1. Portland: The Bulldogs, who were 5-11 last season, return all nine starters, including their top two pitchers in Nate Smart and Caleb Fraser. The offense should finally click after scoring only 52 runs in 16 games. Nick Volger and Tim Rovnak are experienced. First baseball Karl Reichert adds power. Smart and Fraser can hit. The players enjoyed a strong American Legion season.
2. Scarborough: The defending Western Class A champ has a new coach in Ryan Jones, who was an assistant last year. The team has one of the top pitchers in the state in junior Ben Greenberg. The losses of Joe Cronin, Ben Wessel and Connor McCann through graduation will be felt, but the team has enough veterans for a smooth transition, with 15 seniors and one junior.
3. Westbrook: The Blue Blazes have a number of returning players from a team that went 11-5, then lost to Cheverus in the quarterfinals. Two returnees are all-conference pitchers Keenan Lowe and Zach Bean. Junior catcher Kyle Heath is the anchor. Colin Joyce will play shortstop and is key. Derek Bouchard is solid at third.
4. Cheverus: The Stags graduated six starters, including their top two pitchers. Still, they have one of the best pitchers in the league in junior Mitchell Powers, who was limited to nine innings last season because of elbow surgery. Powers bounced back with a strong summer in Legion ball. A number of players were on the team that finished second in the Northeast Regional American Legion tournament. The open positions will be filled by players who have waited their turns. The Stags have a good chance of contending.
5. Falmouth: A year ago, the Yachtsmen came out of the pack to win the Class B state title. There will be no surprises this season. Falmouth enters as the favorite in the Western Maine Conference. The team has a talented and deep pitching staff with Thomas Fortier, Connor Murphy and Addison Foltmer. It has several all-conference players returning, including the power-hitting Andrew Emple.
6. Greely: The Rangers won’t enter the season as the power they appeared to be at this time a year ago. But they’re still very good and will build around Jonah Normandeau and Bailey Train, who are talented pitchers and hitters. They’ll be used as DHs when not on the mound. This is Coach Derek Soule’s most inexperienced team, but he likes the potential with numerous good athletes.
7. Thornton Academy: The Golden Trojans have one of the top pitchers in the state in Jeff Gelinas, who will be heading to Maine on a baseball scholarship in the fall. When he’s on the mound, Thornton can beat anyone. Infielder Alex Fallon batted .340 last season. The players gained valuable experience in the Northeast Regional American Legion baseball tournament last summer.
8. Windham: The Eagles have a good nucleus from last season looking to contend. The team has depth at pitching with twins Joe and Shawn Francoeur, Nate Boyle and Tanner Laberge. Jack Herzig is a strong leader as a catcher with good skills. Windham feels it can beat anyone in the league. Former assistant Brody Artes is in his first season as head coach.
9. Marshwood: The Hawks have six returning starters from a team that went 14-3 last season. Catcher Matt Brenner is a four-year starter. The top of the order is strong. Pitchers Robert Jones and Alex McLean gained valuable experience pitching during the summer. Zach Quintal will bat third with Brenner batting fourth. Some talented sophomores will help out.
10. Sanford: The Spartans look to be improved and with Ryan Camire on the mound, can compete with the top teams in the league. The return of Cody Mooney will help; he will be the No. 2 pitcher and bat in the middle of the lineup. Mooney was lost for the season a year ago when he broke his wrist after behing hit by a pitch. The team has five returning starters, and several other kids received playing time to help get a sense of the varsity level.