When asked to pinpoint one or two things that the Madison Area Memorial High School baseball team is doing differently this season, things that have factored into the Bulldogs 9-0 start, coach Scott Franzose couldn’t do it.

“Hey, it’s baseball,” Franzose said. “The main thing is, we have a great group of kids. We have 12 guys, and they’re all contributing.”

Madison improved to 9-0 with Wednesday’s 2-1 win at Hall-Dale. Madison plays at Wiscasset on Friday, and a win would set up a possible meeting of undefeated teams on Monday against Monmouth. The Mustangs, also 9-0, host Boothbay on Friday.

“If Monmouth does what it’s supposed to do, and we do what we’re supposed to do, we’ll both be 10-0,” Franzose said, adding that his team is not looking past Wiscasset.

Franzose said Wednesday’s win at Hall-Dale was a good example of his team’s character. The Bulldogs stranded 11 runners on base, never got discouraged, and fought to win a close game.

“We’ve been tested a lot this year. I don’t think we’ve come close to playing our best baseball yet,” Franzose said.

Madison is in third place in the Class C South Heal point standings, less than half a point behind second-place Sacopee Valley. Monday’s opponent Monmouth is in first place.

“Before the season started, we knew everybody has an ace. Monmouth was a team we felt coming in had that pitching depth to be right near the top of our conference,” Franzose said. “It’s a game, it’s going to come down to two or three plays.”

• • •

The Rangeley baseball team returned last season after a two-year layoff, and enjoyed a little success, winning three games and reaching the Class D South quarterfinals. This season, the Lakers are showing a little more improvement, but will be tested over the next two weeks with four games against regional contenders Valley and Richmond.

“I think we’re in a pretty good place, but these next four games are tough,” Rangeley coach Jeff LaRochelle said. “With these next four games, we’re going to know where we stand.”

The Lakers improved to 5-2 with Tuesday’s 9-8 win over Buckfield. Rangeley has hit well, averaging just over 11 runs per game. What the Lakers need to do now is improve defensively, and cut down on errors. Both losses, one to Buckfield and one to Vinalhaven, came because a few errors led to big innings, LaRochelle said. Even a few wins were turned into close game because of defense.

“What still haunts us is the inning where we give up five outs. If we want to take that next step, we’ve got to work on getting that down. Valley and Richmond, you don’t want to give those guys five out innings, or you’ll be down 5-0.

The Lakers are young. Of the 12 players, four are sophomores, three are freshmen, and one is in eighth grade. Rangeley was young last season, too, but after making the playoffs last season, opponents aren’t looking past the Lakers the way they may have a year ago.

“We’re not creeping up on people. We’re seeing a lot of teams’ best pitchers now,” LaRochelle said.

Friday’s game against Temple Academy was postponed. It will be made up as part of a doubleheader on May 31.

• • •

Valley has only played four games so far. The Cavaliers haven’t been the victim of bad weather, just a quirky schedule.

“We’re going to be stacked (with games) hard,” Valley coach Scott Laweryson said. “Hopefully, we’ll plan our pitching right. It’s just the way the schedule was set up.”

Starting with Friday’s game against Buckfield, Valley (3-1) has three games in five days, then a doubleheader against Vinalhaven on May 21. The Cavs crushed the ball in their three wins, scoring 30, 19 and 10 runs. Cody Laweryson, the team’s University of Maine-bound ace, has 20 strikeouts in seven innings of work. Sophomore Josh Brown pitched well in Tuesday’s 10-0 win over Forest Hills, needing only 50 pitches to get through five innings, Coach Laweryson said.

It’s rare for a Class D player to move on to a Division I college program, and that’s led to some bigger crowds at Valley’s games, eager to see Cody Laweryson play. Coach Laweryson said when the Cavaliers played at Richmond on May 4, the parking lot was full.

“That’s the most I’ve ever seen for one of our games,” he said. “Cody’s Cody. He’s on autopilot. He’s a team leader, and he’s really helping with the younger guys.”

• • •

With his first season as Skowhegan’s coach more than half complete, Mike LeBlanc thinks his team is making the improvement he expected.

“We’re right about where we should be,” LeBlanc, who came to Skowhegan after years coaching at Forest Hills in Jackman, said.

The Indians are 5-5 and ranked sixth in Class A North, with a big game against rival Lawrence, the No. 5 seed, set for Friday.

Skowhegan has some big wins, including a 3-2 win over Brewer on May 5. What LeBlanc wants to see in the final six regular-season games is more consistency. Four of Skowhegan’s five losses were by six runs or more.

“For us, the biggest thing is playing with a level head. We have a tendency, when things go bad, to compound our problems. All but one of our losses were blowouts,” LeBlanc said.

With a number of veterans on the team, LeBlanc can’t single out any individuals who have been keys to the team’s success.

“On any given day, anyone is picking it up. It’s really been a team effort,” LeBlanc said.

Skowhegan follows Friday’s home game against Lawrence with four straight road games, before ending the regular season at home against Mt. Blue on May 31.

• • •

Around the state: Falmouth and Portland are both undefeated in Class A South. Both could run the regular season without a loss, as they will not play each until a possible playoff meeting… Houlton outscored its last three opponents 41-6. The Shiretowners are 8-0 and in first place in Class C North… Edward Little and Bangor are each undefeated in Class A North. They’ll play each other on May 23 at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


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