Vikings are diamond gem hopefuls
DANFORTH, Maine — A pair of veteran East Grand coaches are hoping to take their respective squads to the next level this spring as the Vikings gear up for, what is hoped, will be another strong baseball and softball campaign.
Shaun Beaudoin enters his 10th season as the head coach of the Viking softball team, while Rex Crocker is beginning his eighth season with the East Grand baseball squad.
In softball, the Vikings have the luxury of returning everyone from last year’s squad that finished 8-5 in the regular season, which was good enough for the No. 7 seed and a home preliminary playoff berth. East Grand defeated No. 10 Highview Christian Academy, 16-4 in a slugfest, but was then shutout 11-0 by No. 2 Penobscot Valley in the quarterfinals.
“They should be a competitive bunch,” coach Beaudoin said. “We have all but one of last year’s starters back.”
Members of the Viking softball team are: seniors Haleigh Shay (pitcher), Emili Russell, Kianna Caissie (third base), Amanda Massey and Nikki Simon; juniors Mallory Gilman (catcher) and Jennifer Crone (shortstop); sophomore Jordyn Cowger (second base); and freshmen Natalie Golding, Faith Lindsey and Emma Griffiths.
“We are working on a much stronger outfield and our pitching needs to last all season,” the coach said. “Our hitting should continue to improve.”
The Vikings could be one of the stronger hitting teams, as several players had a .360 batting average or better.
Accumulating enough points to move up the standings in Class D North may prove difficult for the Vikings as the softball team only has 11 games on its schedule.
In baseball, coach Crocker’s squad is looking to improve on last year’s 5-8 campaign. That record was still good enough for the team to qualify for the postseason as the No. 12 seed in Class D North. The Vikings faced No. 5 Hodgdon in the preliminary round, falling 17-7.
Coach Crocker would like to see his team compile an 8-4 record, which would give East Grand a home baseball playoff for the first time in several years.
“We have several players who have played together since Little League,” the coach said.
Members of the Viking baseball team include seniors Thomas Gilman, Trevor Noyes, Lendin Stoddard, Matthew Potter, Brady McEwen, Aaron Sixberry and Nathan Lindsey; junior Matt Apgar, sophomore Noah Sixberry; and freshmen Cole Chmielewski, Benji Gilman and Steve Rowe.
So far, all of the team’s practices have been inside, which has made it difficult to simulate in-game scenarios and fielding fly balls.
East Grand lost three key seniors to graduation — Peter Apgar, Wyatt Oliver and Philip Farley.
The coach added his squad will focus on improving its hitting and fielding once the season begins.
Both teams are tentatively scheduled to begin the season 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, at Woodland.