The Nokomis Warriors were new to the world of Maine high school sports last winter, as five-star inductee Cooper Flagg and twin brother Ace led the Newport school boys’ basketball team to the first Class A state championship in program history.
The Flag twins play AAU basketball nationally this spring, but the Nokomis baseball team is starting to make its own headlines with a good 9-3 record for a top four finish in the latest North Heal Class B points rankings.
“We have a good little baseball team,” said Year Two coach Jeff Chretien.
Nokomis returned from the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown last spring and finished the regular season with a record 5-11 while playing a dominant Class A regional schedule that included clashes with North Champion Bangor and North Finalist Skowhegan as well as Brewer, Hampden Academy and Messalonskie from Auckland.
The Warriors then overturned No. 4 Belfast 4-2 in the Class B Northern preliminary round before knocking out in the quarterfinals of No. 5 Mount Desert Island 7-6 in 11 rounds.
“These kids were always doing well in Little League and middle school and JV, and then they missed their sophomore year of college, so last year we had no college experience and we were really young last spring,” Chretien said.
“I think last year really opened their eyes to improving and working even harder for this season.”
Nokomis has been in several tough situations already this season, with six of his wins coming in three runs or less – including five during the team’s current winning streak with seven in their last eight games.
“I think this is a self-confident group,” Chretien said. “They have been waiting for their first year for a long time. They missed one year [in 2020 due to the COVID-19 cancellation of the season]But they’ve been playing together for a long time. I’ve coached most of these seniors since T-ball, and they’re an exceptional group.”
Senior Cody Chretien, the coach’s son and one of four members of the school’s championship basketball team who now plays baseball, was the team’s soccer player as well as a quarterback who excels in the Warriors lineup, although he is currently struggling with an injury. His father hopes he will be able to return to work soon.
Other Warriors shooters include two other sophomore basketball players Connor Sides and senior Mason Hopkins as well as Jacob Neumayer, while Hopkins, Sides and third-year captain Mike Scharf are other offensive catalysts and senior Hunter Upton is a key defensive presence at the center field.
“Sometimes we struggle on the board, this is baseball, but there is no real weakness for a bowler to have a break,” coach Chretien said of his team’s hitting system. “When it goes down to six, seven, eight and nine in order, it’s as good as one to five. It’s a very tough lineup.”
The Nokomis is now idle until Tuesday when the Warriors visit Hermon, providing the Warriors with a little breather before they prepare to try to replay the baseball program’s first regional championship since 1982.
“It’s going to come down to how the promotion performs,” Chretien said. “We have a really good defense. We have good bats. It will come down to promotion.”
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