Buckfield’s Shane St. Pierre makes a great catch on a deep fly ball to the outfield during a game against Richmond in April. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
Class A North
Players to watch: C Tyler Parke, Bangor, Sr.; P/3B Zach Cowperthwaite, Bangor, Jr.; P/1B Colton Carson, Oxford Hills, Jr.; OF Hunter LaBossiere, Oxford Hills, Sr.; 1B/P Grant Hartley, Edward Little, Sr.; C/3B Maxx Bell, Edward Little, Sr.; 3B/P Evan Cox, Lewiston, Sr; 1B/P Hunter Landry, Lewiston, Jr.; P Nick Lorenzo, Hampden, Sr.; SS Nick Merrill, Mt. Ararat, Sr.; P Colby Esty, Skowhegan, Sr.; 2B Tyler Lewis, Messalonskee, Sr.
Favorites: Bangor, Oxford Hills.
The top-seeded Rams are seeking an unprecedented fifth consecutive Class A title and were the most consistent team in the region all season. Some observers believe they are more vulnerable than at any other time during this run because they don’t have the same depth and experience. But that was the same diagnosis before they went 15-1. The Vikings are responsible for the lone blemish on their record, and it wasn’t a fluke. They have the deeper team all around, and can be tough to beat when their pitching and defense are on their games.
Darkhorses: Edward Little, Lewiston.
Though they ended the season going in opposite directions, the Twin Cities rivals have shown they can beat anyone in the tournament. EL hopes to resemble the team that started the season 12-0 and not the one that dropped three of its last four to Bangor, Oxford Hills and Lewiston. The Blue Devils hope the long break leading up to the quarterfinals doesn’t diminish the momentum of winning 12 of their last 13 after starting the season 0-3.
Overview: Bangor has earned “team to beat until someone actually does it” status. But after emerging as the No. 4 seed last year (and facing No. 7 Mt. Ararat in the regional final), the Rams know a high seed and home field through the first two rounds guarantee nothing. Oxford Hills, Lewiston and Edward Little have all shown that they can play with the Rams even when they themselves aren’t at the top of the their game.
Class B South
Players to watch: SS Liam Bell, Wells, Sr.; P Cam Cousins, Wells, Sr.; P/3B Sean Agrodnia, Cape Elizabeth, Sr.; C Brendan Tinsman, Cape Elizabeth, Jr.; C/OF Luke Miller, Greely, Sr.; P/1B Will Neleski, Greely, Jr.; 3B Tim MacDonald, York, Sr.; 1B/P Tommy Carr, York, Sr.; P/1B Hunter Ames, Mountain Valley, Sr.; P/3B Garrett Garbarini, Mountain Valley, Jr.; C Colby Wagner, Freeport, Sr.; P Shea Wagner, Freeport, Jr.; P/OF Luke Waeldner, Yarmouth, Sr.; OF/P John Romano, Yarmouth, Jr.; OF/1B Tucker Buzzell, Fryeburg, Jr.; 2B/P Dawson Jones, Fryeburg, So.; P/1B Tim Albert, Leavitt, Sr.; P/SS Brian Hewitt, Leavitt, Sr.; P/3B Jordy Daigle, Spruce Mtn. Sr.; SS/P Nick Lombardi, Spruce Mtn., Sr; P/SS Josiah Rottari, Gray-New Gloucester, Sr.; C Nick McCann, Gray-New Gloucester, Jr.
The Warriors’ pitching and defense propelled them to the top seed and should keep them in every game going forward. The offense has shown a knack for comebacks. The only question is their youth (only two seniors). But much of the team has plenty of big-game experience through football and basketball.
Darkhorses: York, Greely.
In a region chock full of Cinderella stories (Freeport, Yarmouth) in recent years, virtually everyone in the tournament should be considered dangerous. York may be the most balanced team in the field. Greely’s young nucleus may have found its stride after an up-and-down start.
Overivew: Oak Hill was the last non-Western Maine Conference school to win the region, way back in 2006. Based on seedings, it appears the WMC has a good chance of continuing its dominance this year. Underdogs have fared will in the region recently, but for a Mountain Valley, Leavitt or Spruce Mountain to play the role this year, they will have to be ready to play at a higher level than the MVC and KVAC Class B have required all season.
Class C South
Players to watch: OF/P Austin Stebbins, Hall-Dale, Jr.; C Akira Warren, Hall-Dale, So.; P/2B Nick Austin, Lisbon, Sr.; P/3B Lucas Francis, Lisbon, Jr.; P/1B Dan Garand, Maranacook, Sr.; P/3B Jared Beckwith, Maranacook, Sr.; P/OF Shane MacNeill, Traip, Sr.; P/C Hunter Sawtelle, Traip, Sr.; 3B Dylan Willette, Carrabec/Madison, Sr.; P/C Evan Bess, Carrabec/Madison, Sr.; SS/P Mac Pelletier, St. Dom’s, Sr.; 1B/P Riley Volpe, St. Dom’s, Jr.; P/INF Nick Dovinsky, Monmouth, Sr.; P/1B Avery Pomerleau, Monmouth, Sr.; 3B/P Carson Camick, Winthrop, Sr.; 1B/P Ryan Baird, Winthrop, So; P/Util; Dylan Miner, Sacopee Valley, Sr; SS Sam Storer, Mt. Abram, Sr.; OF Evan MacKay, Mt. Abram, Sr.
Favorites: Hall-Dale, Lisbon.
The Bulldogs were a buzzsaw in the MVC, showing offensive and pitching depth. The Greyhounds, the defending champions, have pitching depth, a balanced lineup and are motivated by unfinished business from last year. Hall-Dale won the regular-season finale between the teams, 3-2.
Darkhorses: Traip, St. Dom’s.
Playing a Western Maine Conference schedule that included some of the top Class B teams sometimes pays dividends in the tournament. The Rangers and Saints, who split their pair head-to-head games, seem to be following that trend by playing their best baseball at the tail end of the season.
Overview: Hall-Dale and Lisbon appear to have been on a collision course all season. But both face potentially daunting semifinal matchups — the Bulldogs with Carrabec/Madison, the only team to beat them, and the Greyhounds against the St. Dom’s-Maranacook winner. Whoever emerges will likely have played the most mistake-free baseball.
Class D South
Players to watch: P/C Ben Powell, Searsport, Sr.; P/C Charlie Spiegel, Searsport, Jr.; P Zach Small, Richmond, Sr.; P/SS Matt Rines, Richmond, Sr.; 1B/P, Connor DiAngelo, Greenville, Sr.; C Nick Caiazzo, Greenville, Jr.; SS/P Ethan Jackson, Buckfield, Sr.; 1B/P Zack Grover, Buckfield, Sr.; 1B/P Kyle LaRochelle, Rangeley, Sr.; SS/P Bo Beaulieu, Rangeley, Sr.; 3B/P Andrew Moody, Vinalhaven/North Haven, Sr.; P/SS Sawyer Deroche, Temple, Sr.; 2B Carson Veilleux, Forest Hills, Sr.
The Vikings are trying to become the first Class D team to win four consecutive state titles. Their now familiar formula includes a tough Penobscot Valley Conference schedule, which has had teams win both the South and North each of the last three years. With just four seniors, this year’s team is younger than its predecessors, but is plenty battle-tested.
Darkhorses: Richmond, Greenville.
The Bobcats are no strangers to deep tournament runs, and their pitching has been outstanding all season, allowing four or more runs just twice. Like Searsport, the Lakers thrived in the PVC and even split a doubleheader with the Vikings near the end of the regular season
Overview: It may be a younger Searsport team than recent editions, but it may also be hungrier. The Buckfield-Rangeley quarterfinal winner could be formidable in the semifinals and a potential matchup with Richmond or Greenville in the final could be a nail-biter. Experience and poise may be the difference.