Gardiner infielder Noah Reed shares a laugh with Erskine baserunner Nick Barber at second base during a game Tuesday in South China. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

In the middle of January, Nick Barber’s promising basketball season was cut short.

He’s made sure the baseball season’s been a different story.

Roughly three months after suffering a torn meniscus that sidelined him for the rest of the winter, Barber is back as the senior leader of the Erskine baseball team. He plays first base and bats cleanup, and drove in the tying run and scored the winning run in Erskine’s 3-2 season-opening victory over Gardiner.

“I’ve just been off my leg, I’ve been trying to keep it easy,” he said. “It feels great now, it doesn’t really hurt. It’s all good now. I’m just not trying to catch, (I don’t want) to hurt it even more.”

Barber said it took between five and six weeks for the injury to recover.

“I just stayed off it, and it healed up,” he said. “Now I’m good.”

A classmate of Barber’s, Courtney Paine on the Erskine girls lacrosse team had her own road back from injury. In the fall of her freshman year, Paine was a promising runner on the cross country team until a fractured hip sidelined her for 10 months. When she came back for the fall of her sophomore year, she found that osteopenia, a bone disorder, had caused fractures in both tibias, putting her out of action for seven more months.

She returned to sports with lacrosse that spring, and as four goals against MCI/Nokomis on Monday indicate, she’s at full strength now.

“I had to cut back on running. I can’t run like I used to. But I got super into weightlifting, so I’m into that now,” she said. “It’s really just about not staying down for me. That’s what it was about. I was really bummed when my season was canceled for cross country, I didn’t know what else to look for. But lacrosse came up, and I went along with it.”

• • •

The Messalonskee track and field team is set to host a meet for the first time in more than four decades.

The Eagles will host a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference meet Friday at 10 a.m.

“We’re very, very excited about it,” coach Matt Holman said.

Messalonskee hasn’t hosted a meet since the 1980s, Holman said. An eight-lane track was installed around Veterans Field as part of upgrades a few years ago, which included an artificial turf field. While the field was ready to host event in the spring 2019, finishing touches had yet to be completed, preventing the outdoor track and field team from hosting a meet. The entire high school spring sports season was cancelled last year in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Messalonskee also is scheduled to host the Community Cup meet — the annual rivalry meet between Messalonskee, Lawrence, Skowhegan, Waterville, and Winslow — on May 22. To limit the number of athletes at the big end-of-season meets, the KVAC will break its annual championship meet into four events, divided into division by school size. Messalonskee is expected to host two of those four KVAC meets, Holman said.

Eventually, Messalonskee could host a state championship meet.

“I think the conference meets will be a good chance to show that we have the ability and facilities to host any sized meet,” Holman said.

• • •

Cony senior Riley Geyer committed Tuesday to Division III Norwich University in Vermont, where he will play quarterback.

Cony quarterback Riley Geyer throws a pass Wednesday during an Aug. 26 practice at Cony High School in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal Buy this Photo

“I went up for a tour and I loved it, and right there, I was like ‘I think this is it,'” said Geyer, who also considered Husson and Bridgewater State. “Within a two- or three-week period, I toured four or five schools. As soon as I saw Norwich, I liked it.”

Geyer, who also played receiver at Cony, said he liked hearing that Norwich’s plan was to have him behind center. Geyer didn’t play the position until eighth grade, but quickly became a standout dual-threat quarterback in the Pine Tree Conference.

“It stuck with me all the way through, and I feel like going to the next level, playing collegiate football especially at quarterback, I feel like I can play pretty well there,” he said. “As long as they see I can play, it makes me feel much more comfortable.”

Geyer said he’ll likely redshirt as he continues the recovery from a torn ACL suffered in December.

“I don’t want to waste a year of eligibility, because it’s a nine-month recovery,” he said. “But I’ll be there for every game, every practice, every meeting, so I’ll know the playbook like the back of my hand.”

• • •

The Mt. Ararat baseball team is finally set to play its season opener when it visits Yarmouth on Friday.

The Eagles had been quarantining all last week and into this one.

“The team stayed connected via Zoom and did what they could at home to stay game ready,” said Mt. Ararat head coach Brett Chase. “I’m sure there will be a little rust to go around, but I have preached to the team since Day 1 that we aren’t making any excuses this season.”

The Eagles were able to practice indoors on Wednesday and outside on Thursday afternoon despite the cold temperatures. They are set to play Freeport on Saturday.

Yarmouth (1-0) is coming off a 4-3 road win over Brunswick on Tuesday, while Freeport (1-0) took care of Gray-New Gloucester on Wednesday in a convincing 11-1 victory at home.

• • •

Morse High School plans to resume athletics April 27, according to athletic director Nathan Priest. The school paused all athletics on April 9 because of coronavirus concerns. Morse postponed all games that were originally scheduled for this week. … The Brunswick baseball team will be without a key contributor for the foreseeable future, as Thomas Harvey fractured a finger in a practice last week. Harvey, a sophomore outfielder who was slated to start on opening day, injured his finger while fielding a fly ball.

The Times record staff writer Eli Canfield contributed to this report.

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