The list of homegrown pitchers choosing the University of Maine baseball baseball program during the last four years is considerable.
Justin Courtney of Bangor, Jeff Gelinas of Saco, Jonah Normandeau of Cumberland, Trevor DeLaite of Bangor, Cody Laweryson of Bingham, Eddie Emerson of Lewiston and Brewer’s Matt Pushard were all recent impact aces on the state’s high school baseball scene before heading to the Orono campus. And this fall Bangor’s Peter Kemble and Hampden Academy’s Alex McKenney will add their names to coach Nick Derba’s roster.
That flow of talent arms from within isn’t stopping anytime soon, given the announcement via Twitter that Oxford Hills of South Paris right-hander Colton Carson has made a verbal commitment to join the UMaine program once he graduates from high school in 2019.
“The biggest reason for UMaine to take a look at him this early is his potential,” said Oxford Hills head coach Shane Slicer. “He’s a mid-80s (mph) guy right now, and I think he’s going to fill out and grow a little more so you’re looking at a guy who’ll be able to throw 90. That’s a big thing for them.
“For me, the biggest thing for Colton is he never gets rattled. He can give up a hit, he can walk a couple of guys but he comes right back to it, he’s a great competitor. He doesn’t take the last pitch with him, he just bounces back when the chips are down.”
The 6-foot-4-inch Carson, who lives in Bethel, went 5-1 with a 1.17 earned run average as a sophomore at Oxford Hills last spring, helping the Vikings to a 14-2 regular-season record and the No. 1 seed in the Class A North Heal Point ratings.
“Every time he took the mound we had a real good chance no matter who we were facing,” said Slicer.
Oxford Hills advanced to the regional semifinals before being ousted by Bangor, which went on to win its fourth consecutive Class A state championship.
Carson, who was a reliever during his freshman season at Oxford Hills along with Andrew Fleming, now a standout basketball player at UMaine, was named to the All-Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A first team for his work on the mound in 2017.
“He pitched really well,” said Slicer. “I thought the entire team made a big jump this year and Colton led that charge.”
Carson went on to help Bessey Motors of South Paris win the American Legion Zone 2 championship and qualify for the Legion state tournament this summer.
Carson is a three-sport athlete at Oxford Hills, playing varsity basketball and also a prime candidate to be the starting quarterback for the Vikings’ football team this fall.
“He’s just beginning to pitch,” said Slicer. “He isn’t a complete pitcher yet, but his upside is awesome.”