Greyhounds are usually chasing, not being chased. But after surprising Class C South with a run to the regional title game as the sixth seed, the Lisbon Greyhounds are ready for their role as preseason front-runners in 2017.

“The players know they’re going to have a target on their back,” Lisbon coach Randy Ridley said. “They know what they want to achieve and they know they’re not going to be able to sneak in there like they did last year.”

The Greyhounds are loaded up for the challenge. They boast a formidable one-two punch on the mound in lefty Tyler Halls and Lucas Francis. They’re athletic defensively and on the base paths and, with the new pitch count rules, have the bats to take advantage if and when that translates into having more pitches to hit.

Of course, being the favorite doesn’t guarantee anything, as Monmouth can attest. The Mustangs rolled through an undefeated regular season but had their goal of a state title snuffed in the regional semifinals by fourth-seeded Sacopee Valley (which went on to beat Lisbon in the final and win the state championship).

The Mustangs could thrive in the underdog role. Despite graduating a number of dynamic contributors, they still have plenty of firepower and experience, starting with seniors Hunter Richardson, Travis Hartford and Mat Foulke.

Dirigo will try to make up for a lack of experience on the mound with more pitching-by-committee and with what it hopes will be a more productive offense led by seniors Bryce Whittemore and Mason Corriveau and juniors Luke Lueders, Cooper Chiasson and Cameron Turner. The approach may be a little different, but the Cougars will still be dangerous in June.

St. Dom’s is always dangerous in June, but the Saints are young (10 of their 14 players are freshmen or sophomores) and lacking depth, so they will have a little further to go. Seniors Justin Keaney and Bobby Shelley will lead the Saints through the transition after star pitcher Gavin Bates’ transfer to Kents Hill and the school’s transfer to the Western Maine Conference.

Winthrop may be the strongest candidate for a bounce-back season after missing the playoffs last year. The Ramblers should be a handful for opposing pitchers with a deep lineup led by Bennett Brooks, Jacob Hickey, Matt Ingram and Antonio Meucci. That senior quartet will also lead the pitching staff.

Telstar hopes to improve on its 3-13 campaign and seniors Tanner Wheeler, their ace and an MVC all-star, and Josh Eliot should help them do just that. Mt. Abram doesn’t need to do too much to improve upon its winless 2016, but the all-senior rotation of Sean Allen, John May and Riley Davenport could make them one of most improved teams in the conference if they get more run support than last year.

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