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Baseball: Monmouth multi-sport athletes have sights set on another state championship

Jun. 7—Monmouth Academy's trophy case has gotten more crowded in the past year, and the baseball team is hungry for another championship.

The Mustangs won the Class C baseball state title in 2023 and carried that momentum into the fall, capturing Class D boys soccer championship, and winter when they earned the Class C boys basketball title.

Many of the baseball players have been part of those other teams, and they want to cap the 2023-24 school year in grand style.

"I think we all think it's very important. We don't want to settle with three in a row," senior Sammy Calder, a member of each of the title teams, said. "We made that decision as a team: We want to try our hardest and go get another one."

The Monmouth baseball team has six players trying to complete the state championship trifecta this school year: Calder, Luke and Jake Harmon, Tyler Johnson, Rory Foyt and Kyle Palleschi.

"It feels amazing to have a great group of guys in every sport we play — baseball, soccer, basketball, it doesn't matter, we all want to compete," Calder said. "We all have good attitudes and mindset towards the game."

The group hasn't shied away from discussing their desire to win another state championship trophy.

"For all sports, our coaches, we all have one goal. It's not the MVC championship — that's why we didn't play in it this past weekend — it's to bring home a gold ball," Luke Harmon said. "That's the expectation now, and where we brought our programs. I think that's definitely our goal. Hopefully we can get it done."

Noah Schultz, a freshman starting catcher who played on the soccer team, said he's fortunate to play with a good group of teammates.

"I have always been kind of watching them," said Schultz, who wrestles and placed fourth in the 144-pound weight class at the Class B state meet this winter. "I was at the baseball state championship game last year, it was amazing to watch. I played in the soccer game a little bit, and I was at the basketball one — that was fun to watch. Yeah, it's great to have a great group of guys that do what they do and win."

Schultz's older brother Sam is also on the team, which helped Noah ease into the group.

"It's an amazing culture," Noah Schultz said. "We are all super close, and I can have a conversation with any of those older kids. I can talk to them, especially the seniors. It's just amazing to have that good of a culture."

Coach Eric Palleschi said at the start of this baseball season, he gave the players a break since so many of them had already played two or three sports.

"Coming into the spring, these kids, they were tired, and we talked about that," Eric Palleschi said. "We talked about how they were tired. We talked about how it's hard to play that high of a level all through the fall, all through the winter, and come into the spring where we won last year. So, the expectations are there. That's the most difficult part. Rather than avoid it, we got out there and said, 'What do you guys need?' We took some time early in the year where we kind of just chilled and gave these guys a little bit of a mental break."

Monmouth (16-1), the top seed in Class C South, will host fifth-seeded Maranacook (12-5) in the C South semifinals Saturday at 7 p.m. at Lewiston High School.

In the quarterfinals, the Mustangs defeated No. 9 Lisbon 9-0 on Wednesday, while Maranacook beat No. 4 Old Orchard Beach 6-2 on Thursday.

"It would be very special," Eric Palleschi said Wednesday of the group of players winning three state titles in one school year. "Obviously, that will be something that's incredible, but whoever we have next, whether it's Old Orchard or Maranacook, both of those teams are well-deserving teams. They are both well-coached."

Monmouth defeated Maranacook 15-2 in the teams' only meeting of the regular season on May 13.

Eric Palleschi said the success of last season's state championship run is rubbing off on the players.

"We see our guys more focused," Eric Palleschi said. "A lot more focused and a lot more relaxed. Very soft eyes, very calm hands, you don't see those guys clinching, or you don't see the big eyes. They seem very relaxed. It's like, we have been here."

Being the No. 1 seed helps them focus.

"We use it to motivate us to stay locked in," Calder said. "We know every team wants to beat us."

Eric Palleschi said all of the teams left in the Class C postseason will provide a stiff challenge, and the Mustangs are aware they must achieve smaller goals to get to the bigger goal.

"Win your last game is something we have talked about a lot here," senior Luke Harmon said. "We started last season (saying), 'Win your last game.' That's our goal for the season."

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