The Winslow High School baseball team is 7-0, thanks in large part to an offense that has dominated pitching over the first half of the season.
“They just happened to find the fat part of the bat a few times,” Winslow coach Jesse Lacasse said. “I really knew right from the start they’d hit well and be aggressive.”
The Black Raiders are averaging more than 10 runs per game, and have scored at least 10 runs in four consecutive games. Lacasse said he doesn’t know his team’s batting average (“and if I did, I wouldn’t say,” he said), choosing to focus on results rather than stats.
Lacasse said he has a deep team, and that’s help foster a friendly competition among the Black Raiders. Players know that if they slump, there’s somebody ready to step into the lineup.
“I have 11 guys I could put in the lineup on any given day,” Lacasse said. “That keeps the competitiveness up, and that’s great for me.”
Winslow has a tough stretch of games coming up, beginning with a rematch with rival Waterville on Monday. When they played on April 19, Winslow took a 17-11 win from the Panthers (5-1). The Black Raiders also host Gardiner (4-2) and Lincoln Academy (4-2) next week.
When Winslow faced Waterville the first time, Lacasse pitched senior Don Camp. When Winslow beat Gardiner 5-3 earlier this season, sophomore Dylan Hapworth took the mound. This time, Lacasse expects to change things up, with Hapworth facing Waterville and Camp pitching against Gardiner.
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For a little while Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, the Skowhegan baseball team was in first place in the Eastern Class A Heal point standings. After a few more games were reported, the Indians slid to second place, just behind the Hampden team it knocked from the unbeaten ranks Tuesday with a 5-4 win.
No matter where the Indians are in the standings, they know there’s a lot of baseball to be played this season, and they’re eager to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
“Guys are starting to believe and are not letting up,” Skowhegan coach Rick York said.
The Indians won just two games in 2011, and improved to 6-10 last season. Skowhegan is 5-2 this season, and the improvement shown so far is just a progression of better play York saw over the second half of the 2012 season.
“A year makes a big difference,” York said. “They want to win, they want to sell out and do what it takes.”
A key has been pitching. Skowhegan’s top two starters, Taylor Bacon and Chad Carroll, are pitching deep into games. The Indians also have played strong defense. An example came in the third inning of Monday’s 2-1 win over Lawrence. Shortstop John Swett went deep in the hole towards third base to snag a ground ball hit by J.J. Bushaw, then fired a perfect strike to Chase Nelson at first base for the out.
“Most high school shortstops don’t get to that ball, much less make the throw,” York said.
Wins over Hampden and Bangor, two of the favorites in Eastern Class A, will help keep the Indians in the mix for at least a home game in the first round of the playoffs. York wants to see continued improvement from his team.
“We’re making a statement, but there’s still a long ways to go,” York said.
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Lawrence has improved since going 1-15 last season, but the Bulldogs have yet to turn that improvement into wins. The Bulldogs have come close, though. Each of the last four losses have been by one run.
“As a coach, I’m happy with where we’re at,” Lawrence coach Rusty Mercier said. “We’re going to get the breaks eventually.”
The Bullodgs pitching and defense has improved, Mercier said. Now the Bulldogs need to come up with timely hitting, and a little luck. For instance, with the bases loaded and one out on the fifth inning of Monday’s game at Skowhegan, J.T. Nutting hit a hard line drive. Had the ball gone a few feet in either direction, the Bulldogs likely would have scored at least two runs. Instead, the ball was hit right at Skowhegan first baseman Chase Nelson, who then stepped on the bag for an inning ending double play.
“In situations when we have the opportunity to score runs, we’ve got to execute,” Mercier said. “We’re keeping ourselves together as a group. I really think once we win one, we’ll win a few in a row.”
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The Maine High School Baseball Coaches Association announced the dates and places for postseason all-star games this week. The MEBCA was taken over by The EDGE Academy Baseball Softball and Training Center (formerly Frozen Ropes) this past January and continues to organize the three all-star games.
The Maine vs. New Hampshire Senior All-Star game will be held at the University of Southern Maine on June 17. This is the sixth year in the series — Maine leads 3-2 — which features the best 18 senior players from each state.
The Maine Underclass Showcase game will be played at St. Joseph’s College on June 18. This the eighth year for the game which features the top 40 players in Maine who play varsity ball in grades 9-11. As many as 60 college coaches and professional scouts have attended these games in the past.
The Maine Senior All-Star game will be played at the University of Maine on June 23. The game highlights the top 48 senior players in the state and is broken up between East and West teams. Mr. Maine Baseball will be named at this game.
Staff Writer Gary Hawkins contributed to this report
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242