The Cony High School softball team could play at least eight exhibition games, weather permitting, before its season opener against Edward Little in Auburn on April 20.

Because of a limit of five countable exhibition dates by the Maine Principals’ Association, many teams play two or three games on the same day. The Rams played three Saturday in Winslow against the host Black Raiders, South Portland and Messalonskee.

“It went pretty well,” Cony coach Rocky Gaslin said.

The Rams graduated a key player in Amy Jones but return just about everyone else from a team that finished 14-4 last season. With the addition of a couple of key freshmen, Cony will be one of the teams to beat in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference this season.

Freshman Alyssa Dennett played well over the weekend and is penciled in to play shortstop for Gaslin while Olivia Deeves, another freshman, is expected to play third. That may change early in the season since the Rams lost catcher Nicole Rugan on Sunday when she broke her thumb playing field hockey. She’s expected to miss four weeks.

“I feel bad,” Gaslin said of Rugan, who was a first-team KVAC all-star last spring. “She worked so hard over the winter.”

Gaslin will look at both Dennett and newcomer Allison White to catch. Should he go with Dennett, Deeves could move to shortstop. The Rams have other returning all-stars in pitcher Emily Soule and outfielder Suzannah Deeves and Elizabeth Barker. Soule looks good after a winter of working out at Frozen Ropes in South Portland.

“She looks strong, relaxed,” Gaslin said. “She’s throwing harder and more consistent.”

The Rams played Messalonskee on Tuesday and will host Lincoln on Thursday. Both games are slated for Patriots Field on the Piggery Road since their home field at the school isn’t quite ready. Saturday, they play a tripleheader at South Portland against the host Red Riots, Marshwood and Kennebunk.

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The Winthrop boys tennis team should be the favorite in the Mountain Valley Conference this season, but the Ramblers are still sorting out their doubles teams.

“We have a huge contingent of kids challenging for doubles,” Winthrop coach Wilbur Shardlow said.

The Ramblers return their top two singles players in Adam St. Pierre and Evan Arbour while junior Dan Miles has the inside track on the No. 3 spot.

“I have big expectations of (St. Pierre),” Shardlow said. “He’s put in a lot of work in the off-season.”

The Ramblers have been on their courts since the first day of practice, getting used to cold temperatures and winds they’ll see in the next few weeks. There are several ways to play the wind, depending on which way it’s blowing.

“My personal preference is to get the ball in and let the other guy deal with it,” Shardlow said.

Hitting into the wind, players can hit through the ball more, Shardlow said, while they need to hit it shorter with the wind behind them. A crosswind is the toughest to deal with but in the end there’s no substitute for experience.

“You can talk all you want to,” Shardlow said. “The biggest issue with kids playing the wind is the kids have to do it.”


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Maranacook/Winthrop is fielding a co-operative boys lacrosse team for the first time but expects to be competitive.

“Most of them have been playing on a club team put together about four years ago,” coach Jared Knowlton said.

Eighteen of the players are from Maranacook while six come from Winthrop. Knowlton said he was just a few players short of fielding a junior varsity team.

Knowlton has a coaching background in hockey and soccer but has three experienced lacrosse coaches helping him in Cam McKee, Steve Meister and Andy Brown. He added that parent Paul Giguere was instrumental in getting the program going.

The team — it has yet to decide on a mascot — has three sets of brothers, Zach and Mitch Bissette, Dan and Gabe Giguere and Jesse and Kyle Evans.

“They’re all just great players,” Knowlton said.

He also has a potent scorer in junior Luke Emery.

“I’ve been watching a lot of lacrosse and this kid has a shot like I’ve never seen,” Knowlton said. “He’s a force.”

The team practices at Maranacook and will play its home games at the Capital Area Soccer Complex in Augusta. Thursday’s opener at Lincoln has been postponed due to a wet field. The team will open next Wednesday at Mountain Valley.

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With 99 boys and girls out for Erskine track this spring, coach Chris Bennett has revamped his practice schedule in an effort to become more efficient. Bennett is one of four coaches and each has a special responsibility. Two go with the jumpers, one with the throwers and one with the distance runners.

“The four of us act as a home room teacher for each of our groups,” Bennett said. “We each get 25 kids; it makes things a lot easier.”

Bennett has even changed the way the team warms up.

“We redesigned the way we warm up and stretch,” he said. “They all need to warm up in different ways.”

Erskine’s first scheduled meet of the season, at Gardiner on Thursday, has been postponed due to a wet infield. The Eagles won’t get any competition until the Waterville Relays on April 21.

The boys should challenge Waterville for supremacy in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference. They’re led by distance runner Eben Hodgkins, 400-meter specialist Aaron Taylor and hurdler Zach Lee.

“We have some high expectations, but we’re going to take it one meet at a time,” Bennett said.

Although the girls may not challenge Waterville, Bennett expects them to have the strongest team they’re had in five years.

Last season’s 4×400 relay team, comprised of freshmen, returns intact and they have some new sprinters. Although they were seeded last in qualifying heats, the team finished fifth in the state last year.

“We probably have six or seven girls who can go under a minute, 10 seconds in the 400,” Bennett said.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

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