It won’t be an easy schedule for Richmond, but coach Ryan Gardner said that’s the point.

The Bobcats will break often from their East/West Conference confines, with games against Class C squads in St. Dominic, Traip, Sacopee Valley, Old Orchard Beach and North Yarmouth Academy — twice. It’s a tougher slate than they’re used to, and it’s by design.

“We’ve got to see different kinds of pitching,” Gardner said. “We’ve got to see that competition where if you don’t show up to play, you get beat.”

That’s the sort of competition that will be there in the playoffs, after all. And Gardner expects his team to be right near the top of the mix when postseason time rolls around, right alongside the normal D South favorites Buckfield and Searsport.

“We want to play on the big field at the end of the year,” he said, referring to the field at St. Joseph’s College that will host the Class D regional and state finals. “That’s our goal. What happens on the big field is a little bit of skill, a little bit of luck. … But our goal is to get there and see what happens.”

There’s a whole season to deal with in the meantime, but the Bobcats head into it poised for a successful spring. Richmond has an abundance of depth, with 23 players coming out for the team, and seven starters back from a team that reached the D South semifinals.


It’ll start with senior Brendan Emmons and junior Zach Small, who return as the team’s top two pitchers and project as the club’s No. 2 and 3 hitters, respectively. The pitching is deep, however, with Matt Holt and Danny Stewart rounding out the rotation, Nate Kendrick and Matt Rines also experienced pitching at the varsity level.

“We’ve got plenty of arms,” Gardner said. “We have a luxury. We have 10 pitchers. We have four freshmen that can pitch, six upperclassmen that can pitch, and with the new (pitch count) rules, I think that’ll be an advantage.”

Emmons, Holt and Small also return as the heart of a solid lineup, and the speedy Rines is expected to take over the leadoff responsibilities.

“We have the pieces,” Gardner said. “We’ve got kids behind kids to push. You’ve got to play well or somebody’s coming. That’s always a good thing.”

Valley made a run to the regional final last year, before losing to eventual Class D state champion Searsport. Cody Laweryson and his blazing fastball are now at the University of Maine, and head coach Scott Laweryson is looking at a number of pitchers to help fill the void. At the top of the list is senior Nathan Ames, who threw a lot of innings for the Cavaliers last season.

“Nate threw well for us last year, and will be our workhorse, as much as he can be,” Coach Laweryson said.


Junior Josh Brown also is a returning pitcher. Brandon Thomas, Dillon Beane and Keeghan Farnham also worked on the mound in the preseason, as Laweryson looked to improve Valley’s pitching depth.

“We’re always trying to develop guys who can throw strikes,” Laweryson said.

Thomas, Beane, Brown and Farnham should lead Valley’s offense.

Rangeley has steadily improved since the sport returned to the school in 2015. Last season, Rangeley won nine games and reached the regional semifinals. The Lakers return everybody and hope that experience helps to take another step forward in the redevelopment of the program that won a state title in 2008.

The key to continued improvement is playing better defense, coach Jeff LaRochelle said. Last season, too many errors led to big innings for Rangeley opponents, turning a few close games into lopsided losses, and a few would-be wins into losses.

“We have to make sure we’re not having those innings where we’re giving five or six outs. The games we lost last year, that’s what happened,” LaRochelle said.


The Lakers have a solid pitching rotation with Ricky Thompson, Kyle LaRochelle and Bo Beaulieu. That trio, along with Carl Trafton, Zach Trafton and Hunter Lowell, give Rangeley a core of upperclassmen with plenty of varsity experience.

“I like my hitting. Everybody’s back from last year,” Coach LaRochelle said. “We’ve got to work on defense.”

Forest Hills is a young team that hopes to improve this season. The Tigers have just two seniors (first baseman/pitcher Aaron Moffitt and shortstop Javier Padilla) and two juniors (third base/pitcher Caleb Lacasse and second base/pitcher Carson Veilleux). A few underclassmen gained valuable varsity experience last season and that will be a key toward the Tigers’ improvement this season.

Temple Academy will look for improvement under new coach Craig Riportella.

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