The St. Joseph’s baseball team will head to the Great Northeast Athletic Conference playoffs later this week with a balanced and experienced lineup.

The Monks have five players batting above .400, five starting pitchers in their rotation and a slew of guys who remember losing in the GNAC final last year to Suffolk.

“We like to think it’s a pretty balanced attack we’ve got, that we’ve got a number of ways we can beat you,” said Coach Will Sanborn, who has led the Monks to four 30-win seasons in the last five years. “As a team, we’re batting .366, but we bunted eight times to beat Bowdoin a few weeks ago.”

The Monks (28-10) will host a game Thursday as the tournament’s No. 2 seed. They will learn tonight who their first-round opponent will be.

“This weekend is what we play for,” said catcher Travis Adams, a former Thornton Academy standout. “We’re confident because we know we have the ability, but we also know that other teams are just as talented as us.

“It’s going to be who is willing to work harder and stay more focused throughout the tournament.”

Adams symbolizes the team’s work ethic. The Monks have relied heavily on him in the last few weeks after he had been sharing duties at catcher with Ian Lee of Hampden and John Dahms of Gorham.

Lee injured his arm three weeks ago and, although he can hit, is still unavailable on defense.

Dahms learned on Friday that he had a blood clot in his shoulder, and doctors will attempt to remove it today.

That has left Adams with the majority of innings at catcher, including a few doubleheaders.

“I’ve sort of gotten used to it,” said Adams, who also plays back-to-back games in the Twilight League every summer. “Once the game is going on I get loose and my knees are just fine. It’s afterwards I’m exhausted.”

He also felt a responsibility to increase his production at the plate after a slow start.

“I remember thinking if I’m going to be the guy every day, I need to get my swing going a little more,” said Adams, who is now batting .357.

The team, said Sanborn, has the tools it needs to win the tournament but will need to make sure everything comes together.

“They are certainly capable, but it’s not going to be easy,” said Sanborn. “We’re playing our best baseball in the last couple of weeks. I think if there’s something we need to do better, it’s maybe playing a little better defense. So that will be a focus this week.”

Todd Keneborus, a former Cheverus standout, is hitting .462. Infielder Chris Campbell and Lee are hitting .427, second baseman Mike Burdin of Gardiner is hitting .410 and Ben Grant-Roy of Biddeford is hitting .400.

The rotation is led by Sam Murray, who is 5-1 with a 1.99 ERA; and Pat Moran of Winterport, a former Division I player at Maine, is 6-1 with a 3.86 ERA.

The bullpen is also strong, said Sanborn, who relies often on Andrew Keirstead, a left-hander from Westbrook.

“He’s been an ace in the hole,” said Sanborn.

n Left fielder Emily Leverone broke the school softball single-season record for runs batted in while playing in the GNAC tournament this weekend. She had 60 RBI this season, bettering the mark of 56 by Sue Picard, who drove in 56 runs in 2002.

Leverone closed out her sophomore season with 110 career and is well within range of the school career record of 132 held by Lisa Pichaske (1998), who did it over four seasons.

UNIVERSITY OF NEW ENGLAND

The Nor’easters’ softball team, which went 17-7 in The Commonwealth Coast Conference, earned the No. 2 seed for the league playoffs this week and earned a first-round bye.

UNE will host two games on Wednesday following a rescheduled play-in game tonight.

The first game, to begin at 2:30 p.m., will pit No. 3 seed Western New England against the winner of the play-in game between Curry and Nichols. The Nor’easters then face the survivor approximately 20 minutes after that game ends.

n The men’s lacrosse team qualified for the conference playoffs by unusual means, winning a three-way coin flip for the eighth and final spot.

UNE will face No. 1 seed Endicott on Saturday, time TBA.

UNE, Nichols and Wentworth Institute of Technology all finished with 2-8 conference records. Four tiebreakers couldn’t produce a winner, leading to the coin flip.

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MAINE

The men’s track and field team won the Little East Conference and New England Alliance championships for the second straight year.

USM became the first men’s team to sweep the LEC and New England Alliance cross country, indoor track and outdoor track titles in the same academic year.

n The women’s track team won its 11th straight LEC outdoor title and 10th Alliance championship in the last 11 years. Sophomore Bethany Dumas of Augusta won three events: pole vault, javelin and 400-meter hurdles. She was a provisional qualifier for the NCAA Division III championships in the javelin.

n The men’s baseball team won its last three games after dropping three straight to Husson, St. Joseph’s and Thomas.

In a 22-15 victory against UMass-Boston, freshman Nick Grady of Whitefield and senior Collin Henry of Penobscot combined for eight hits and nine RBI.

SOUTHERN MAINE CC

SMCC is looking for nominations for its Athletics Hall of Fame in three categories: former student-athlete, administrator/coach or friend and supporter.

Inductees will be honored at a ceremony in the fall. For more information, contact Director of Athletics Matt Richards at [email protected]

UNIVERSITY OF MAINE

Linebacker Brandon McLaughlin was invited to a Cleveland Browns minicamp later this week.

Two other Maine players signed NFL free-agent deals following the NFL draft this weekend, a third was invited to a minicamp and a fourth signed to play in the Canadian Football League.

• The football team will wrap up three weeks of spring practice with the annual Jeff Cole Spring Scrimmage at 10 a.m. Saturday. The Black Bears have a record 70 players in spring practice, although 18 are recovering from postseason surgery and playing only in noncontact situations.

• The softball team is in second place in the America East standings with 9-3 record, 20-22 overall. The Black Bears have regular-season series left against Boston University and Stony Brook before the conference playoffs.

• The baseball team is in first place at 7-3 in the conference, 23-16 overall. The Black Bears swept three games against Hartford this weekend and have a game scheduled at Sanford’s Goodall Park against Northeastern at 5 p.m. May 11.

BOWDOIN

The softball team is having a record season. A doubleheader sweep of Trinity on Saturday set the program record for single-season victories at 27.

The wins also put Bowdoin in good position for a berth in the New England Small College Athletic Conference playoffs. Bowdoin (27-10, 6-3 NESCAC) needs to sweep Bates this weekend to assure a spot in the four-team tournament.

• The baseball team also needs to sweep Bates to earn a berth in the NESCAC playoffs. The Polar Bears are 21-10 overall, but just 4-5 in the conference.

 

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at: [email protected]