1. Thornton Academy: In softball it always starts with pitching – and unflappable senior Bailey Tremblay is the best pitcher in Western Class A. Tremblay led the Golden Trojans to their first regional title in 2014. Thornton suffered significant losses to graduation but the cupboard is hardly bare. Junior first-team SMAA third baseman Kaylee Burns and senior shortstop Brooke Cross both hit well over .400 with pop.

2. Scarborough: The Red Storm were 18-0 before being stopped in the Western Class A final by Thornton. Telegram Player of the Year Alyssa Williamson is gone but senior Sophia Burnham went 6-0 last season. As usual, Coach Tom Griffin has pitching options with sophomores Lilly Volk and Abby Murrell, and his niece, freshman Chloe Griffin. Scarborough’s infield is top-flight, with senior Ashley Gleason (second), and juniors Maggie Murphy (third) and Chloe Gorey (short) returning.

3. Biddeford: One of the 10 teams in the SMAA with a new varsity coach, Biddeford’s veteran pitching duo of senior Abbie Paquette and Kirsten Lebreux provides Coach Ray Magnant with the league’s best one-two combo. Paquette is also a top-flight shortstop who is hoping to find the power-hitting stroke she showed as a freshman and sophomore. Third baseman Erin Martin, recovering from a soccer knee injury, hit .370 as a sophomore.

4. Cape Elizabeth: With no varsity pitching experience, Coach Joe Henrikson is hesitant to tout his club as the Western Maine Conference’s top team. His peers are not. Cape has gone 31-1 in the past two regular seasons and features two of the most feared sluggers around in shortstop Ashley Tinsman and Tess Haller, who likely will shift from catcher to second base. Megan Nicholson, who could flop positions with Haller, and right fielder/first baseman Hannah Saturley are also solid.

5. Lincoln Academy: Coach Tom Nelson returns 12 players to a team that went 14-2 in the regular season and was the No. 2 seed in the Western Class B playoffs. Led by two-time all-KVAC pitcher Abby Farrin, slugging catcher Miranda Achorn and her twin sister, Morgan Achorn, in center, the veterans want to avenge last season’s quarterfinal loss. Juniors Chloe Hallowell (RF), Alyx York (3B), Alyssa Smith and Olivia York (2B) and versatile senior Danielle Pinkham combine speed and power.

6. Noble: After the SMAA’s consensus top three, there is no clear No. 4. Despite graduating standout pitcher Amber Kelly, Noble gets the nod because veteran coach Rick Melanson has established a winning progam and seven starters return from a fundamentally sound 12-6 team, led by second-team SMAA first baseman Melodie Bailey and fleet center fielder Katie Taylor. Melanson is also encouraged by his pitchers: senior Kailey Coleman, junior Shaughnessey Gower and freshman Mackenzie Aleva.


7. Greely: The Rangers return seven starters from a team that went 11-6 overall, including top pitcher senior Miranda Moore and her longtime catcher, senior Audrey Mann. Rob Hale, a longtime softball assistant, becomes the program’s fifth coach in eight seasons. Senior outfielder Hayley Felkel, junior Sarah Felkel at third and sophomore shortstop Moira Train are above-average fielders. Greely lacks big-time power hitters so putting the ball in play will be key.

8. Falmouth: Falmouth could be very good in the WMC this year but will compete in the Class A tournament. A lot will depend on the health of junior pitcher Julia Treadwell, who established herself as one of the league’s best as Falmouth went 10-7. Treadwell will miss the preseason due to illness. Falmouth is led by the WMC Player of the Year in senior Elizabeth Walker, who plays right field or first base and slugged 15 extra-base hits in a .529 season.

9. Oceanside: Coach Rusty Worcester guided Oceanside to a 12-6 record after winning the 2013 Class B title and now has a more seasoned team led by senior pitchers Paige Tyler and left-hander Alexis Davis, and solid hitters in junior outfielder Kayln Grover, junior catcher Ari Curtis and sophomore shortstop Alexis Mazurek.

10. South Portland: If the Red Riots shore up their defense to support pitcher Steph Aceto, they can become a factor. Senior shortstop Laurine German is one of the league’s most dynamic players, and Abby Young (2B), Kylie Kennedy (C) and Miranda Gleason are solid. If errors remain a problem, then several clubs – including McAuley, Sanford, Gorham, and Windham – could leapfrog South Portland.


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