Class A North

Players to watch: 2B Brayden Bean, Oxford Hills, Sr.; OF Hunter LaBossiere, Oxford Hills, Jr.; P/1B Jack Corey, Brewer, Sr.; P/3B Jarod Norcross Plourde, Edward Little, Sr.; SS/OF/P Tyler Blanchard, Edward Little, Sr.; P/OF Peter Kemble, Bangor, Sr.; P/OF Casey Sudbeck, Sr.; C/OF Nate Osgood, Lewiston, Sr.; SS/P Evan Cox, Lewiston, Jr.; C/2B Cameron Cox, Mt. Ararat, Sr.; Garrison Looke, Camden Hills, Sr.; OF Kolby Lawrence, Lawrence, Sr.; IF Tyler Lewis, Jr.

Favorites: Oxford Hills, Brewer.

The Vikings and Witches earned their favored statuses with outstanding regular seasons. They are similar teams in every way but experience. Brewer has a dozen seniors on the roster. Oxford Hills has two, one of them a starter, but had numerous juniors and sophomores emerge as key contributors and won more close games than their more experienced peers. Neither team will hit the cover off the ball, but rarely beat themselves and are deep in the pitching department. 

Darkhorses: Edward Little, Bangor.

Last year’s regional finalists have legitimate arguments for favored status. Both teams have strong pitching staffs led by talented horses headed for Division I (Norcross Plourde to Hartford, Kemble to Maine). The Red Eddies have a strong No. 2 in lefty Damien St. Pierre, who beat Kemble during the regular season, and some pop in the lineup with Norcorss Plourde and junior slugger Grant Hartley. Consistent offensive production has eluded the Rams, but they are the three-time state champions, so don’t be surprised if they find a way.

Overview: Based on the regular season, the top six teams have reasons to be confident and reasons to be anxious about their chances. Oxford Hills has wins over Bangor and EL, but has also lost to EL and Brewer. Edward Little’s signature wins came against Oxford Hills and Bangor. Hampden beat Brewer twice and had two 3-2 losses to Bangor. Lewiston, another young team on the rise, beat Edward Little in one of two meetings, and Hampden. 

The postseason often comes down to experience, pitching depth and who makes the fewest mistakes. With less separating the top contenders than the region has seen in recent years, those factors could be even more important.

Prediction: Brewer.

Class B South

Players to watch: P Dustin Crawford, Bridgeway, Sr.; OF/P Chris Neilson, York, Sr.; Of/P Ryan Sousa, Wells, Sr.; C Brendan Tinsman, Cape Elizabeth, Jr.; P/SS Ryan Twitchell, Greely, Sr.; OF Noah Preble, Spruce Mtn., Sr.; P/SS Austin Gilboe, Sprue Mtn., Sr.; C Lucas Perry, Leavitt, Sr.; P/3B Tim Albert, Leavitt, Jr.; Taylor Shaw, Morse, Sr.; SS Chris Romano, Yarmouth, Sr.; SS/C/P John Pepin, Mtn. Valley, Sr.; 1B Jon Adley, Mtn. Valley, Sr.; OF Joey Burke, Freeport, Sr.; P/SS John Henry Villanueva, Gray-New Gloucester, Sr.; OF Jake Winchester, Gray-New Gloucester, Sr.

Favorite: York.

The Wildcats emerged as the best Class B team in the Western Maine Conference, which has dominated the region for a decade. They’ve won nine in a row and boast perhaps the most potent offense in the tournament. 

Darkhorses: Wells, Greely.

Wells was the only team to show it could keep York’s offense under control, posting a 2-1 win and a 1-0 loss to the Wildcats during the regular season. Greely struggled down the stretch, losing five of its last six. But the Rangers are young and boast perhaps the most dominant pitcher in the region in Twitchell. 

Overivew: Oak Hill was the last non-Western Maine Conference school to win the region, in 2006. But as last year showed, when seventh-seeded Freeport won the title, anything is possible in June. Bridgeway, a co-op of Madison and Carrabec, is the best candidate to break the WMC’s stranglehold. Senior-laden Spruce Mountain may be poised for a last hurrah. 

Prediction: Greely.

Class C South

Players to watch: P/OF Tyler Halls, Lisbon, Sr.; C Nick Lerette, Lisbon, Sr.; P/SS Jacob Hickey, Winthrop, Sr.; C Matt Ingram, Winthrop, Sr.; C Akira Warren, Hall-Dale, Fr.; P/OF Trevor Salema, Traip, Sr.; C Bryce Whittemore, Dirigo, Sr.; P/SS Luke Lueders, Dirigo, Jr.; SS/P Hunter Richardson, Monmouth, Sr.; 2B/OF Nick Dovinsky, Monmouth, Jr.; P/1B Justin Keaney, St. Dom’s, Sr.; OF Bobby Shelley, St. Dom’s, Sr.; SS Joe McCullum, Old Orchard Beach, Sr.; C/P Dana Shea, Sacopee Valley, Sr.

Favorite: Lisbon.

The Greyhounds are balanced and deep, led by one of the top batteries in Class C in Halls and Lerette. The lineup is deep, potent and versatile, capable of manufacturing runs or winning a slugfest. 

Darkhorses: Dirigo, St. Dom’s.

Dirigo turned its season around and enters the tournament on a five-game winning streak that includes victories over Lisbon and Hall-Dale. The Saints seem to rise to the occasion this time of year and can’t be overlooked, regardless of seeding.

Overview: Lisbon went into the season as the favorite in the region and has lived up to the billing so far. But the region has plenty of landmines in store for the Greyhounds and recent history isn’t on the top seed’s side.

Winthrop and Hall-Dale, the second and third seed, respectively, are both capable of of beating the Greyhounds at their own game. In fact, the Bulldogs did, 7-6, on May 18. A top seed hasn’t won the region since Dirigo in 2013. Winners since then have been ranked as low as No. 8. 

Prediction: Lisbon.

Class D South

Players to watch: Cameron Watt, Searsport, Sr.; Zach Small, Richmond, Jr.; Jackson Linscott, NYA, So.; Carl Trafton, Rangeley, Sr.; Kyle LaRochelle, Rangeley, Jr.; Jacob Kraske, Buckfield, Sr.; Ethan Jackson, Buckfield, Jr.; Javier Padilla, Forest Hills, Sr.; Brandon Thomas, Valley, Sr.

Favorites: Searsport, Richmond.

Defending champion Searsport and Richmond both faced tough competition this year to earn the top two seeds, just not each other. The Vikings played mostly Northern C and D teams, while the Bobcats lost just one game to Class D opponents and beat C schools St. Dom’s, Old Orchard Beach and Traip. 

Darkhorses: Buckfield, NYA.

The Bucks have a deep lineup and put pressure on opposing defenses, forcing them into costly mistakes. The question is whether they will be able to keep their own mistakes to a minimum. The Panthers were the only D team to beat Richmond. They also split with St. Dom’s and Traip.

Overview: Searsport seeks its third consecutive regional title and hopes to become the first team to three-peat in the region since NYA won four in a row 2002-2005. Whether its the lack of familiarity, or the regular-season competition is just tougher, playing a predominantly Northern Maine schedule has served the Vikings well. Richmond has developed a strong multi-sport rivalry with Searsport in recent years and would love nothing more than to end the Vikings’ streak. The Bobcats have the depth in their lineup and pitching staff to make that happen.

Prediction: Richmond.


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