Janelle Bouchard’s path to Indiana, where she’s the starting catcher on the Division I Valparaiso University softball team, began before she even reached Kennebunk High.
“When I was an assistant coach at the University of Rhode Island, I first saw Janelle when she was in the eighth grade playing for her travel team in the summer,” Valparaiso Coach Jordan Stevens said.
“We were looking at another player at the time and we saw her behind the plate and I became very fond of the way she played. I continued to follow her when I went to Union and when I got the job out here her coach became my very first phone call. I was just hoping she hadn’t committed yet.”
It turned out Bouchard, a four-time first-team All-State selection at Kennebunk, had received a few offers but none that matched Valparaiso’s.
“I was super honored and I came out here, and everyone was very welcoming and the family environment was what I wanted,” Bouchard said in a recent telephone interview. “It was an easy decision.”
Bouchard’s move from southeast Maine to the northwest corner of the Hoosier state (Valparaiso is approximately halfway between South Bend and Chicago) has been a great fit between player and program.
“It’s awesome. I’m living the dream out here. Definitely I love it,” Bouchard said.
For most of her freshman season Bouchard was hitting well above .300 with power and production.
Like the rest of her team, Bouchard’s batting average slipped as the Crusaders (21-19, 6-6 in the Horizon League) totaled 10 runs in seven straight losses.
Entering Thursday’s nonconference game at Notre Dame, Bouchard is hitting .298 with nine doubles, two homers and a team-leading 29 RBI. She’s been in the starting lineup 37 times, usually behind the plate.
Bouchard has not been charged with an error and has thrown out a respectable 11 of 37 steal attempts.
“I think my mental game has had to change a lot. I hadn’t been put into too many pressure situations in high school or summer ball but it’s pretty much constant out here,” Bouchard said.
Valparaiso will play 55 games leading up to the Horizon League tournament May 8-11. Valparaiso won the regular-season and tournament championship in 2012, earning its first bid to the NCAA tournament.
“It’s a long season, a lot of wear and tear, and you just have to fight through it and fight through adversity to achieve success,” Bouchard said.
Stevens said Bouchard has taken charge of the pitching staff, which includes two freshmen starters.
“I knew she would be able to throw people out and swing the bat,” Stevens said. “The thing that is starting to impress me more and more is that she has to deal with a very young pitching staff and the leadership skills that she’s starting to exhibit.”
South Portland native Jon Gillies was named the Hockey Commissioners’ Association Division I national rookie of the year Friday after a standout season in goal for Providence.
Gillies went 17-12-6 with a school-record five shutouts. His 2.08 goals-against average was the second-best in school history and ranked 15th nationally. His .931 save percentage ranked ninth nationally.
“This is obviously an amazing honor and I would like to thank everyone who was part of the decision process,” Gillies said in an HCA release. “I know I wouldn’t be anywhere without my family, Coach (Nate) Leaman and his staff, and their belief in me, and most of all my teammates who had my back no matter what.”
Gillies earned a number of postseason honors.
He became the first freshman to be selected as a Hockey East first-team goaltender.
He was also named the Hockey East rookie of the year and to the Hockey East all-rookie team.
In addition, he was a second-team AHCA/CCM East All-America choice, voted the George C. Carens rookie of the year by the New England Hockey Writers Association and chosen the College Hockey News rookie of the year.
A third-round selection by the Calgary Flames in the 2012 NHL draft, the 19-year-old, 6-foot-5, 215-pound Gillies played the two previous seasons for the Indiana Ice in the USHL.
TRACK & FIELD
Ithaca College sophomore Emilia Scheemaker of Scarborough, a two-time triple jump state champion in Maine, is continuing to build a strong indoor/outdoor season. Her outdoor-best triple jump of 38 feet, 11⁄2 inches is the sixth-best in Division III this season (rankings as of April 10s).
This winter Scheemaker set an Empire 8 Championship meet record in the triple jump and went on to place second in the triple jump with a school- record effort of 39-41⁄2, and sixth in the long jump (17-51⁄4) at the ECAC championships won by Ithaca.
Scheemaker was ninth in the triple jump at the NCAA Division III championships.
University of New Hampshire sophomore Abigail Huntress of Saco (Thornton Academy) won the shot put with a best throw of 38 feet, 71⁄2 inches to help the Wildcats easily win their own seven-team invitational Sunday. Huntress was also seventh in the discus.
UNH junior Michelle Guerin of York was third in the javelin (117-08).
UNH sophomore Morgan Costa of Standish (Bonny Eagle) was fourth in the 200-meter dash, and classmate Keila Grigware of Biddeford was seventh in the weight throw.
UNH junior Nathaniel Hathaway of Scarborough was sixth in the men’s 1,500 meter (4 minutes, 0.29 seconds).
Brandeis junior Amelia Lundkvist of South Portland (Cheverus) was 12th in a 60-woman field in the mile at the Brown Springtime Invitational meet with a time of 5 minutes, 12.09 seconds. The meet included Division I and unattached runners.
Husson senior Aimee Mortensen of Biddeford earned North Atlantic Conference player of the week honors after she batted .550 (11 for 20) with five doubles, a home run and a triple, driving in seven runs and scoring nine as Husson went 8-0. The Eagles are 17-8-1, 10-0 in the NAC. Mortensen is hitting .356 this season.
Colby freshman shortstop Emily Schatz of Lyman (Massabesic) and sophomore second baseman Meaghan Lewia of Wells are driving the Mules’ offense this season.
Schatz is hitting .368 and leads Colby (8-9) with two homers and 17 RBI, batting a robust .417 with runners in scoring position. On April 6 she homered in both games of a doubleheader at Bates.
Leadoff hitter Lewia leads the team in batting average (.421), hits (24), doubles (5), total bases (34), slugging percentage (.596) and on-base percentage (.500).
Sophomore outfielder Carolyn Bennett of Scarborough has started 14 of the 15 games she’s played in.
Thomas College (9-14 overall, 8-2 in the North Atlantic Conference) has eight local products on its roster and four are contributing regularly.
In the field, freshman Zack Groat of West Bath (Morse) is hitting .230 with 5 RBI, appearing in 21 games. Freshman outfielder Nate Peasley of Buxton (Bonny Eagle) has appeared in 17 games with a .238 average. Senior Jake Chamblee of South Berwick (Marshwood) is 3-2 this season in six starts and went six innings, allowing two earned runs in a recent win against Maine-Farmington. Freshman Dillon Dunbar of Saco (Thornton Academy) is 0-4 but did turn in a solid complete-game effort against Farmington.
Tufts University junior Eliza Halmo of Brunswick scored two goals in the Jumbos’ recent 13-4 win against Wheaton.
Tufts (6-5, 2-5 in the NESCAC) is ranked No. 17 in the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Association national rankings. Halmo, a starter at midfield, has totaled nine goals and three assists.
Saint Michael’s College sophomore Kate Boyer of Standish (Bonny Eagle) scored a career-high five goals in a 16-8 thumping of Franklin Pierce. Boyer has notched 23 goals and was named to the weekly Northeast-10 honor roll.
Hamilton College senior Dylan Jackson of Yarmouth is in the bow position in the men’s varsity eight boat this season. Sophomore Andrew Szatkowski of Buxton (Bonny Eagle) is a member of the second varsity eight.