After winning state championships in 2006 and 2008 and capturing the Eastern Class C title 2006 through 2008, last year’s 5-11 baseball record hit the Searsport District High School Vikings a bit hard. However, with this being an entirely new season, veteran coach Dave Pepin is looking forward to positive things even though he is not sure what they might be.

“I’m kind of optimistic about our chances this year, about getting back to being competitive again,” seventh-year coach Pepin said.

“It’s wide open this year. We have a really mixed team,” he said. “[Our success] is going to depend a lot on how these young guys mature during the course of the season.”

The Vikings include seniors Evan Kingsbury (pitcher, shortstop), Josiah Brazier (catcher, third base) and Charlie Larrabee (first base); juniors Allen Connor (shortstop, pitcher), Rocky Faunce (pitcher, first base) and Jacob Allenwood (designated hitter); sophomores Shane Seekins (second base), Theo LeBlanc (right field) and Robbie Coulombe (outfield); and freshmen Buddy Ellis (center field), PJ Woitko (left field), James Harvey (pitcher), Alex Carroll (catcher), Darren Harriman (outfield) and Zachary Beaudry (outfield).

The team lost Matt Bagley to graduation.

So far, Pepin’s team has set three goals: to make into the top 10 for the playoffs, to make top six to get a bye in the prelim round of the postseason and to make top four to host a playoff game.

“Of course, I’m always expecting big things because when you play in six out of seven championship games, you expect to get back there, but we are a ways away from that, that’s for sure.”

Pepin said the team’s strength is its pitchers. “That’s what we are counting on: pitching wins,” he said. “I would say pitching and defense hopefully going to be our strong suit and, you know, we always play small ball, try and put pressure on the other teams and we are not going to change what’s been successful.”

So far, he said that he would like to see more improvement in hitting, something that even the last few years’ teams needed. “We’ve been working on fundamentals and hoping the hitting will come along as the season progresses,” he said.

His biggest challenge will be his tough competition. According to Pepin, Washington Academy and Foxcroft Academy will be top on of the Eastern Class C list but “we don’t have an easy game on our schedule,” he said.

However, according to Pepin, with work his team could make a comeback this year and become a top Eastern Class C squad to get themselves back in strong playoff contention.

The Vikings open the regular season on Monday, April 19 at Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft.

Village NetMedia Sports Reporter Frederick Freudenberger can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at fritz@villagesoup.com.