Even though the calendar says spring has arrived, there was certainly a nippy, winter-like feeling in the air Monday.
However, inside Bangor High School, there were signs of the season amidst Red Barry Gymnasium, with softballs popping into mitts and athletes running laps around the perimeter of the basketball court.
Even though preseason practices for spring sports teams don’t officially start for another week, the state’s softball and baseball teams were allowed to bring in five pitchers and five catchers for workouts starting Monday.
The bulk of the preseason workouts for softball, baseball, track and field and tennis commence on March 30.
After riding a young nucleus to the Eastern Maine Class A championship game a year ago, Bangor is certainly expecting to get back to that plateau this spring, and perhaps go even further.
Junior pitcher Sam Bedore, who had an outstanding sophomore campaign for the Rams, ultimately has lofty goals for herself and her teammates.
“I’m hoping to do a lot better this year and carry my team a littler further than we got last year, hopefully get that state championship,” said Bedore.
Bedore is one of the top pitchers statewide, and she’s hoping off-season work contributes to potential success.
“I actually played all year down at Frozen Ropes in Portland so that helps a lot,” said Bedore, who noted that her arm strength is up to par.
“I’m feeling good,” she said. “I think I’ll do better than last year. I’ve been working more on my riseball and a screw but other than that just trying to get better at my other pitches.”
For now, Bedore and her teammates will be focusing on conditioning and working their way into softball shape.
Coach Don Stanhope’s Rams graduated only four seniors from last year’s squad, and should be a legitimate contender for the Eastern Maine crown.
Bangor fell to Brewer in last year’s regional final en route to that school’s first state softball championship.
Witches to practice at Bangor
The good news for the Brewer High outdoor track program is that in a couple of years, the Witches will have a new home facility.
The bad news is that Brewer will be without a home for a couple years while the new track facility and elementary school are constructed.
However, the Witches have a practice facility to call home this spring, as they’ll hold workouts at Bangor’s Cameron Stadium.
Brewer will generally practice there daily from 4:30 p.m. to 6, after Bangor’s practices conclude while the Witches will share the facility with John Bapst.
Since all three programs have solid relationships with one another, the decision was a fairly easy one.
“What it came down to was we have a good relationship with Bangor and [Bangor athletic director Steve] Vanidestine,” said Brewer coach Jamerson Crowley, whose team held its preseason informational meeting Monday with practices set to begin next week.
Crowley added that Bangor’s staff and John Bapst coach Bruce Pratt were generous in letting the Witches use the facility.
The coach also noted that certain groups won’t be on the track every day. For example, the distance runners may only do a couple speed workouts a week while jumping pits and throwing facilities and cages could be shared.
“It’ll be kind of similar to what we do in indoor,” Crowley said, referring to winter practices at the University of Maine field house where a throng of teams generally practice simultaneously.
Brewer won’t be on the track when preseason camp opens, but with its first meet set for April 17th in Belfast, the Witches would prefer to get on the track as quickly as possible.
“The second week we plan to be on if everything works out,” said Crowley.
PVC schedule released
The first Penobscot Valley Conference high school track meet is exactly one month from today.
The conference released its 2009 schedule recently, which kicks off April 24 with a multi-team meet at Hampden followed by meets at Mount Desert Island in Bar Harbor and Orono a day later.
Girls contenders Bangor and Brewer will face off twice during the regular season while the Hampden boys have one meet apiece with Bangor and Brewer.
The MDI Relays will be held two weeks before the league championship meets on May 16.
Bangor and Foxcroft Academy will host the respective large and small school championship meets this year, with the Class A-B meet at Cameron Stadium May 29 and the Class C meet a day later in Dover-Foxcroft.