While many teams have seen a decline in power with the use of the new BBCOR bats or wooden bats this season, the Winslow High School baseball team is hitting as well as it has in years.

First-year coach Jesse LaCasse said he’s trying to get his Black Raiders to be aggressive and selective at the plate. That means, when you see the pitch you want, attack it.

“Don’t swing at his pitch,” LaCasse, a former hitting star at St. Joseph’s College, said. “Swing at yours.”

The approach is working. In its last three games, Winslow scored a total of 40 runs. Since an opening day loss to Waterville, the Black Raiders have won five games in a row and have averaged 11 runs per game during the streak.

“We’re definitely hitting the ball hard,” LaCasse said.

A majority of the team is swinging wooden bats made by LaCasse himself, and the Black Raiders haven’t seen their slugging numbers drop. Freshman Dylan Hapworth hit a pair of home runs in last Friday’s 12-9 win over Leaviitt, each with a wooden bat. The players quickly adjusted to the smaller sweet spot that comes with a wooden bat as opposed to metal, and that’s been key, LaCasse said. The Black Raiders have only broken seven or eight bats, LaCasse said, most coming early in the season as the hitters got used to them.

“With metal bats, you could swing at anything and get a hit,” LaCasse said. “As soon as the guys figured out what to swing at, we stopped breaking them… Most of them just love the idea of their coach bringing new bats every game.”

In Monday’s 15-3 win over Oceanside, Hapworth added two doubles, while Mackenzie Michaud tripled and Donald Camp doubled. Michaud hit two doubles in the Leavitt win.

Today, the Black Raiders face Gardiner, their first opponent with a winning record since Waterville.

“It will be our biggest game since (Waterville). We need to get on their pitchers early,” LaCasse said. “Our nerves were high at that Waterville game. We’re a lot more confident hitting now.”

* * *

Mt. Abram is starting games slowly, and coach Lee Nile thinks he knows why.

“We’re a young team. That’s what happens. That’s been our story this year,” Nile said following Wednesday’s 7-5 loss at Madison.

The loss was like others for the Roadrunners (0-4 heading into Thursday’s game against Wiscasset). Madison scored six runs in the first three innings, and Mt. Abram had to claw back into the game in the later frames.

“St. Dom’s, we gave them six runs in the first two innings,” Nile said. “Telstar the other day, we gave them four runs in the first inning and lost 9-4. It’s what we’ve done all year.”

The Roadrunners had just two seniors — third baseman Josh Beedy and second baseman Trent Rosenberg — in the starting lineup at Madison. The inexperienced players just need to learn to focus right from the first inning. When they do that, the Roadrunners will start winning some games, Nile said.

“When they figure it out, we can run with anyone. We know it. Those innings just seem to snowball on us. We’ll get there,” Nile said. “I haven’t seen a team I don’t think we can beat.”

* * *

Madison is 3-3 and in seventh place in Western Maine Class C. The Bulldogs improved from two wins in 2010 to five last season, and appear poised to make a playoff run this year.

A big reason has been a lineup that’s getting contributions from top to bottom, particularly the top five.

Coach Scott Franzose has a pair of freshmen at the top of the order. Centerfielder Derek LeBlanc leads off, with rightfielder Cody Soucier in the two hole. On Wednesday against Mt. Abram, LeBlanc got on base three times in four trips to the plate, scoring a pair of runs.

“They hit the ball hard, they put it in play. Really, one through five, they’re consistent with the bats,” Franzose said.

The three through five combination of Rhett McKenney, Garrett Emery and Stephen Cusson went 4 for 9 against Mt. Abram, scoring three runs and driving in two. No. 6 hitter Travis Emerson got in on the offense, too, going 2 for 3 with three runs batted in.

Seven and eight hitters Dustin West and Logan Cowan each scored a run, and nine hitter Stephen Day had a pair of singles.

“We’re getting reps, we’re starting to hit from the bottom,” Franzose said.

The Bulldogs play at Wiscasset today.

* * *

The Erskine baseball team is putting on a dance recital of sorts Saturday night in the school gymnasium to benefit the American Cancer Society. It’s part of a Coaches vs. Cancer week sponsored by the Maine Baseball Coaches Association. The week will be officially held May 21-25 around the state with proceeds from all games going to the American Cancer Society.

“We’ve designated our game with Cony on the 25th as our cancer game,” Erskine coach Lars Jonassen said. “We came up with this idea to have a special night.”

The players have each selected a female partner and will perform 12 separate routines. At the end of the night the team will perform a routine together. It begins at 7 p.m. and admission is $5.

* * *

Around the state: Greely has allowed just three runs in five games, and have outscored opponents, 62-3… Chris Benner, a sophomore pitcher for Limestone Maine School of Science and Mathematics, was behind 3-0 last week against Ashland in the first inning. He had surrendered a double, a single and a pair of walks. A visit to the mound from coach Glenn Michaud appeared to change everything. From that point on, Benner struck out 20 batters, didn’t allow a hit and issued one walk in his team’s 11-3 victory… Westbrook was 5-0 going into Thursday’s game at Marshwood, and the only unbeaten team in Western Class A.

Staff writer Gary Hawkins contributed to this report.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]


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