DOVER-FOXCROFT--- The Foxcroft Academy Ponies baseball team will be hoping to take their success one step further during the 2013 season.
The Ponies won the regional championship by defeating Ellsworth, MDI, Camden Hills and Waterville in the 2012 class B tournament.
The Ponies fell short of bringing the first baseball state title to Foxcroft when they fell 2-0 against Falmouth.
With Ryan Rebar, Kaleb Smith and Jesse Provost returning at the top of the rotation, the Ponies will be a tough match-up for anyone on their schedule.
"We expect to be a very good team, and we have the same goal we've had the past two years: to deliver Foxcroft Academy its first baseball state title in school history," Foxcroft coach Mark Chevalier said. "We know it won't be easy, but we believe we have the talent and experience to compete with anyone. Our more immediate goal is to finish in the top three of Class B East in order to earn a first-round bye in the postseason. Playing five playoff games in 13 days last year was difficult."
The Ponies senior class have won plenty of big games. The program is 48-9 since they entered Foxcroft Academy.
They had a 33 game regular season winning streak that extended from early in the 2011 season and ended with a loss to John Bapst early in the 2012 season.
"We are built around starting pitching (1.96 team ERA last year), defense, and team speed (98 stolen bases),"Chevalier said. "We also have excellent veteran leadership, and our ten seniors (eight of whom have been with the program since they were freshmen) know how to win close games."
Chevalier added, "It would be difficult to script a more exciting season than we had last year in our return to Class B. We played 10 games decided by two runs or less and five extra-inning games, and we had six come-from behind wins and three walk-off wins. We were 4-4 at the halfway mark, but the kids never gave up and refused to reset their expectations. Our nine-game winning streak down the stretch, culminating with a magical run to the Eastern Maine title, is something that none of us will ever forget."
The toughest part for the Ponies may be the adjustment of playing without Cody Coiley, who was their starting catcher and leader for the past three seasons.
"Replacing Cody Coiley, our starting catcher the last three years, will be very difficult. He was a fixture in the middle of our lineup, a great defensive player, and a tremendous leader,"Chevalier said. "We also lost quality players in Matt Chapman (RF) and Shinsuke Mikame (DH). Another challenge will be living up to high expectations, as we have been able to fly under the radar for much of the past two seasons but don't expect that to continue this year."
The Ponies will open their season with a game at Piscataquis community high school on April 16th. The home opener will be on April 18th against class C contender Dexter. The first game against a class B opponent will be on April 23rd when they host John Bapst.
Key Players/Position (from coach Mark Chevalier)
Ryan Rebar, SP/SS: dominant pitcher (8-1 with 0.67 ERA and 70 Ks in 63 innings in 2012), dynamic offensive player (.364, 16 SB), and tremendous defensive shortstop; should be a Winkin finalist
Kaleb Smith, SP/1B: workhorse (11-3 with 83 innings over past two years) who knows how to get it done on the biggest stage (3 earned runs allowed in 19 career postseason innings); on-base machine at the plate who has a knack for piling up walks and runs
Jesse Provost, SP/1B/RF: very underrated pitcher who can be counted on for a quality start each time out (9-2 with 74 innings over past two years), versatile defender, and a guy who provides speed and pop on the offensive side
Forrest Law, C/IF/RP: incredibly versatile player who is the frontrunner to replace Coiley behind the plate, where he has the toughness, quickness, and arm strength to be one of the best around; powerful hitter who knows how to deliver in the clutch (walk-off hits vs. John Bapst and Ellsworth last year)
Caleb Richard, 2B/SS: top-notch leadoff man (.447 OBP and 22 runs) and outstanding defensive middle infielder; his work ethic, will to win, and high baseball IQ are invaluable to the Ponies
Cameron Fadley, CF: terrific center fielder and dangerous offensive player; hit cleanup for the Ponies in 2012 and finished third on team with 12 RBI despite having somewhat of a down year; has the potential to bounce back with a huge offensive year in 2013
Luke Olson, 3B, 2B, OF: versatile defender earned a starting job with a strong preseason last spring and acquitted himself nicely in his first extended varsity action; showed steady offensive improvement as the year wore on (3 RBI vs Waterville in Eastern Maine title game) and has the potential to hit in the middle of the lineup this year; tremendous attitude and unmatched work ethic
Dan Decker, OF: fiery senior who's shown steady improvement in his four years with the program; will fight to earn playing time in a crowded outfield picture
Hunter Law, LF/RP: superb athlete who can win games with his bat (.373, 15 RBI), legs (18 SB, 19 runs), glove (best defensive LF around), or arm (gunned down runners at the plate in one-run wins over Old Town and John Bapst)
Colby Snell, IF/RP: talented junior with the tools to contribute both as an infielder and as a reliable arm out of the bullpen
Brooks Law, C/OF/RP: versatile sophomore who is ready to help the Ponies in a number of different ways; excellent speed, defensive versatility, and refined offensive approach should help him force his way onto the field after biding his time as a freshman
Clay Carroll, C/OF/1B: strong sophomore who swings the bat well and can play a number of different positions; could earn at bats with a strong preseason
Nick Decker, IF: up-and-coming sophomore who will add much-needed depth to the Ponies' infield; can handle all three key infield spots