From the success breeds success department comes the Deer Isle-Stonington baseball program.
The defending Class D state champions are poised to make another deep postseason run this spring after graduating just one senior from last year’s 16-4 team that used extra-inning victories over Shead of Eastport in the Eastern Maine final and Richmond in the state final to win its third state title in the last five years.
And interest in the program within the school is as high as it’s ever been under coach Darren Eaton.
“We’ve got 25 kids out and I couldn’t be happier,” said Eaton, whose team opens its season Wednesday at Searsport. “We’ve got the most kids out in the 13 years I’ve been involved, including nine freshmen.”
One consistent element of the Mariners’ recent success is that players arrive at the varsity level ready to contribute.
Freshmen have played key roles in Deer Isle-Stonington’s championship runs, from first-year pitcher Collin Ciomei earning a 3-2 win over North Yarmouth Academy in the 2005 state final to the contributions of freshmen Joe Condon and Jake Starkey last spring.
“These kids play baseball all the way up through,” said Eaton. “They play T-ball, then Little League, then junior high and Junior League and Senior League. These kids play a lot of baseball.”
Deer Isle-Stonington figures to get a boost from the freshman class again this spring, with pitcher-catcher Connor Morey, pitcher-shortstop Sam Grindle and first baseman Hayden Ciomei all capable of making major contributions.
But there are also plenty of veterans with championship game experience to lead the way, particularly senior pitcher-shortstop Evan Rollins and senior right fielder Joe Carter.
Carter is one of three seniors in the outfield, along with center fielder Jay Boyce and left fielder Jon Lymburner.
“We’ve got six seniors who were there in ‘07 and got a taste of it and then were keys for us last year, they’ve been in some playoff wars,” said Eaton. “But we haven’t been able to repeat yet, and it will be a Herculean task to get back to that point.”
The team’s lone graduation loss from last spring was significant, as Eben Powers was the team’s pitching ace as well as an offensive and defensive catalyst.
But Eaton is hopeful the returning players and newcomers will provide enough run production to compensate for any on-the-job development facing the pitching staff.
“Offensively we can hit and make some things happen,” he said. “We’ve got good speed, we can put on a lot of pressure.”
Baseball dates to remember
With the 2010 high school baseball season gradually getting under way throughout the state, here are some other dates to keep in mind this spring.
The last countable games are scheduled for about six weeks away on June 2, followed by preliminary-round playoff contests on June 8. Regional quarterfinals follow on June 10, with the semifinals on Saturday, June 12, and the Eastern Maine finals on June 15-16.
The Eastern A final will be at 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 15, at Morton Field in Augusta., while the Class C final will be at 7 p.m. that evening at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor.
The Eastern B and D finals will be on Wednesday, June 16, in Bangor, with the D game at 3 p.m. and the B game to follow at 7.
State championship Saturday is June 19. The Classes B and D state finals will be held at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor, with the B game at 11 a.m. and the D contest at 4 p.m.
The Classes A and C state championship games are set for Saint Joseph’s College in Standish, with the Class A game at noon and the Class C game at 5 p.m.