Cony baseball coach Don Plourde has a little more depth this season than he anticipated. The Rams return nine players from a team that finished 11-5 in Eastern Maine Class A last season, but graduated ace Zack Lachance who allowed just three earned runs last season.
That void may be filled by a pair of seniors — Mitchell Bonenfant and Payton Kennison — who weren’t on the roster last season. Bonenfant took a couple of years off from baseball while Kennison transferred from Spruce Mountain where he was one of the team’s top pitchers last season. Coupled with seniors Charlie Hallak, Casey Bancroft and John Jensen and junior Thomas Foster, Plourde has plenty of options.
“How it all shakes out it’s hard to tell right now,” Plourde said, “but I think we have a lot of pitching depth.”
Plourde has only seen Bonenfant and Kennison throw in the gym, but said both have live arms.
“We’re bringing him along slowly,” Plourde said of Bonenfant. “He’s had a pretty good spring. We’re going to give him an opportunity.”
The Rams have one of the top catchers in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference in junior Tayler Carrier and several others who can play the infield or outfield.
“I think we’re pretty deep as far as having versatility with guys who can play multiple positions,” Plourde said.
Cony had 32 players try out for the varsity and junior varsity teams this spring. Former varsity coach Dennis Dacus will coach the junior varsity team this spring while last year’s JV coach, Mark Tardiff, will assist Plourde along with Jake Albert.
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The condition of fields in the area varies greatly from school to school. Plourde is wondering if Morton Field in Augusta will be ready for the team’s season opener against Mt.Blue on April 23 while Maranacook coach Eric Brown said he thought it would be at least two weeks before his Black Bears got on their field.
“Our field is completely white,” Brown said Monday. “You can’t see any grass at all.”
An outdoor scrimmage between Cony and Maranacook scheduled for Thursday was canceled, but the teams still met, albeit in the gym.
“We’ll have guys throw live in the cage,” Plourde said. “We’re trying to do the best we can with what we have.”
Kents Hill has an artificial turf field but has yet to get on it.
“It’s about half cleared,” Kents Hill coach Luke Wamboldt said. “We’re hoping to play our first game on Saturday when we host New Hampton.”
Fields at Erskine and Oak Hill are in good shape and should be ready soon.
“We’re lucky,” first-year Erskine coach Mark Bailey said. “We sit on probably the best gravel pit in the state.”
Erskine is scheduled to host Gardiner in its season opener on April 23.
Oak Hill’s field is in similar condition for the same reason.
“The field is built on a gravel quarry,” Coach Matt Bray said.
Cony’s softball field is in relatively good shape and should be ready when the Rams host Gardiner in an exhibition game April 18.
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Richmond’s baseball field won’t see much action this season. The Bobcats are only scheduled to play five home games. The Bobcats play in the far-flung East-West Conference and open their season with a doubleheader April 26 on Vinalhaven Island.
“This is my year to travel,” Richmond coach Ryan Gardner said.
In addition to playing at Vinalhaven, the Bobcats travel to Greenville, Bingham and Jackman for doubleheaders this season.
“There’s some bus miles,” Gardner said.
The number of teams in Western Maine Class D this season increased by three with the addition of Wiscasset, North Yarmouth Academy and Searsport. Those teams will each maintain their schedules which include mostly Class C teams.
“If they make the playoffs, they’ll have played better competition than we have,” Gardner said. “So you better be ready.”
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The Winthrop baseball team will play without junior pitcher Matt Sekerak, who is recovering from a knee injury he sustained during the basketball season. Sekerak was also the team’s leading hitter last season.
“You can’t replace him,” Winthrop coach Marc Fortin said.
The good news for the Ramblers is they return nearly everyone else from last season’s 12-3 team and have added several talented freshmen.
“Twenty-three went out,” Fortin said. “We will have a JV team.”
Among the freshmen, three are pitchers, giving the Ramblers a strong staff when coupled with senior Jared Hanson and junior Ben Allen. They’re expected to contend for top honors in the Mountain Valley Conference but so are Dirigo, St. Dominic, Monmouth and Hall-Dale.
“It’s going to be a good year for the MVC,” Fortin said. “I think on any given day, depending on who’s throwing…”