1. Scarborough: Tom Griffin calls this one of the deepest teams he’s ever had, which is saying a lot considering Scarborough is loaded every year. The Red Storm have to replace their entire infield, but return all three pitchers from last year (UMaine-bound Lilly Volk, Saint Anselm-bound Abbie Murrell and junior Chloe Griffin) as well as catcher Hannah Ricker, who hit .516 and didn’t commit an error. Shortstop Laura Powell and outfielder Lindsey Kelley head a strong junior class that will keep Scarborough atop the field. And they can all hit.
2. Windham: Expectations are high for the Eagles, who advanced to the semifinals a year ago and have a strong group returning. Senior Olivia Mora was a first-team all-SMAA pick last year, hitting six home runs and driving in 31, while senior pitcher Danielle Tardiff was a second-team choice. Defensively the Eagles should be really good, led by senior second baseman Taylor Tibbetts, junior shortstop Alex Morang and junior third baseman Taylah Piazza, a transfer from Massachusetts. Junior Lauren Talbot moves from shortstop to center field. Watch this team closely.
3. Thornton Academy: The Trojans return six starters and are bolstered by the transfer of junior second baseman Katie Verreault (.316 batting average, only two errors in the field) from Scarborough. Junior pitcher Louisa Colucci, a second-team SMAA pick, is back, as is sophomore shortstop Olivia Howe, who batted .350 last year. Thornton should get a boost from the return of sophomore catcher Jenica Botting, who missed much of last year with a concussion. As always with the Trojans, defense will be the key.
4. Wells: The Warriors made a surprising run to the Class B South quarterfinals last year and return everyone from that team, including junior left-handed pitcher Anya Chase, who Coach Kevin Fox said “might be the best pitcher I’ve ever had.” When she’s on, she’s nearly unhittable. She also batted .650 last year. But there are plenty of solid players on the Warriors. Senior catcher Sara Ring (.415) is a three-year starter. Junior center fielder Olivia Clay hit .500 and is exceptional defensively. First baseman Sam Bogue (.371 last year) and second baseman Olivia Durfee solidify the infield.
5. Oceanside: Say this about Rusty Worcester’s Mariners team, they are going to hit the ball. He returns a solid group from a team that went 16-1, including two sophomores who hit over .400 (pitcher Chloe Jones at .444 and center fielder Hannah Moholland at .429) and four others who hit over .325 (senior first baseman Alexis Mazurek, junior shortstop Casey Pine, sophomore second baseman Rachel Joyce and sophomore catcher Abby Veilleux). Jones averaged 10.3 strikeouts a game.
6. Massabesic: The Mustangs graduated only two players from a contending team last year and look to make a long run into the playoffs. They can hit, led by sophomores Lacey Bean (an all-SMAA first-team pick, .392, five home runs, 20 RBI, eight stolen bases) and Grace Tutt (.377, 19 runs, 12 RBI) and senior Sarah Howe (.312, 12 runs, 10 RBI). Senior Kyra Cartwright is an experienced catcher who will handle Tutt and Howe.
7. Biddeford: First-year coach Mike Fecteau knows he has a challenge, with only three starters back from last year’s Class A state title-winning team. But they’re pretty good and should keep Biddeford in contention again. Start with junior catcher Brook Davis, the most dangerous power hitter in the state. Seniors Alex Chase (first base), Amber Magnant (outfield/pitcher) and Aibhlin O’Connor (outfield) each contributed to the championship run and will be expected to lead the younger players.
8. Greely: The numbers may be low at Greely with only 14 players, but the talent is abundant. The Rangers have some of the top players in Class B South in junior pitcher Kelsey Currier, senior shortstop Moira Train and senior center fielder Kayley Cimino. They are all outstanding hitters and defensive players. But the Rangers lack depth, partly because of season-ending knee injuries to Jennie Smith and Anna Smith. Coach Rob Hale is looking for junior Maddie Rawnsley to step into the catcher’s position. Once the younger players get acclimated, the Rangers will be tough.
9. Medomak Valley: Richard Vannah’s Panthers made a nice tournament run last year, advancing to the Class B North semifinals. They could do it again, despite still being relatively young. Medomak has a couple of solid pitchers in junior Gabby DePatsy and sophomore lefty Addie Jameson, and the Panthers can hit. Sophomore first baseman Lydia Simmons batted .591 last year with 10 doubles and 18 RBI while Jameson hit .424 and DePatsy .419 with 23 RBI. Junior catcher Josie Jameson has started since her freshman year and hit .350 last year.
10. Fryeburg Academy: Numbers weren’t a problem for Fred Apt. He had 36 players, including 16 freshmen, try out for softball. The Raiders, who advanced to the quarterfinals last season, should contend again. They’ll be strong up the middle with returning players at catcher (Makayla Cooper), pitcher (Nicole Bennett) and center field (Mackenzie Buzzell, who hit .537 with four home runs, 27 runs and 18 RBI). Sophomore Tina LeBlanc returns at shortstop as well. “We’ve got some puzzle pieces to put in place,” said Apt. “But I do feel good.”