1. Scarborough: The Red Storm win the Class A state championship every time they go to Florida for preseason. That’s where they’re going this spring so watch out. They have two of the best pitchers/hitters in the state – Erin Giles and Alyssa Williamson. That’s not all. Second baseman Marissa O’Toole (a four-year starter), shortstop Grace Farnkoff, outfielders Mary Redmond and Brenna Kent, catcher Paige Moore-Haskell and third baseman Megan Murrell are all standouts. This is the team to beat.
2. South Portland: The defending Western Class A champion can match anyone for talent. Left-hander Erin Bogdanovich is one of the top pitchers in the state. And there might not be a better middle infield than shortstop Danica Gleason and second baseman Laurine German. Kelsey Morton, Olivia Indorf, Sam DiBiase, and Michaela Willwerth round out a formidable batting order. They won’t give up many runs.
3. Noble: The Knights return a talented group paced by junior pitcher Amber Kelly – she walked only 13 batters last year – and infielders Molly Pritchett and Nicole Lanoie. Both are seniors starting their fourth year at third and second. Catcher Jess Morris handles pitches well and batted .340 last year. They will rely on pitching and defense for success.
4. Fryeburg Academy: The Raiders might not have the depth they had in the past, but they have three of the best players statewide in Class B in pitcher Sarah Harriman, center fielder Maddie Pearson and catcher Carla Tripp. Add first baseman Kylie Locke to the top of the lineup and it’s a formidable offense.
5. Thornton Academy: The Trojans have to replace all-everything Julia Geaumont but they have the talent to contend. Sophomore Bailey Tremblay moves into the pitcher’s spot, Sam Schildroth moves back to catcher after playing third last year. The two combined to drive in 57 runs last year. Karen Jacques leads the outfield as Morgan Dube moves in to shortstop. Defense, as always, is the Trojans’ key.
6. Medomak Valley: The Panthers lost only one player from last year’s Eastern Class B quarterfinal club and return one of the state’s top pitchers in Desiree Benner. But they have a lot more: catcher Maria Ennamorati and first baseman Taylor Simmons are starting their third seasons; third baseman Amanda Hendrickson hit .390 last year; second baseman Heidi Obuchon is flawless defensively; and sophomore Hannah Marks takes over at shortstop.
7. Biddeford: Always tough to play, the Tigers should be right in the middle of the Western Class A playoff race. Sophomore pitcher Abbie Paquette is back, throwing harder than ever. Catcher Katie Plante and shortstop Katelyn Lebreux are also back, providing great strength up the middle. Right fielder Mariah Albert solidifies the outfield.
8. Massabesic: The Mustangs suffered a blow with pitcher Gabby Townsend out for the year while recovering from knee surgery. But senior Dani Egan has the stuff to be a top pitcher. Amber Libby is one of the league’s top catchers. Regan Adams and Cassidy Hill bring leadership to the infield. Good leadership from five returning seniors.
9. Mt. Ararat: The Eagles return nine players from a team that made it to the Eastern Class A preliminary round last year. Catcher Taylor Pare (.521, three home runs) leads the returning players, along with first baseman Mallory Nelson (.462), shortstop Miceala Mitchell and pitcher Kim Leslie. Good hitting team. The key will be how well the Eagles play defensively.
10. Gray-New Gloucester: Lost only one player from last year’s Western Class B semifinalists and the Patriots look strong again. Shortstop Alex Thompson is one of the best in the league, aided by catcher Zoe Adams, outfielder Sandy Ricardi and infielder Maria Valente. Should be in the hunt from the start.