Scarborough: Once again Coach Tom Griffin’s defending Class A state champions Red Storm are the team to beat, even with the loss of two all-state pitchers. Senior Chloe Griffin gives Scarborough a great bat and one of the state’s best pitchers. She’ll be joined by sophomore Bella Dickinson, who throws very hard, in the pitching circle. The entire infield returns – Felicia O’Reilly at first, Courtney Brochu at second, Laura Powell at shortstop and Lindsey Kelley at third – and Sam Carreiro is back in the outfield. Power-hitting Hunter Greenleaf will be the catcher. Scarborough can pitch, field and hit – and hit with power.

Thornton Academy: If there’s a team that can beat Scarborough, this might be it. The Trojans return a very powerful squad, led by senior pitcher Louisa Colucci, senior second baseman Kaitlin Verreault and junior shortstop Olivia Howe. Verreault and Howe were first-team SMAA all-stars, Colucci second-team. They will all pitch, giving Coach John Provost as deep a staff as there is in the state. Throw in catcher Jenica Botting and third baseman Hannah Collins and the Trojans have a great core group to build around. As always with them, it comes down to defense.

Windham: Seven starters return from last year’s Class A South semifinalists. The Eagles will be led by sophomore catcher/outfielder Chloe Wilcox, an exceptional hitter and athlete. They have strong senior leadership from shortstop Lauren Talbot, third baseman Alex Morang and catcher Megan Joy. Sophomore Whitney Wilson will be the No. 1 pitcher. Junior Erin Elder will play second and also pitch. Windham won a lot of games with power bats last year. This year might be more small ball. But however they play, the Eagles are going to score runs.

Wells: When you return one of the best pitchers in the state, as Wells does, everything else will fall into place. Senior lefty Anya Chase is back and determined to get the Warriors past the regional title game this year. She’s a strikeout pitcher who can also win games with her bat and speed. She’s joined by seniors Samantha Bogue (first base), Olivia Clay (center field) and Olivia Durfee (middle infield) and junior Karissa Kenyon (pitcher/middle infield) to give Coach Kevin Fox a strong core. If the young players step up, Wells is the team to beat in Class B South.

Massabesic: The Mustangs are considered a dangerous team by most coaches. They return some of the top young players in the SMAA and certainly could make a long run in the playoffs. Junior Lacey Bean has been a two-time SMAA all-star and now moves behind the plate to her natural position, catcher. She hit .552 last year. Junior Grace Tutt is back as pitcher. She hit .507 last year and is considered hard to hit. Senior Cayleigh Morris will also pitch and play third.

Medomak Valley: Coach Richard Vannah returns everyone from last year’s Class B North quarterfinalists and the Panthers loom as one of the top contenders in a very tough region. Medomak has a hard-hitting offense, led by senior third baseman Hallie Kunesh (.467), senior pitcher/outfielder Gabby DePatsy (.432, six home runs) and junior first baseman Lydia Simmons (.461). Junior lefty Addie Jameson is also someone to watch. She hit .402 last year with a 1.32 ERA.

Portland: Senior Jess Brown, last year’s Gatorade Player of the Year, is back to pitch and that gives the Bulldogs a step up on many teams. The Bulldogs are going to have to replace some big hitters and will rely on defense more this year. Brown struck out 134 last year. Senior Kit Rosmus is a four-year starter in center field and junior Grace Stacey is a three-year starter at third. Sophomore Elaina Legere returns as the catcher but Portland has to replace its middle infield. Sophomore Callie Watson will be at short and Sydney Gilbert at second.

Noble: The Knights return all but one starter from last year and will be in the thick of the race again. Sophomore Raegan Kelly is back to pitch and she’s nearly unhittable when she’s on. She’s throwing to senior catcher Mackenzie Aleva, who is one of the best all-around players in the SMAA and heading to American International College. First baseman Jordan Boucher, outfielder Kassidy Lessard and second baseman Kelsey Lessard add depth and talent. Overlook this team at your own risk.

Gray-New Gloucester: The Patriots have eight players returning from a team that reached the quarterfinals last year, including senior pitcher Allie Martell, who’s been one of the best in the WMC for three years. Also returning is junior catcher Alexa Thayer, providing a calming influence behind the plate. Sophomore first baseman Jordan Grant and sophomore second baseman Izzy Brindley return as starters. If the Patriots get some offense, they should be in contention again.

Sacopee Valley: In Class C South, the Hawks should be one of the top teams. Five senior starters return from last year’s quarterfinal team, including strikeout pitcher Brynn Hink and catcher Grace Sanborn, who have been working together since they were 8. They’re both among the team’s leading hitters as well, with Hink hitting .375 and Sanborn .400 last year. Junior third baseman Brenna Humphrey is back and freshmen Riley Vacchiano and Lakyn Hink will add pop in the batting order.