This spring definitely is a season of change for the Brewer High School baseball program.
The perennial Class A contenders are now in Class B for at least through the 2019 season based on the school’s enrollment of 659 students when the most recent Maine Principals’ Association reclassification was conducted.
“We only had 26 try out this year so we have 13 on JV and 13 on varsity,” said veteran Brewer head coach Dana Corey. “If we hadn’t had nine or 10 freshmen try out we might not have had two teams so I think we’re where we belong with enrollment.
“People need to be where they belong enrollment-wise but we’re not complaining because we’ve always been competitive against teams with 500 or 600 more students than we have. It would be nice to have a gene pool with 300 or 400 more students, but that’s just the way it shakes down.”
Only one starter, senior shortstop Kobe Rogerson, is back from the 2017 team that finished second in the final Class A North Heal Points.
The Husson University-bound Rogerson is one of just four seniors on the varsity roster along with Ben Byorak, Josiah Cyr and Evan Andrews. They are joined by four juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen.
“We’ve got eight new starters and most of them have never played varsity before,” said Corey. “We’re young but we’re going to come along. We’ll be competitive.”
The Witches already are competitive, with the only blemish on its 3-1 record through Wednesday a 4-1 loss to four-time defending Class A state champion Bangor.
That strong start has come despite Brewer’s inability to play games or practice on its home field yet due to wet conditions. The Witches played their first three home games on Mahaney Diamond at the University of Maine in Orono, and they have yet to conduct an outdoor practice.
Corey admits the lack of outside practice time has slowed his team’s development in some phases of the game.
“We have kids in the outfield who typically have played in the infield all the way up through,” he said, “so it’s been a bit of a transition because it’s harder to go from the infield to the outfield than it is to go from the outfield to the infield.”
Brewer’s schedule consists of two games each against Class A Bangor and Hampden Academy and Class B Winslow and Nokomis and single games against eight other opponents.
“We might know a few kids from Legion ball, but other than that we’re new to each other,” said Corey, whose team is scheduled to play Friday at Lawrence of Fairfield, a fellow Class B baseball newcomer. “But Class B is very competitive, a lot teams are back this year that should be pretty good. I just don’t know them all yet.”
Corey looks forward to maintaining the annual matchups with neighboring Bangor and Hampden.
“It’s good for the teams and it’s good for the communities. You need to try to keep those rivalries when you can,” he said.
Corey said Brewer may return to Class A for baseball in the future based on enrollment trends, but that the lower turnout for the sport at the school this spring may not change.
“Lacrosse is now at our school, and kids who would have been playing Little League etc., have been playing lacrosse for a long time now so the numbers are down,” he said. “We’re probably going to see numbers around 26 to 30 or 32 trying out for baseball pretty much along the way now.
“You go with what you’ve got, coach them up and teach them and hope they do what they can when they’re out on the field.”