MADISON — It’s home for now, or at least one of them.

Perhaps expectedly, you won’t find much at Madison Area Memorial High School to suggest that it’s Skowhegan River Hawks territory. There’s a banner that reads “SKOWHEGAN RIVER HAWKS BASEBALL” draped over the outfield fence, but aside from that, there’s little but Madison Bulldogs blue.

Nevertheless, it’s one place (along with Colby College) that a homeless Skowhegan baseball team will be playing their 2024 home games, the first of which was held Saturday afternoon. It’s not a model scenario, but one with which the River Hawks are making do as a new season begins.

“We’re still feeling pretty good,” said Skowhegan junior Miller Foss, whose team defeated Camden Hills 13-4 in Saturday’s season opener. “I would like a home field, but we know we’re going to be here and at Colby this season, and we’re just excited to play some baseball.”

Memorial Park, Skowhegan’s longtime home, is no longer this spring. Both the baseball field and the adjacent tennis courts have been bulldozed to make way for the city’s new consolidated elementary school, scheduled to open in fall 2025.

Skowhegan fans line the third base fence during a baseball game against Camden Hills in Madison. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

As a result, everything has been different for the River Hawks this spring. When they practice outdoors, they’ll primarily do so at the much-smaller middle school field, and their games will be split evenly with four each set to be played at Madison and Colby.


Saturday’s game against Camden Hills at Madison saw a good turnout. Skowhegan fans lined the fence along the third-base side all the way to the bleachers, and the crowd, River Hawks head coach Mike LeBlanc said, helped his team come alive in the middle innings.

“We’re very fortunate that Madison allows us to play here,” LeBlanc said. “It is close, so our fans can come and enjoy it. I’m glad they did show up because, today, we needed a little extra support. It’s a nice field; we got to practice on it yesterday. … Madison has been very good to us.”

Although these are technically home games, it’s still like playing on the road. The River Hawks take a team bus from Skowhegan Area High School to Madison (10 miles west) and will be doing the same for their games at Colby (18 miles south) later in the season.

“The hardest thing is definitely going to be traveling to games,” said Skowhegan sophomore Nathan Wills. “We take the bus, just like we would when we’re playing away games. It’s not like at home where we can just show up to the field.”

As a result of inclement weather, Skowhegan has yet to actually practice outside at the current middle school field. The River Hawks did not play any preseason games in Maine, though they did see some action earlier this week as they took a trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Showhegan pitcher Silas Tibbetts throws to a Camden Hills batter during a baseball game Saturday in Madison. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

That trip to Myrtle Beach’s Ripken Experience complex has Skowhegan more baseball-ready than many of their Maine counterparts. The River Hawks finally got to practice outside — and, more importantly, played five games in six days against teams from around the country.


“It was definitely a big weather change for us,” said Skowhegan junior Tyler Clark. “The experience was real good. We got some good practices and some games in, and we had good team bonding. We had activities, we had lunch together, and we had the beach. It’s definitely a step up from being in the gym.”

Foss, who said Skowhegan saw faster pitching in Myrtle Beach than it usually does in Maine, said playing such competition helped the River Hawks improve as a team. He also said the turf fields prepared the team for the four games they’ll play on Colby’s turf surface next month.

As for Saturday’s game, Skowhegan looked the part of a team that used a full week of tuneup games to its advantage. The River Hawks used an eight-run fourth inning highlighted by a Brenden Dunlap bases-loaded double to break open a tie-game en route to the nine-run victory.

“I think we were a little more patient at the plate, saw some better pitches and put them in play,” LeBlanc said of his team’s fourth-inning breakthrough. “(Camden Hills pitcher Hunter Bell) is good. He struck out 11 against Edward Little on 56 pitches, so we knew going in that he was going to be around the plate.”

In addition to Dunlap’s base hit, three RBIs and two runs scored, Skowhegan also got two hits, an RBI and a run scored from Jack Fitzpatrick. Silas Tibbetts (six strikeouts, three earned runs) pitched the first 4 2/3 innings for Skowhegan, and Brayden Bellerose (five strikeouts) was perfect in 2 1/3 innings of relief.

Skowhegan, then, is a team that believes it can win ball games anywhere. It’s a different away from a park that’s long been a source of town pride, but the team’s approach is no different than it would be at home as the first stretch of games unfolds.

“We’re just playing ball and coming out prepared and focused,” Wills said. “Wherever we play, we’re ready to take some productive (at-bats) and hopefully win some games.”

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