March 18, 2019

Norton is top AE rookie

The University of Maine baseball team, which has eclipsed 35 wins for the third consecutive season, has placed seven players on the All-America East team announced during Wednesday night’s league awards dinner in Burlington, Vt., where the conference tournament begins today.

Senior second baseman Brett Ouellette, senior designated hitter Alain Picard, senior third baseman Joe Drapeau of Biddeford, junior pitcher Mike Collar of Scarborough, and junior outfielder Simon Williams of Portland all earned first-team recognition.

Sophomore catcher Aaron Izaryk and senior outfielder Mike Livulpi were second-team picks.

Freshman pitcher Greg Norton of South Portland was honored as the America East Rookie of the Year. He is joined on the All-Rookie squad by freshman outfielder Ryan Quintal.

Vermont swept the other three big individual honors. Shortstop Bobby Tewksbary was named the player of the year, senior righthander Jamie Merchant was the pitcher of the year, and Bill Currier was the coach of the year for the second straight season.

Norton follows in the footsteps of teammates Collar and Drapeau in gaining rookie-of-the-year recognition. The poised righthander owns a 7-1 record with a 2.97 earned run average, the lowest among UMaine’s regulars.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder has logged three complete games, striking out 57 and walking 17 in 66 2/3 innings.

Ouellette’s senior season made him a legitimate player-of-the-year candidate. He led the team and ranked fourth in AE with a .352 average, tied for the team lead with 10 home runs, and was 2nd in the conference with 45 RBIs. His 62 hits were tops in the conference.

In the field, the steady Ouellette committed 13 errors in 201 chances. Ouellette, who is riding an 18-game hitting streak, scored 44 times.

Despite being unable to catch after undergoing offseason arm surgery, Picard caught the coaches’ eyes in his DH role. He hit .332 with six homers and a team- and league-best 50 RBIs and stole nine bases for the Bears.

Picard posted 19 multiple-hit games and 16 multiple-RBI performances.

Collar continues to prove himself one of the most successful pitchers in school history. He boasts a 7-3 record with a 3.48 ERA and leads America East with six complete games.

Collar has fanned a league-best 93 batters in 75 innings and has walked only nine batters, an incredible 10-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. He was a first-teamer last season and was the rookie of the year in 2001.

Drapeau closes his UMaine career with his fourth all-conference honor. He has been named to the first and second teams twice each in four seasons and was the top rookie in 2000.

Drapeau ended the regular season with a .299 batting mark that included 10 homers, 33 RBIs and 12 doubles. Playing mostly at third, he committed only seven errors in 51 games.

Williams overcame offseason shoulder surgery and an early-season leg injury to repeat as a first-team outfielder. He hit .310 with three home runs and 17 RBIs, scored 33 runs and stole eight bases.

Izaryk is the second-team catcher after being named to the first team as a DH last season. He posted a .307 average with two homers and 33 RBIs.

Livulpi is a second-team outfield pick for the second straight season. He hit .293 with four homers and 17 RBIs and successfully stole 20 bases in 23 attempts.

Quintal earned a spot in the starting lineup in the outfield and has been a regular much of the season. He batted .315 with four home runs and 23 RBIs.

UM assistant coach resigns

University of Maine women’s basketball assistant Dana Smith, who came with head coach Sharon Versyp to Maine three years ago and helped develop the Bears into a WNIT participant this past season, has resigned to pursue opportunities outside of basketball.

Her resignation is effective May 30.

The Maine women have had a steady progression over the three seasons, going 12-16 (9-9 in America East) in Versyp and Smith’s first season; 16-12 (9-7 AE) the next year and 25-6 (16-0) this past season.

The Bears lost to Boston University 69-65 in the conference tournament final which cost them an NCAA Tournament berth. But they did earn a WNIT bid only to be ousted by visiting Creighton University (Neb.) 74-67.

“This is a place I’ve considered home for the past three years, and it’s difficult to leave,” said Smith in a press release.

She said the support from co-workers, the community, the coaching staff and the team has been “incredible” and a part of her will “always be a Black Bear.

“However, it’s time for me to move on to other aspects of my life and I look forward to the challenges and opportunities that are out there for me,” Smith added.

Versyp said Smith did a very good job and made a positive impact on the program and “a difference in many of the student-athletes’ lives.”

Versyp also said “there has been an amazing amount of interest in the job already” and that the new assistant will start on Aug. 1.

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