WESTBROOK — With the spring season complete, with awards season behind us, the moment is opportune: Let’s take a look back at Westbrook’s performances on the baseball and softball fields, lax fields, tennis courts and the track in 2017.
In short: The Blazes didn’t, collectively, record their best year; still, there were bright spots, and those are worth highlighting.
Greg Souza’s contingent went 3-0 to begin the season, looking strong against the likes of Sanford, Marshwood and Massabesic. They then suffered their first defeat at Scarborough, before picking up another win, this one over Windham. They followed that with a pair of narrow losses to highly-ranked teams, 10-9 at Cheverus and 2-1 hosting Gorham. On the whole, the Blazes were showing great promise.
But they stumbled a bit as the season went along: After topping Biddeford 3-0, they dropped six straight, not winning again until their penultimate contest, vs. Sanford. In the end, they missed the postseason by just a hair, finishing in 13th at 6-10.
Pete Lyons’s boys faced some serious hurdles in 2017. For one, graduation last year claimed a long list of critical athletes, hobbling the team across the field. The were left, for instance, with essentially nil experience in goal. Moreover, the Blazes drew a tough schedule, featuring many of the top teams in the state, including Scarborough, Thornton, South Portland, Gorham and Cheverus. Westbrook did score a W in their lone gimme of the spring, against Noble, although even that matchup proved more grueling than the Blazes would’ve liked: They prevailed by just one goal, 10-9.
Westbrook’s postseason aspirations expired permanently in a late-season, overtime loss to Windham, 15-14.
“Offensively, the team struggled with consistency, but featured occasional flashes of brilliance,” Lyons said, “led by team MVP Grayson Post (36 goals, 10 assists). Hard-working faceoff middie Jared Grant and defenseman Jay Marean contributed leadership in the middle of the field and at close D respectively, and join Post and attackman Ryan Shackley in providing optimism for the 2018 season.”
Kevin Roy’s girls also struggled this spring. The team went just 1-11, their lone W coming against Oxford Hills, the last-place squad in A North.
The Lady Blazes, however, lost by just one to both Noble, a 4-3 result, and Deering, a 7-6 result. If the team can maintain their focus on improving, even in the face of a discouraging record, they will start to see results in time.
Eddie St. John’s softballers tallied four wins to 12 losses in 2017. The Lady Blazes triumphed 12-6 over Sanford, 15-7 over Cheverus/North Yarmouth, 7-1 over Biddeford and 15-3 over Deering. Westbrook’s victory vs. Biddeford was perhaps the high point of their season, as it was a solid upset; the No. 11 Tigers went 7-10 on the year.
Alas, Westbrook couldn’t, ultimately, wiggle their way into the tournament. They’ll have another go at the goal in 2018.
Sam Johnson’s squad, upstarts last year, continued to impress in 2017, bringing home Ws against No. 11 Bonny Eagle, No. 16 Sanford, No. 12 South Portland, No. 6 Deering, No. 13 Massabesic and No. 15 Marshwood. That put them at 6-6 for the regular season and earned them the tournament nine-seed.
The Blazes took to the court at No. 8 Gorham in the playoff prelims. The Rams, however, claimed victory that day, 4-1, sending Westbrook to the sidelines till next year. Expect another strong run from them then.
Mike Makin’s girls struggled this season, failing to win a match and finishing in last place in A South. The Lady Blazes did log a couple close calls toward the end of the season, falling just 3-2 to No. 13 Massabesic (the Lady Mustangs weren’t half-bad, at 4-8) and 3-2 to No. 14 Maine Girls’ Academy (3-9). Perhaps that portends a step in the right direction for the unit.
Boys outdoor track
Claton Conrad’s lineup turned in an excellent season, capped off with a fourth-place performance at States. There, the Blazes grabbed a single individual crown – Josh Lombardo won the 1600 after an epic shootout with Bonny Eagler Caleb Pendleton – and a trio of second-place finishes, Shammah Gahomera taking silver in both the 110 and 300 Hurdles and Dominic Creenan doing the same in the Long Jump. Lombardo and Gahomera were seniors this year, but Creenan will return, still hungry, in 2018.
Girls outdoor track
Angela Lally’s lineup looked strong this spring as well, finishing comfortably in the front half of the pack at States, where they took ninth. Nyagoa Bayak won both the High Jump and Triple Jump titles to spearhead the effort. Bayak, just a sophomore, will return next year (and the year after!) to continue showing off her stuff, as will a number of other important contributors – like Quincey Lyden, who took fifth in the 400 as a freshman.
Adam Birt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME
Camryn LaPierre arrives home for the Lady Blazes in a midseason bout with Bonny Eagle.
Landon Sjoberg returns a ball for the Blazes.