Caribou looks to rebound from 2-14 season
CARIBOU, Maine — Three years after winning the school’s first regional championship, the Vikings were in rebuild mode last season. The 2017 team, with only one senior on its roster, struggled throughout and ended up with a 2-14 record.
Caribou has its third head coach in three years in Scott Hunter, who is optimistic the team can return to its winning ways.
Like all the other Aroostook County teams, the Vikings have been confined to a gymnasium since practices began in mid-March. Hunter said they have made the most of their time indoors.
“The workouts have been going really well,” Hunter said. “We have been concentrating on a return to fundamentals, with lots of instruction and getting our pitchers regular work and we are getting as much hitting as we can get in the batting cage.”
Caribou finally was able to get outdoors Saturday with an exhibition doubleheader against Oceanside in Rockland and it gave Hunter a chance to evaluate individuals in game situations.
“We have 18 players, so I’m trying to take a look at everyone in order to come up with our best starting lineup,” Hunter said.
Two seniors and two juniors serve as the veteran captains who have already nailed down starting jobs. Noah Frost and Camden Huck are seniors who pitch and supply power at the plate and will anchor the middle of the lineup. Frost, a right hander, also plays center field and Huck, a hard-throwing lefty, plays first base.
Junior Noah Hixon is back for his third year as the starting catcher, while classmate Alex Ezzy is a slick fielding shortstop.
Most of the other starting roles are still up for grabs. Junior Brandon Poitras is the leading candidate to take over the third base job and senior Dan Randolph is fighting for a corner outfield slot.
Senior Matt Nadeau was injured his sophomore and junior seasons but returns as a first base candidate. Sophomore Hayden Hunter is also in the hunt for innings at first base. Both Nadeau and Hunter are lefties with good offensive skills.
At second base, sophomores Cullin Caverhill and Jacob Berkoski, and junior Jacob Soucy are battling for a primary role. All three possess quickness and good footwork.
Junior Sebastian Marquis is in the hunt to start in the outfield and also is capable of playing several other positions on the field.
Senior Carter Moir and junior Wyatt Taggett back up Hixon behind the plate and each may be utilized as a designated hitter with the extra-base power.
Junior Mason Patten joins the team after spending his first two seasons playing for Limestone/MSSM. He is a 6-foot-5 right handed pitcher who will be one of the top starters.
Junior Jacob Ouellette looks to get time in the outfield, while junior Ghent Durepo plays third base and senior Jacob Marker can play both in the infield and the outfield.
Frost, Huck and Patten are the top starting pitchers, but Poitras, Marquis, Nadeau, Berkoski and Randolph are among the others who will see time on the mound. Soucy, Moir and Durepo also have a chance to contribute.
“Pitching depth is important to us since we play mostly doubleheaders throughout the season, which can tax a pitching staff,” Hunter said. “We have a veteran crew that could hold the key to our success.”
Hunter said he feels the Vikings have the right mix of veteran leadership and younger talent to put together a successful season and make a return to the playoffs.
“We will have to get consistent pitching, play good defense and make the most of our scoring opportunities, but I think we will be competitive in what is a very tough Class B region,” Hunter said.
Seniors Crissy Corbin and Makenzie Conroy and freshman Hannah Tarbox serve as managers and Dan Umphrey, who was the head coach last year, will be Hunter’s assistant. Caribou will open its regular season with a road doubleheader at Hermon Saturday.