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Dirigo Cougar baseball preview
DIXFIELD -- A new year creates new challenges and there are certainly numerous questions surrounding the Dirigo baseball team, who realize this current group needs to find its own identity.
The new faces will set several goals and to work hard because the spring season is very short. The Cougars have four returning lettermen, led by seniors Arik Fenstermacher (pitcher, centerfielder), Spencer Ross (shortstop, second baseman) and Justin Conant (catcher, outfield). Junior Ben Holmes (pitcher, third Base) will be counted on heavily also.
The gauge was increased because last year’s team went 14-2 during the regular season, and 18-2 overall, including winning the Class C state championship with a 4-2 over Calais.
The Cougars have been extremely competitive in the Mountain Valley Conference (64-16), so the strengths of the current team will be important.
There are holes to fill after graduating Eric Bolduc (catcher), Tyler Chiasson (third base), Tyler Gates (second base), David Guildford (first base), Ryan Lafleur (pitcher, outfield), Cliff Turner (outfield), Brodie Thompson (outfield).
“As a coaching staff, we have to realize that we lost seven starters from last year's state championship team,” said new coach Ryan Palmer, who took over for Dave Lafleur following four seasons at Mount Abram. “So we can’t set the bar too high. Patience is a virtue.”
Fenstermacher will be the ace of an untested pitching staff. He has looked strong in workouts and will be joined by Holmes. A third starter and a dependable reliever must emerge.
Promising newcomers include junior Cody St. Germain (pitcher, first base); sophomores Robbie Babb (pitcher, outfield), Spencer Trenoweth (pitcher), Chad Snowman (pitcher, infield) and Brett Whittemore (pitcher, utility). Look for Conant and Jake Dowland to share catching duties.
“If we become a team that cuts down on their errors and manufactures runs, the wins will take care of themselves because we have a strong pitching staff,” said Palmer, with new JV coach Scott Underhill.
Promising newcomers are junior Caleb Turner (second base, shortstop) and sophomores TJ Frost (outfield, first base) and Hunter Ross (utility) each have an opportunity to earn playing time.
Palmer said teams to watch are Saint Doms, which is always a winning team due to coach Bob Blackman, Telstar, with a strong nucleus coming back, good pitching and plenty of offense, and Mountain Valley, with young talent and a winning tradition.