If the University of Maine at Farmington baseball team can win two of its eight remaining games, it will have reached double digits in victories for the first time since 2003. More importantly, UMF is 7-9 in the North Atlantic Conference and has a good shot to secure one of the league’s four playoff berths.
“If we had it to do over, we feel like we could be in an even better situation,” UMF coach Chris Bessey said. “But you can’t dwell on the past. Obviously, we control our own destiny, so that’s a good place to be.”
Through Monday’s games, UMF was in a virtual tie with Lyndon St. (8-10) and Thomas (6-8) for the third through fifth spots. New England College is in sixth place at 4-8, but the Beavers have four games with NEC this weekend. UMF’s other four games are against Thomas — a doubleheader Thursday and another one Tuesday.
Brett Wallingford has 98 career hits and is closing in on becoming the sixth player in UMF history to reach 100 hits, but he’s the only senior on the roster. Joe Sullivan is 3-1 with a 0.98 ERA in conference games, but he’s the only junior. Everyone else is sophomores and freshmen.
“The enthusiasm and the competitiveness have always been there,” said Bessey, who is in his fourth season in charge of the Beavers. “I think we’ve got a group of players who are coming to UMF to get a good education and play baseball — instead of get a good education, and then because they played baseball in high school, they decide to play baseball.”
Freshman Trevor Hisler (a Skowhegan grad) is hitting .341 overall, and right behind him are sophomores Ben Keene (.338) and Dustin McCrossin (.329). Keene also has 11 stolen bases in 12 attempts. Tom Grady, another Erskine grad, is at .301, and Mt. Blue grad Jimmy Neal is hitting .283 and leading the Beavers in on-base percentage (.418) and slugging percentage (.415).
Neal is also 2-1, 2.08 in conference games on the mound, and he and sophomore Kyle Peterson (2-2, 2.08 in the NAC) are good examples of why Bessey thinks the pitching staff has improved.
“I think we have guys who concentrate on just pitching,” Bessey said. “We’re trying to build our roster to get to that point where we have a pitching staff. I think that’s just paid off huge for us. We still have one of our starters who hits for us — Jimmy Neal — but he just DHs. I think they’d all still like to play the field, but I think they understand for our program to be consistently competitive every year, it’s a move we have to make.”
â¢ â¢ â¢
Both UMF lacrosse teams have been able to compete despite not playing a home game during the entire regular season. In fact, softball was the first UMF spring sports team to play a game on its own field —and that came Tuesday in a doubleheader against Husson.
After starting 0-4 and 1-6, the men’s lacrosse team won three in a row to end the regular season and improve to 4-4 in conference play. The men have had three “home” games — against Castleton in Bangor, against Lyndon St. in Gorham, and against Husson at Kents Hill. The Beavers won two of those games.
Athens native and Madison grad Jake Linkletter set two program records recently. Linkletter had eight goals Saturday in a win over Green Mountain to set a single-game record, and also holds the school’s single-season record with 23 goals. The Beavers are in a three-way tie for fourth place in the conference.
The UMF women also rebounded from a tough start. The Beavers were 2-7 at one point, but ended the regular season at 5-8 and are in fourth place in the NAC with a 3-3 record. In a span of four days, UMF pulled out a 9-8 victory over Husson and a 8-7 decision against Colby-Sawyer. If the Beavers can win their NAC tournament opener, they will set a program record with six wins.
UMF’s top scorers are all underclassmen: Sophomores Ayla Allen (28 goals) and Mara Balboni (24), and freshman Jaclyn Langevin (23). Balboni is an Oakland native and Messalonskee grad.
â¢ â¢ â¢
Cony High School graduate Cassie Diplock entered Tuesday night within range of two all-time school records for the St. Joseph’s College women’s lacrosse team.
Diplock had tied the school single-season record of 61 goals, and needed three goals to tie Alyssa Marchant’s career record of 203 goals. The Monks played Johnson & Wales at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference quarterfinal game.
Diplock, a senior midfielder, scored 58 goals as a sophomore and 55 as a junior. A good indication the school is interested in more than record-chasing came in a 17-1 win over Anna Maria on April 15. Diplock scored one goal and took only four shots in that game, after taking at least 10 shots in six of the previous seven games.
â¢ â¢ â¢
Extra credit: Cony grad Luke Fontaine finished the 5,000 meters in 14 minutes, 50.27 seconds for the University of Miami at this weekend’s Atlantic Coast Conference championships. Fontaine’s time is the fifth best in Hurricanes school history. … Locals took the top three spots in the men’s 1,500 meter run at Saturday State of Maine championships, held at Colby College. Bowdoin’s Sam Seekins (Erskine) was No. 1 in 15:02.96, Colby’s Jeff Hale (Waterville) finished second in 15:04.08, and the University of Southern Maine’s Briar Beede (Cony) placed third in 15:23.50. … UMF softball had a team batting average of .345 entering Tuesday’s doubleheader with Husson. Shelby Bryant (.467) and Kennadi Grover (.463) were the top hitters, followed by Cony grad Amy Jones (.442), fellow Cony grad Emily Soule (.419), and Katie Clark (.405).