St. Joseph’s College’s two talented catchers are listed one atop another on the baseball roster — No. 7 Joe Coyne and No. 8 Nic Lops.

Lops is well-known to area baseball fans after a standout career at Cheverus. He has continued his stellar play for St. Joseph’s (35-5), which is heading to the NCAA Division III baseball regionals for the third straight year. The second-seeded Monks play No. 7 Bowdoin (25-18) at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday at Eastern Connecticut University in Mansfield, Conn.

The University of Southern Maine (27-17) is in the tournament as the sixth seed. The Huskies will play No. 3 Trinity (32-9) at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. The regional is an eight-team, double-elimination tournament. Eight regional champions advance to the Division III World Series May 25-29 in Appleton, Wis.

Lops, an all-state selection last season with the Stags, has made a smooth transition to Division III. He leads the team with a .419 batting average and a .460 on-base percentage, and is tied for second with 49 hits.

Coyne, a top recruit from Duxbury, Mass., is third in hitting with a .358 average, leads in hits with 53 and is fourth in on-base percentage at .429. Lops said his college choice came down to St. Joseph’s and UMass-Boston.

He went with clean air and the scenic campus on the shores of Sebago Lake, and he wasn’t detered even knowing the team already had a highly regarded incoming catcher.

“I love the state of Maine,” said Lops, who lives in South Portland. “I don’t plan on leaving it anytime soon. I had heard a lot of good things about St. Joe’s from players like Todd Keneborus, who had played here.”

Keneborus was also a standout at Cheverus.

Lops and Coyne have alternated behind the plate. When one is catching, the other is the designated hitter. Neither has committed an error.

“We couldn’t be in a better situation than that,” said Coach Will Sanborn. “It’s going to be fun to pencil those guys into the lineup for four years. They’re both good students and tremendous leaders.”

Lops, an English/secondary education major, finished his first year with a 3.76 GPA.

Both feed off one another.

“We definitely push each other,” said Lops. “Joe is a great guy. There’s a level of competitiveness there. I want the best for him and he feels the same way. He’s a tremendous catcher and one of the hottest (batters).”

Sanborn began following Lops when Lops was a sophomore at Cheverus.

“I knew Nic was a pretty talented player,” said Sanborn. “I’m not really surprised at his success in his first season playing in college. You always wonder how a player will do his freshman year. Nic was the guy people were watching. He’s developed the way everyone thought he would.

“Nic has natural leadership qualities. He knows how to handle the pitchers, call the defenses and set up cutoffs and relays. He’s not afraid to stick his neck out and make a decision even if it turns out to be a wrong one.”

Lops has adapted to the college game, offensively and defensively.

“The players are a little bit faster and stronger,” he said. “The best pitchers in the Telegram League are about average speed in our conference (the Great Northeast Athletic Conference). The pitchers have more stuff, and everyone has a good breaking ball and other off-speed pitches. They’re not afraid to throw any of their pitches at any time.

“Working with my coaches, I’ve been able to make adjustments at the plate and at catcher.”

Sanborn feels his team’s experience in the regionals will help. In 2010, the Monks won three games and finished third. Last year, they won two games. The team has several players who played in both those tournaments.

“It helps to have guys on the team who have competed at this level,” said Sanborn. “The seeds don’t really mean much because we’re all from different leagues. All the teams are playing with a lot of confidence.”

St. Joseph’s lost to Bowdoin 9-4 on April 9. Two years ago, the Monks beat Bowdoin 1-0 in Brunswick just before the regionals. Chad Rafferty, who will pitch against the Polar Bears, faced them two years ago.

“Chad is our No. 1,” said Sanborn. “He’s had a great year. He has a 9-0 record, a 1.97 ERA with 61 strikeouts in 59 innings.

“We know Bowdoin as well as anyone in the tournament. Both teams have outstanding pitching staffs.”

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:[email protected]

Twitter: TomChardPPH