The high school baseball season is over, but many players are entering the 2016 American Legion baseball campaign in mid-season form.

Maine’s Legion baseball landscape is split into four zones. Due to lower player turnout this season, among other factors, the zones were again adjusted prior to the 2016 season. Some teams were consolidated, others disappeared.

For Pastime head coach Jake Brown, whose team draws from Lewiston, Lisbon, Leavitt and Monmouth high schools, this proves challenging in helping kids adapt.

“It seems less people are playing baseball,” Brown said. “They are trying to provide an opportunity to play, but there is a lot of consolidating going on. It makes it a little challenging because everyone has different signs and cover. It’s a challenge to get everyone on the same side.”

Legion commissioner Dan St. Pierre is busy prior to, and during, the season when it comes to keeping track of all the teams in Maine.

“Fifty-three teams this year, 18 kids per team, five to six coaches per team,” St. Pierre said. “I tell everyone, ‘What the heck could go wrong?’”


St. Pierre acknowledged Legion’s competition with sports like lacrosse, hockey, soccer and basketball, which all have their own summer programs, but emphasized he will push to put Legion on the map again in his first year as Legion Commissioner.

“I want them to know the American Legion is interested in baseball,” St. Pierre said. “It’s the largest program the American Legion has — baseball. We want to make the state tournament in Augusta something special. That’s my goal.”

As for as on the field, Zone 2 is filled with talent.

Pastime is bringing back a few players from the zone championship team in 2014, with the likes of pitcher Brady Cusson and catcher Brock Belanger. That experience bodes well for the team going forward, according to Brown.

“Experience is crucial,” Brown said. “It’s important that they were in a championship setting. We have a lot of internal competition, kids battling for spots, and it will make us better.”

Because every game matters during the Legion season, Brown likes his chances because of the depth of his squad.


“We have a lot of balance,” Brown said. “We don’t have players that may dominate, but we are really athletic … We are good enough to beat any team in the zone, but we need to show up.”

While Brown acknowledged Bessey Motors, among others, would be tough competition this year, his cross-town rival, Rogers Post of Auburn, would be the rivalry his team needs to grow.

“Auburn is our rival and it’s good to have a rivalry game,” Brown said. “It makes for a good learning experience. Auburn is hungry for us because we beat them last spring.”

Rogers head coach Dave Jordan is excited for the season due to the experienced squad he has inherited.

“We should have a pretty solid squad,” Jordan said. “We should compete for a potential zone championship … We had some pretty good pitching during the high school season and hopefully we get those performances this summer, from people like Gavin Bates. I think there are times our bats can be pretty strong as well, and the guys love being around each other.”

Rogers pitcher Ben Harris is excited for the new season, as well.


“I think we have a solid team,” Harris said. “We should do pretty well, all of us work together and we have good team chemistry … (pitcher) Jarod Norcross-Plourde, (pitcher, infielder) Llewellyn Jensen, most of us are very good athletes and can compete at any level.”

One team that is historically smaller than Rogers and Pastime is Locke Mills. Consisting of Telstar High School, Gould Academy, Mountain Valley High School and Hebron Academy, head coach Brad Clarke is focusing on the individual first.

“The number one goal is to develop each individual,” Clarke said. “We hope to be competitive and to surprise some teams.”

Even though Locke Mills is led by 19-year-old catcher Kyle Joseph and pitcher Caleb Clarke, Clarke says that their success is a testament to their coaching staff. Clarke mentioned that assistant coaches Bob Remington, a coach at St. Joe’s College, and John Elliot, coach at Telstar, are their team’s biggest strengths.

Franklin County head coach Kyle Gunzinger is also leading a young team into the 2016 season, one that he says will be predicated on their pitching.

“The pitching has been very solid. We have been in every game this season,” Gunzinger said. “Colton Lawrence and Ryan Pratt have both been around a while and they should lead our pitchers.”

While pitching might be their strength, Gunzinger wants to bring it back to the basics on the other side of the ball.

“We do a lot of batting practice. We try to teach something a lot that I feel is under taught, which is plate approach,” Gunzinger said. “We just have to progress them along in terms of baseball. The kids battle and I’m proud of them for battling.”

Bessey Motors brings back a lot of talent, as well. The primary feeder team for the squad, Oxford Hills, lost earlier then anticipated in the high school playoffs, and many of those players will be looking to recover with wins and a run at a title in the summer.

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