Spring Reviews: Gray-New Gloucester

Isabelle Brindley fires a ball across the field in a midseason matchup with Freeport.

NEW GLOUCESTER – With championship season and awards season both behind us, now’s the time to recap the Patriots’ spring. The softball and girls track teams were perhaps the biggest newsmakers in 2017, though the baseball team also took noteworthy steps forward and put up an admirable fight in their last match of the year.

After going 3-13 and missing the playoffs by several slots in 2016, Brad Smith’s boys went 7-9 through the regular season this year and returned to the tournament ranked 12th. 

The Patriots opened their schedule with a narrow win over Wells, and as the weeks passed, they picked up Ws against Poland, Freeport (twice), Kennebunk, Fryeburg and Waynflete, too. Their triumph over Wells is particularly noteworthy, as the Warriors ultimately finished second in B South.

“I think by anyone’s assessment, it was a successful season,” said Smith. “Four more wins than 2016 and a berth in the 2017 tournament. But that only begins to tell the story. It was a rollercoaster season, with ten games decided by three runs or less, with two of those going extra innings and a couple more decided in the sixth or seventh innings.”

In the bracketing first round, however, G-NG found themselves facing five-seed Greely, and while the Patriots hung admirably with the Rangers for the first few innings of the bout, the latter ultimately pulled away for a 6-2 victory.

Smith sounded off proudly: “This was a team that excelled in team defense,” he said. “Certainly, they played the strongest defense of my tenure here as head coach. That unit included Josiah Rottari, John Henry Villanueva, Zack Mann, Eli Winchester and Cam Usher. Our outfielders will say they had one job and one job only: to catch the ball – which they did, led by Tanner Mann, Jake Winchester and Nick Chandler. And you can’t talk defense without mentioning the kid behind the plate. Sophomore Nick McCann caught every game, every inning, every pitch.”

“Together,” Smith said, “this defensive unit supported the efforts of our pitching staff, comprised of Villanueva, Rottari, Zack Mann, Wil Shufelt and Nathaniel Brindley, (all five of whom) gave us solid performances all season long.

“If there’s any bad news about this season, it is that we’re losing seven seniors: outfielders Tanner Mann, Jake Winchester, Chandler, Rodrigues, Brindley, Zack Mann and co-captain John Henry Villanueva. The good news is that practically every returning varsity and junior varsity player will be involved in summer baseball, either at the Senior Legion or Junior Legion.”

Amanda Harmon’s contingent finished well on the plus side of .500 in the regular season, battling to 10-6 – good enough for the six-seed in B South. The Lady Patriots tallied triumphs over Greely (twice), Freeport (twice), Lake Region (twice), Cape Elizabeth, Fryeburg, Traip and Poland. Those wins against the Lady Rangers and the Lady Raiders are especially significant, as Greely finished a slot ahead of G-NG in the standings, at fifth, and Fryeburg finished three full slots up, in third.

Harmon & Co. slipped past No. 11 York 4-3 in the bracketing prelims, then traveled to Fryeburg for a rematch in the quarters. Alas, the second time around, the Lady Raiders got the better of our heroines, dispatching them 3-1. G-NG thus retires till 2018 at 11-7.

Boys Outdoor Track & Field
Todd Mercer’s Gentlemen Patriots posted modest success at States this year, with a couple boys scoring. In particularly, Andrew Peterson finished sixth in the 100, while Joseph Gurney finished sixth in the Shot Put. The boys combined for four points, putting the team in 24th. 

Girls Outdoor Track & Field
Mike Griffin’s girls looked fairly ferocious this spring, taking fifth at States. Madison Post proved the team’s star this time around, taking second in the 100 and first in the 200. The 4×100 squad (comprised of Post, Jaley Martin, Eliza Larrivee and Lindsay Pierce) also won outright, while Emma MacCallum finished seventh in the Discus and third in the Shot Put. 

Adam Birt can be reached at abirt@keepmecurrent.com. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME

Isabelle Brindley fires a ball across the field in a midseason matchup with Freeport.

The Patriots gather at the mound during a midseason matchup with Freeport.