to simulate stuff in practice but it’s not the same thing.”

• • •

The Gardiner boys lacrosse team features a deep team that should contend for Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference and Class B championships this spring.

That doesn’t mean there weren’t a few holes for coach K.C. Johnson to fill this preseason.

“I had one position at each middie line that was open for a new guy to come in,” Johnson said. “We also had to figure out our crease attack spots, too.”

Adrian Heath and Skylar McMillan earned starting spots in the midfield while Alex Nadeau will see more time on the attack.

“Heath was more of a third line defensive middie last year and he’s slotting into more of an offensive role this year,” Johnson said. McMillan saw little varsity time but he protects the ball well. We’ll look for a lot of growth out of these guys.”

The Tigers were slated to open the season Friday but inclement weather postponed it to today.
“It’s all right,” Johnson said. “It’s good to be hungry. Right off the bat this week, we’ll know where we’ll be.”

The Tigers play Maranacook/Winthrop on Tuesday and rival Morse on Thursday.

• • •

Hall-Dale girls tennis coach Guy Cousins says he tries to emphasize what’s next for the team instead of looking back.

What’s next for the Bulldogs is what they hope will be another run at the Mountain Valley Conference championship.

The Bulldogs are the two-time defending conference champs.

“Those seasons are great for filling the back of a sweatshirt,” Cousins said, “but we need to keep looking ahead. We want to build on what we’ve done.”

The Bulldogs won’t open the season until April 22, which gives Cousins time to settle his top seven.
The team has four singles players vying for three spots, although Clio Barr will open at No. 1.
Nicole Pelletier, Shelby McGibney and Maura Stottler are in the mix as well.

“We have lots of good, friendly competition,” Cousins said. “We have five people vying for two doubles teams as well.”

• • •

Richmond softball coach Rick Coughlin had the luxury last season of utilizing a pair of aces in Leandra Martin and Jamie Plummer. Although Martin was the go-to starter, Coughlin had comfort knowing Plummer could produce when called upon.

Things changed for the three-time defending Western D champ Bobcats this spring. With Martin graduated, Plummer will pitch the bulk of innings this spring.

“Hopefully, we can get by some of the teams in a 5-inning game,” Coughlin said. “But we’ll lean on Jamie a lot. We also can pitch Ciarra Lancaster if we have to. She throws hard, but she hasn’t pitched in awhile.”

With Plummer on the mound, Coughlin also had to find a new first baseman. He hopes Kelsie Obi will fill that role.

• • •

It’s been a rough spring for the Messalonskee softball team, which has yet to practice on its field.

“Oh, yes, it’s definitely been frustrating,” Messalonskee coach Leo Bouchard said. “We’ve been stuck in a gym all spring. You can’t take them outside in the parking lot. You can’t bounce balls to them. So we are stuck being confined with four walls.”

The softball field, which sits in a basin of sorts, is still holding water. The school had to postpone one junior varsity game on the field.

“It’s been a cold spring and nothing is drying up well,” Bouchard said. “We’re hoping the JV’s can get a game out there Wednesday, but who knows.”

The Eagles, who are expected to contend in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A, open the season Wednesday at Edward Little in Auburn. The home opener isn’t until April 22 against Lawrence.

“It’s tough because you really can’t do game situations inside,” Bouchard said. “You are stuck with what you have and you have to make due with what you have. It is what it is. We were at the mercy of melting snow.”