The prognostication process for high school baseball in Eastern Maine is quite unlike that for other sports.
While the best teams generally win in football or basketball, for example, the dominance of a single player — the starting pitcher — can humble a potent batting order on a given day, and if that comes during the playoffs the most promising of seasons can come to a screeching halt.
Something like that happened last spring to undefeated Bangor High School, which ran into a crafty pitching performance by Tyler Desjardins and a nearly flawless effort by his Brewer teammates in the regional semifinals to advance the Witches to the Eastern Maine Class A title game while sending the Rams home unfulfilled.
That’s just one example of the unpredictability in forecasting the national pastime at any level — just look at your Red Sox.
Nevertheless, your intrepid swami offers one early look at what to expect in Eastern Maine baseball circles this spring.
Class A: Bangor is seeking its first regional title since 2007, and it’s fairly easy to make a case for coach Jeff Fahey’s club. The Rams did have an undefeated regular season last spring, and the roster is stocked by the experienced fruits of an American Legion team that reached the state tournament and a Senior League squad that merely played for the world championship. Joe Stanevicz is one of the top pitchers around, and Dylan Morris provides leadership from behind the plate.
Other contenders should include Brewer, Lawrence of Fairfield, Cony of Augusta and Lewiston.
The champ: Bangor.
Class B: Waterville is the reigning state champion, and while the leader of that team, Josh Gaudette, is now playing at Husson, plenty of talent remains. The Purple Panthers will feature pitchers Tim Locke and Kyle Bishop and a lineup that includes veterans J.T. Whitten and Cam Sawyer.
Among Penobscot Valley Conference entries, perennial contender Bucksport also boasts a talented 1-2 pitching tandem in Tyler French and Evan Eldridge, while Old Town returns an experienced cast led by senior Casey Estes, a four-year starting pitcher for coach Dave Utterback’s Coyotes.
The champ: Waterville.
Class C: Calais may have won its first regional championship since 1992 a year ahead of schedule, given that 12 of the 15 players on that roster are not only back, but still are just juniors and sophomores. Coach Kenny Murphy’s Blue Devils are looking to develop pitching depth behind junior Adam Geel, and will again rely on a speed-oriented attack that features Geel and classmate Jeremy Beers.
Challengers to Calais’ title status could include Penobscot Valley of Howland, George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill, Lee Academy and Searsport.
The champ: Calais.
Class D: History suggests this will be Deer Isle-Stonington’s year, given that the Mariners have won the state title in this division in each of the last three odd-numbered seasons — 2005, 2007 and 2009. Coach Darren Eaton’s club does return a talented corps of underclassmen that gained considerable experience while reaching the regional final last spring.
There’s also the defending champion, Central Aroostook of Mars Hill, with its own experienced nucleus. The health of senior Logan McLaughlin, who had off-season back surgery, will be a key to the Panthers’ success.
Katahdin of Stacyville, the 2008 regional champion, returns nearly all of its lineup from a year ago including pitcher Brandon Robinson, while Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook and Shead of Eastport seemingly are always in the hunt.
The champ: Katahdin.