Spring sports: stock up or stock down?

Managing sports editors Jamo Karsten ‘17 and Griffin Golden ‘19 offer their assessment of each spring athletic team’s stock as their seasons begin.

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 Baseball

Bates Baseball is headed into the 2017 campaign with a brand new coach, and little practice time per NESCAC rules. Nevertheless, the Bobcats were able to pick up two wins in five games during their annual trip to California. Because of the unique Bates academic calendar, Bates is the only team in the NESCAC that has played thus far. This should give the Garnet and White a leg up against other NESCAC teams.

The team is coming off a tough season last year, in which they finished 14-21 and did not qualify for postseason play. Outfielder Samuel Warren ‘16, second on the team last year in RBIs, will certainly be missed at the plate this season.

That being said, most of the big hitters on the team will be back. Captains Brendan Fox ‘17 and Ryan McCarthy ‘17 look to lead the team offensively again this year. Fox had a team leading .377 batting average and 25 RBIs in 2016.

A number of the team’s top pitchers were lost to graduation. Connor Columbo ‘17, Rob Difranco, Chris Ward ‘17, Mark Cunningham ‘17, and Warren all had a number of appearances last year.

However, newcomer Coach John Martin feels good about his group of pitchers. “On the mound, we have depth and experience. Some returners, like Connor Speed [‘18] and Connor Russell [‘18] will help anchor a staff that will be tough at the start of the game and also on the back end,” Coach Martin said in an email. “I’ll look to Anthony Telesca and Matt Doyle to have great senior seasons, as both of them threw well on the trip. Newcomers Alex Simon and Miles Michaud should expect to see some innings out of the bullpen.”

Martin comes to Bates from Vassar College, where he is the winningest coach in the program’s history.

The baseball team has a number of notable returners, but there will inherently be an adjustment period with a new coach. Look for the team to pick up steam towards the end of the season.

Stock: EVEN

 Women’s Rowing

The Bates women’s rowing team finished as the national runner up last season. Losing a number of key performers to graduation, this will be a tough act to follow.

But if you take a closer look at the history of Bates rowing, they have had incredible consistency. The Women’s team has been to the 6-team national championship in 10 straight seasons, including a national championship in 2015. There is no reason to believe this streak will end this season.

Look for women’s rowing to make the NCAA championships for the 11th straight season, and compete for a national title.

Stock: Even

 Men’s Rowing

The two biggest races of the spring for the Men’s rowing team are the New England Rowing Championships (NERC), and the National Invitational Collegiate Regatta (NIRC).

Last spring, the team won the NERC for the second straight season. At the NIRC, which doubles as the NESCAC championship, the Bobcats finished in 5th out of 21 teams.

Losing just three members of the first boat to graduation, the team returns much of its core and is poised to race even faster this season.

Look for the Men’s rowing team to win both the NERC and NIRC races.

Stock: Up

 

Women’s Tennis 

Men’s and Women’s tennis coach Paul Gastonguay, back for his 21st season at the helm, said in a recent Bates Bobcast episode, “this is the best team, in terms of training in the off-season we’ve ever had.”

This is high praise for a team that also returns its top three players from last season, a season in which they finished with a disappointing 4-13 record.

So far this year, they have compiled a 2-3 record, including their annual trip to California.

Playing number one singles so far this season is Maisie Silverman ‘18. Meanwhile, newcomer Isabelle Rovinski ‘20 has solidified herself at number two.

With so much returning talent and first years with high potential, the Bates Women’s tennis team should easily eclipse their 4-13 mark last season.

Stock: UP

 Men’s Tennis

The Men’s tennis team compiled a 6-10 record last season, and ended the season ranked no. 24 in the country.

Despite an 0-3 start so far this season, Bates is currently ranked no. 26. Look for them to be continue to be ranked within the top 40 all of 2017.

All of the team’s top talent are back for another season. The team is headlined by Ben Rosen ‘18. Rosen, an All-American and All-NESCAC performer last season, made it to the quarterfinals of the individual national championship. Rosen is backed up by Chris Ellis ‘17, who is also a former All-American (2015).

In addition, Vidyut Vidav ‘20, Jacob Kauppila ‘20, and Nick Glover ‘20 are talented first-years that have already been featured in the lineup this season.

With so much talent, look for the Men’s tennis to get at least 7 wins, and possibly have multiple All-Americans.

Stock: UP

 Softball

Bates’ softball team is entering its fourth season under the leadership of head coach Mckell Barnes. They are coming off a challenging season, in which the team finished with an overall record of 5-32 and did not record a victory in the NESCAC. All five of their victories last year came at home. This year’s team is set for significant improvement. Maddie Inlow ‘17, who hit .392 last year, will anchor the infield and the offense as the lone senior. A bevy of first year talent will augment the roster around Inlow as well.

“Kirsten Pelletier ‘20, from Oakland, ME is someone to keep an eye on,” said Coach Barnes in an email. Pelletier was the 2016 Gatorade Player of the Year in Maine and 2016 Maine Softball Player of the Year during her senior year of high school. She recorded 185 strikeouts in just 105 innings.

“The team has really stepped it up this offseason. Everyone is coming in much stronger and faster than in years past. Something that’s very important, especially when you play eight games in four days,” Barnes said of the team’s mentality during the winter. The softball team travels to Clermont, FL tomorrow to kick off their season with a contest against Haverford. Their home-opener is March 29 against Southern Maine.

Stock: UP

 Men’s Lacrosse

Last year, the men’s lacrosse team fell in the opening round of the NESCAC tournament to Middlebury, and just missed out on an NCAA bid. This year, the elusive invitation to the national stage won’t be any easier to obtain, but it is certainly in Coach Peter Lasagna’s sights as the 2017 season begins.

Lasagna cited in an email returning All-Americans Charlie Fay ‘17 and Fred Ulbrick ‘17 as players to watch in the upcoming season, along with midfielder Kyle Weber ‘17 and first year Matt Chalastawa ‘20. According to Lasagna, Weber “is as capable as any midfielder in the country.” Lasagna also suggested that emerging senior Andrew Melvin ‘17 “will have his best year as a senior” this year. Sam Francis ‘17 performing steadily on face-offs will also serve as the eternal x-factor for the Bobcats. Additionally, Lasagna mentioned Mitchell Drake ‘19 as a key player to watch as the new starter in goal, and Stephen Bull ‘19 on the close defense who in his words “one of the most hardworking, fit students on our team.”

Lasagna also pointed to Bates’ strength and conditioning coach, Mike Seltzer, as a key cog in his team’s preparation this go-around. “Mike Seltzer provides us a significant edge in January and early February,” Lasagna said in the email. “Our people are better athletes, more confident performers because of Coach Seltzer’s foundation. His Kinetic Stretch program was new for us this season. Our people believe “Kin Stretch” is a game changer for them.”

This year’s team serves as an enticing ‘UP’ option, but an 11-4(7-3) performance last year is impressive, and any team playing in the NESCAC (except Tufts) is hard-pressed to put up similar marks year to year. Look for this year’s team to play everyone on their schedule competitively, finish above .500 in the NESCAC, but just miss out on another NCAA bid. I hope they prove us wrong.

Stock: EVEN

 Women’s Lacrosse

Last year’s women’s lacrosse team qualified for the NCAA tournament for just the second time in program history, the first time since 1994, and the first time under coach Brett Allen. Allen is entering his 11th season at the helm of the program, and is set for another impressive year.

This year’s team features a trio of seniors who are set for breakout seasons. Drew Barry ‘17, Sydney Cowles ‘17 and Kaileigh Maguire ‘17 all scored 10+ goals last year, and will have to help fill the void left by Moriah Greenstein ‘16 and Emma Brinkman ‘16, two of the team’s top three goal scorers last year. Maguire and Barry will serve as the senior captains alongside classmate Erin Shea ‘17. Camille Bellette ‘18 will also have to shoulder some of the scoring load if this team is going to return to its 2016 form. Another interesting plot line to follow will be how well they can replace All-American goalie Hannah Jeffrey ‘16.

This one is another hard decision. The women’s team could very well be one of the best teams of the spring this year, but the bar of their successful season last year is just a little too high. This team will be competitive in the NESCAC all-season long, but will just miss out on another NCAA bid.

Stock: DOWN

 Men’s Track & Field

Last year’s men’s outdoor track and field finished 3rd at their ECAC meet, and 82nd at NCAA’s. Long-time coach Al Fereshetian will look to continue his steady guidance of the men’s team. Weather always serves as a challenge, especially transitioning from the climate-controlled indoor tracks the team has been competing on to the blustery conditions of a New-England spring.

The highlight of the indoor season for the men has been their performance in the distance medley relay. The group of four includes Patrick Griffin ‘17 running the 1,200 meter leg, Mike Somma ‘19 running the 400 meter leg, Rob Flynn ‘18 pacing the 400 meter bit, and Jack Kiely ‘18 legging out the 1,600 meter finish. This cohort of runners have already set the Bates school record with a spry time of 9:49.74, which is also serves as the 6th fastest DMR time in indoor DIII history. Following these four in their outdoor efforts will be the most important plotline to look out for this spring.

This men’s team has illustrated their depth with impressive performances during the winter. This team will do no better than 3rd at ECAC’s again, but will improve on last year’s finish at the national meet, and for that their stock gets our stamp of approval.

Stock: UP

 Women’s Track & Field

Coach Jay Hartshorn, in her 11th season as head coach of Bates’ women’s cross country and track and field programs, was awarded NESCAC coach of the year this past fall for her steady leadership and guidance. Her work has continued during the indoor season, where records are falling left and right, toppled by Bates runners seemingly every weekend. She has high hopes for the outdoor season this spring.

“We will have a lot of positive momentum going from indoors to outdoors,” she said in an email. “I think we might be a better outdoor team, we were last year. Indoor is tough as it is short so if you get sick or injured, it can be hard to get back on track. I am looking forward to the next month of just training for the outdoor people and then seeing what we can do once we start competing at the end of March.” If the indoor season is any indication, this spring’s group of athletes will continue their high level of performance.

As the ultimate measure of their success, how they finish at their final meets of the season, anticipate the women to make a push for an ECAC meet victory, and improve on their 68th place finish at nationals this spring.

 

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