March 19, 2013

COLLEGE BASEBALL: Duncklee looking foward to returning to field for Mules

By Gary Hawkins ghawkins@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

After spending most of his life going from one sports season to another, Colby College sophomore Luke Duncklee can't wait to get back into action.

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TIME TO GO: Colby College’s Luke Duncklee batted .356 with 11 RBIs and stealing 11 bases in 12 attempts. Duncklee, a Cony High School graduate, is returning from a broken fibula he suffered during football season.

Contributed photo

COLBY COLLEGE SPRING CAPSULES

Baseball

Coach: Dale Plummer

Last season: 16-17

Key players: OF Jason Buco (So.), OF Luke Duncklee (So.), P Brady Kesselin (Sr.), P Lucas Geoghegan (Jr.), P Mark Nelson (Sr.), OF Jake Kramer (Sr.), P Nate Sugarbaker (Sr.), P Dakota Rabbitt (Jr.)

Outlook: The Mules return a solid pitching staff and a strong trio of outfielders which should put them among contending teams in the New England Small College Athletic Conference. Kesselin won three games and posted a team-low 3.54 ERA while Geoghegan went 3-0 and Rabbitt won three games. Buco, an all-NESCAC selection, and Duncklee each had strong first seasons in the outfield for the Mules.

Softball

Coach: Kristina Katon

Last season: 12-20

Key players: 3B Brianne Wheeler (Jr.), OF Lindsay Peterson (Sr.), OF Carolyn Bennett (So.), IF/OF Meaghan Lewia (So.), P Megan Michie (So.), P Aimee Polimeno (Jr.)

Outlook: Wheeler led the team in hitting at .365 and RBIs with 26 while Peterson batted .344 and Bennett .323. The pitching should be solid with the return of Michie, who posted a 3.02 ERA and team-best five wins, and Polimeno who posted three victories.

Men’s tennis

Coach: Doanh Wang

Last season: 12-7, 3-5 NESCAC

Key players: Jason Ottomano (Jr.), Jack Bryant (Jr.), Sam Bachelder (Jr.), Matthew Mantikas (Sr.). Matt Carroll (Jr.).

Outlook: The Mules return enough talent to challenge for one of the six NESCAC playoff berths. Ottomano recorded eight wins at second singles a year ago and is expected to move to the No. 1 spot. He also posted 10 wins at first and second doubles. Bryant went 10-7 a year ago and could move into the No. 2 position while Bachelder led the team in wins at 16-3 at third and fourth singles.

Women’s tennis

Coach: Doanh Wang

Last season: 10-8, 2-5 NESCAC

Key players: Sarah Weiner (Sr.), Mckenzie Love (Sr.), Sally Holmes (Sr.), Alex McAuliff (Sr.), Tess Perese (Jr.), Victoria Abel (Jr.), Holly Bogo (Fr.)

Outlook: The Mules return a lot of experience, including Weiner, who played first singles and doubles, and Perese at second singles. Love posted a 12-4 record at the No. 6 singles position while Abel played in the fifth spot last year. Colby defeated Merrimack 8-1 in its season opener.

Men’s lacrosse

Coach: Justin Domingos

Last season: 9-5

Key players: M Ian Deveau (Sr.). M Greg McKillop (Sr.), A John Jennings (Sr.), D Bjorn Knutson (Sr.), G Peter Reiley (Jr.)

Outlook: The Mules are off to a 2-1 start and ranked No. 7 in New England. Deveau was named All-American last season after scoring 25 goals and 18 assists. Jennings also returns after scoring a team-high 33 goals a year ago. So far this season, Deveau has 12 goals and Jennings 11. McKillop aded 15 goals and 20 assists last year while Knuton and Reiley return to anchor the defense.

Women’s lacrosse

Coach: Karen MacCrate Henning

Last season: 15-5

Key players: M Kate Pistel (Jr.), M Claire Donegan (Sr.), Lindset McKenna (Jr.), A Sarah Lux (Jr.), A Katie Griffin, (Jr.), A  Katharine Eddy (Jr.).

Outlook: The Mules return eight of their top 10 scorers, including McKenna, who led the team in goals with 43 and was named NESCAC rookie of the year. They are ranked No. 7 in Division III and opened the season with a 10-7 win against No. 8 Amherst. Pistel is Colby’s top defender and one of the best all-around players in the country. The Mules have played in five straight NESCAC title games.

Women’s track and field

Coach: Deb Aitken

Last season: 5th in NESCAC

Key athletes: Brittany Reardon (Jr., hurdles, pole vault), Brittney Bell (Sr., 400, 1,600 relay), Laura Duff (Sr., mid-distance), Morgan Lingar (Sr., mid-distance), Monica Davis (Sr., sprints, mid-distance), Abbott Matthews (Jr., throws), Berol Dewdney (Sr., mid-distance), Kate Connolly (Jr., mid-distance), Frances Onyilagha (Jr., 200 meters), Emily Doye (Fr., sprints), Emily Tolman (Fr., sprints).

Outlook: The Mules, who host the New England Division III championships in May, have veterans at many events. Sprinters Doyle and Tolman both earned All-American honors during the indoor season along with Bell and Onyilagha by finishing fourth in the 1,600 relay.

Men’s track and field

Coach: Jared Beers

Last season: 8th in NESCAC

Key athletes: Dom Kone (Sr., sprints), Brian Desmond (Sr., distance, steeplechase), John Gilboy (Sr., throws), Luke Doherty Munro (Sr., mid-distance), Dylan Nisky (Jr., mid-distance), Matt White (Jr., mid-distance), Justin Owumi (Jr., hurdles), Jeff Hale (So., distances, steeplechase).

Outlook: Kone is the defending national champion in the 100 meters and a team captain along with Desmond. Kone tweaked his hamstrong in the indoor season and did not get to defend his 60-meter national title, but he’ll get a chance this spring at a third national title in the 100.

Crew

Coach: Stew Stokes

Last season: Men, 10th at New Englands, women 16th

Key athletes: Men, Pat Dams (Sr.), Nate Crump (Sr.), Noah Teachey (Sr.). Women, Justine Seraganian (Sr.), Becca Jerman (Jr.), Ally Bolger (Sr.), Molly Clark (Sr.), Molly Coman (Sr.).

Outlook: Adams and Crump lead the varsity B boat on a young roster that features 21 sophomores and freshmen. The women are likewise young with 19 of their 26 team members in their first or second year.

A three-sport standout at Cony High School in Augusta, Duncklee played both football and baseball for Colby his freshman year. His second football season last fall, however, lasted less than one game when he broke the fibula in his lower left leg in the season opener. As baseball season approaches, Duncklee said he's ready to get back into action.

"I'm just about back to 100 percent," he said. "I can't wait. I miss the competition."

The Mules open their season Sunday with a 10-game trip to Auburndale, Fla., and expect to improve on last season's 16-17 record.

"We've got some solid starters back," Duncklee said. "I'm really excited about the season. We look strong and deep."

Duncklee will figure prominently into the team's plans as he moves from right field to center this season and is expected to hit third in the lineup. Last season he got sick during preseason and despite some success, "he never got his groove back," according to coach Dale Plummer.

"It really took a lot out of him," Plummer said. "He looks great. It's just a matter of him getting comfortable."

Duncklee continues to rehabilitate his leg in what has proven to be a longer road back than expected. After his injury he was in a cast for a month, then in a walking boot for another month. That was followed by a month and a half wearing a brace.

"I'm doing a lot of rehab every day," he said. "I can sprint, I'm hitting every day and fielding."

Duncklee hit and fielded well last year, finishing with a .356 batting average, 11 RBIs and stealing 11 bases in 12 attempts. He made just one error in the field but is looking forward to moving to center where he played throughout high school.

"I like being in the outfield and chasing down balls," he said.

Plummer said Duncklee has the green light on the base paths and has challenged him and fellow speedster Jason Buco to take a run at the single season stolen base record. Beyond that, Duncklee is a good baserunner.

"He's just got a lot of instinct," Plummer said. "There's some things you can't teach."

Last year he hit near the bottom of the order and realizes he'll see more breaking balls batting third. He's worked with hitting coach Tom Dexter on the mechanical parts of his swing and spent a lot of time in the weight room in the off-season.

"Last year I was kind of a singles hitter," he said. "In the off-season I worked out a lot and put on 15 pounds of weight and a lot of muscle. I feel more power driving through the ball."

Duncklee is one of four players on the baseball team that also play football and one of several athletes in the school who participate in more than one sport. An economics major, he said it does place a premium on his time.

"It's very, very hard," he said. "Some nights you get two or three hours sleep, but it's very rewarding. Having sports helps me maintain a schedule."

Gary Hawkins -- 621-5638

ghawkins@centralmaine.com

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