The Waterville baseball team begins its quest for a fifth straight appearance in the Eastern B championship game Wednesday when it hosts Camden Hills in the season opener.

The Purple Panthers will then host rival and Eastern B contender Winslow on Friday.

“Two of the toughest teams we’ll play all year, we’ll get Wednesday and Friday,” Waterville coach Don Sawyer said. “The advantage is that we’ll get them at home.”

The Panthers, who went 17-2 last season, also open the season with plenty of question marks in their rotation. Sawyer said he prefers to go with a three-man rotation, with A.J. Godin and Brian Bellows at the top. Godin will start Wednesday, but Sawyer is undecided on a starter Friday because Bellows is ineligible this week.

“We don’t know what our solution will be,” Sawyer said. “Maybe it will be a combination of kids.”
Freshman Dalton Wood is a candidate for the No. 3 starter.

“We’ll have five or six kids seeing some innings and by the second or third week of the season we’ll see how they develop and we’ll adjust accordingly,” Sawyer said. “We’ll figure out our third starter. We might struggle pitching-wise at the beginning of the year but we’ll get it straightened out.”

• • •

It’s been a rough spring for the Messalonskee softball team, which has yet to practice on its field.

“Oh, yes, it’s definitely been frustrating,” Messalonskee coach Leo Bouchard said. “We’ve been stuck in a gym all spring. You can’t take them outside in the parking lot. You can’t bounce balls to them. So we are stuck being confined with four walls.”

The softball field, which sits in a basin of sorts, is still holding water. The school had to postpone one junior varsity game on the field.

“It’s been a cold spring and nothing is drying up well,” Bouchard said. “We’re hoping the JV’s can get a game out there Wednesday, but who knows.”

The Eagles, who are expected to contend in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A, open the season Wednesday at Edward Little in Auburn. The home opener isn’t until April 22 against Lawrence.

“It’s tough because you really can’t do game situations inside,” Bouchard said. “You are stuck with what you have and you have to make due with what you have. It is what it is. We were at the mercy of melting snow.”

• • •

The Carrabec track and field teams open with what coach Dan Foss dubbed “a numbers explosion.”
There are 16 girls and 13 boys out, which is a big increase from previous years. Foss said he about 10 of each last season.

“We have a lot of young blood coming in, too,” he said. “I’m really excited about this season. This is the biggest team I’ve had in six years.”

Foss attributed the spike in numbers to members of the team recruiting their friends.

“The kids last year had a good time and they talked to everybody,” Foss added. “Plus, the program at the junior high is starting to build, which adds to it.”

The Cobras opened the season last Thursday with a six-team meet at Mountain Valley. The Carrabec girls finished second thanks to four first-place finishers. 

Makayla Leeman won the 100 hurdles (19.87 seconds) and 300 hurdles (59.78). Shenciaray Black won the discus (76 feet, 3 inches) while Macy Welch won the javelin (73-7). Connor Pinkham also won the race walk in 11:24.

On the boys side, Elliot Gore won the 100-meter dash (12.49) and Zach Cates finished first in the race walk (11:51).

“We have a lot to build on this year,” Foss said.

• • •

Winslow baseball coach Jesse LaCasse makes wooden bats and encourages his team to use them in games.

“I let the guys use whatever they fee comfortable with,” said LaCasse, who owns and operates LaCasse Bats out of Skowhegan. “But I have a few guys who use wooden bats on and off.”

Logan Hughes, Joe Hopkins, Zack Guptill and Taylor Roy are among the Raiders who will swing a wooden bat during games this season.

“They switch on and off,” LaCasse said. “If they aren’t hitting they will switch bats. When I was with the junior varsity team, I used to make it mandatory we use wooden bats. Swinging wooden bats makes you more disciplined. My JV team and I used to offer other teams wooden bats for our games and most of them would use them. We’ll see how it goes this year.”
 

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