The baseball program at Rangeley isn’t new, but it might as well be.

Current players are barely old enough to remember when the Lakers won back-to-back Class D West titles in 2007 and 2008, capping the second run with a state championship.

For most of them, though, that’s the extent of what they know about high school baseball. Rangeley dropped its program after the 2012 season.

“It’s not a rebuild. I’m calling it a build,” Rangeley coach Jeff LaRochelle said. “I have one senior who didn’t play at all his sophomore or junior year. I have two juniors who haven’t played since middle school.”

LaRochelle is also Rangeley’s basketball coach. He led the junior high program in 2014 and followed that group to the varsity level.

His son, Kyle, is one of six freshmen on the team. There are also two eighth-graders on the roster of 13.

“It might be tough this year when we go to play a team like Richmond or Buckfield,” LaRochelle said. “I’ve tried to explain to them that if they don’t get down on themselves and stay with it, by the time they’re seniors, they’ll be that team with four or five years’ varsity experience.”

Mason Cavalier, a pitcher and catcher, is the lone senior.

“I don’t know how successful we will be this year, but I am happy for him that he gets a chance to go out and play one more time,” LaRochelle said. “He’s a great kid, a straight-A student. If you watch him in basketball, he’s the kind of kid who will run through a wall for you.”

Sophomore Ricky Thompson and freshamn Zack Trafton could be impact players for the Lakers.

Buckfield has been the powerhouse in Class D West and the East-West Conference in recent years, winning the region in 2012 and 2013 and losing to Wiscasset of the MVC in the 2014 West final.

The Bucks will make their run at a fourth appearance in the title game with a new coach, Kyle Rines, and without Jonah Williams, the hard-throwing lefthander who dominated most league opponents during his career.

Tyler Vallee is poised to take over the No. 1 role on the mound after going undefeated as a junior, while Sidney Jackson, one of the school’s top athletes, provides a lift by donning the baseball cleats for the first time since Little League.

Senior Jared Eastman and sophomore Jake Kraske and Matt Beaucage also return to the starting lineup.

“We have been very successful the past four years based on our hitting and pitching,” Rines said. “This year in order for us to be successful, we will have to pitch and field at a high level, as our batting isn’t as strong as years past.”

Wiscasset won the region despite finishing the season with only nine varsity players a year ago. Searsport also reached the semifinals with a young team before falling victim to Williams and Buckfield. And Richmond remains a factor in the EWC and regional title chase, as always.


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