Henry Curran of South Portland didn’t start pitching until his freshman year. By the time of his senior season this spring, the left-handed Curran possessed a fastball in the mid-80s, a sharp-breaking curve, and the command to throw both for strikes.

Curran gave an indication of the type of season he would have on opening day when he held Thornton Academy to one-hit through six innings while striking out 12 in a 7-1 win. Curran would go on to help lead the Red Riots to the Western Class A title and a berth in the state final, where they lost to Bangor, 5-4.

Because Curran pitched in the regional final against Portland three days earlier, he wasn’t eligible to pitch in the state final.

Curran pitched two other one-hitters, played solid outfield when he wasn’t on the mound and chipped in with some key extra-base hits. He’s the Maine Sunday Telegram’s baseball Player of the Year.

“When I first saw him as a freshman, I saw someone with a lot of natural ability,” said South Portland Coach Mike Owens. “Henry was still growing into his body and figuring out the mechanics of being a pitcher.

“He made a huge jump from his sophomore to his junior year. He dedicated himself to working a lot harder.”

Two games during the regular season showed Curran’s dominance.

On May 9, Curran pitched a one-hitter and struck out 19 in a 1-0 win over Cheverus. On May 21, he pitched a one-hitter while striking out 14 in a 4-0 win over Portland. He beat Portland a second time in the regional final, 2-1, as he tossed a four-hitter with eight strikeouts.

“He’s by far the best pitcher in the league,” said Portland Coach Mike Rutherford. “When Curran was on, which was most of the time, teams didn’t have much of a chance.”

Curran finished with a 7-1 record. His only loss was in a brief relief appearance against Gorham in which a defensive miscue by the Riots led to the defeat. Curran led the SMAA in strikeouts (74), ERA (0.64), fewest runs allowed (six), fewest hits allowed (17) and opponents’ batting average (.116).

“My sophomore year was kind of a building year,” said Curran. “I worked on my mechanics, and my junior year I got a lot more innings. I knew what I had to work on.

“I’ve received a lot of family support and my dad really motivated me.”

Curran said the best part of the season “was being part of the team.”

“The connection we had with one another was great,” he said. “We lost some key players from a year ago, but everyone pulled through. Our fielders did a great job. Drew Abramson at short, Matt Beecher at third and Sam Solomon at second came through, as did the other guys.”

Curran, who played center field and left field when he wasn’t pitching, also contributed 11 stolen bases, which ranked sixth in the league. He was a top soccer goalie in the fall and ran indoor track during the winter.

“Henry is an excellent athlete,” said Owens. “He had a triple in the regular-season game against Portland and a double in the Western Maine final. He’s a typical senior athlete who came through in big situations at the plate.”

Curran plans to play baseball at the University of Southern Maine. Another former Red Riots pitcher, Andrew Richards, played for the Huskies and did pretty well. Curran wouldn’t mind following his lead, but perhaps without the amount of innings pitched.

THE ALL-STATE TEAM

Connor Aube, Falmouth junior, outfield: Aube batted .412 and had a .580 on-base percentage. He scored 20 runs and had 11 RBI.

Will Bryant, Greely senior, outfield: The Western Maine Conference Player of the Year and John Winkin Award finalist, Bryant batted .375 and had a 6-1 record with a 1.07 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 59 innings.

Henry Curran, South Portland senior, pitcher: Curran pitched one-hitters against Thornton Academy, Cheverus and Portland, striking out at least a dozen in each game. He pitched a four-hitter against Portland in the Western Class A title game.

Trevor Delaite, Bangor junior, pitcher: Delaite had an 8-0 record for the Class A state champions and struck out 81 in 51 innings. In the Eastern Maine final, the left-hander struck out 17 and pitched a three-hitter against Brewer. In two seasons, he is 13-0.

Gage Feeney, Washington Academy senior, utility: A pitcher, third baseman and shortstop, Feeney batted .451 with seven doubles, a triple, a home run and 22 RBI. He had a 7-3 record and struck out 101 in 62 innings.

Andrew Hillier, Bangor senior, first base: Hillier sparked Bangor to a second straight Class A title, batting .355 with 17 RBI. He was 5-0 on the mound.

Zach Hodges, Marshwood senior, outfield: Hodges batted .431 with four doubles, two triples and a home run. He was errorless in center field.

Eric Hoogterp, Old Town senior, shortstop: Winner of the John Winkin Award, Hoogterp batted .611 with 21 RBI and 25 runs scored. He was the Penobscot Valley Conference Player of the Year.

Tanner Laberge, Windham senior, second baseman/pitcher: Laberge finished with a .391 average and five doubles. He posted a 1.83 ERA and struck out 49 batters in 341/3 innings.

Ben Lambert, Thornton Academy senior, utility: The MVP of the SMAA, Lambert led the league with a .393 average, four triples and 37 total bases. He made eight starts on the mound, and his 57 innings pitched were the most in the league.

John Parker, Brunswick senior, utility: The KVAC Player of the Year, Parker was a pitcher and also played first and third. He batted .510 to go with a 5-3 record and 71 strikeouts in 45 innings.

Zack Quintal, Marshwood senior, third base: The Maine Gatorade Player of the Year, Quintal batted .440 with 21 runs scored, two triples and a double. As a pitcher, he was a 7-1 with a 0.85 ERA.

Ryan Ruhlin, Portland senior, catcher: Ruhlin played errorless ball behind the plate and teams rarely tried to steal against him. He batted .381 and led the Bulldogs with 15 RBI. As a pitcher, he had a 7-2 record with four saves and a 1.45 ERA.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Josh Stowell, Deering: In his first season, Stowell directed the Rams to a 10-6 regular-season record and a prelim playoff victory over Cheverus before a 4-3 loss to Portland in the Western Class A quarterfinals. Stowell took over a program that had won only 10 games total the previous three years.

 


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