1. Thornton Academy: With seven starters returning from last year’s Class A South finalist, the Golden Trojans loom as the team to beat. Coach John Provost has strong senior leadership in shortstop/pitcher Olivia Howe and catcher Jenica Botting, along with junior Amanda Bogardus, who will shift from second base to shortstop. The Trojans will be boosted by the addition of lefty pitcher/first baseman Abby Miner, a transfer from Lisbon. She can hit.

2. Scarborough: The two-time defending Class A champion and winner of 40 consecutive games will be right there again, even though the Red Storm graduated seven starters. That’s because Coach Tom Griffin still has junior pitcher Bella Dickinson, who can be unhittable at times. Second baseman Courtney Brochu, an exceptional defensive player, and pitcher/infielder Mia Kelley also return. If the new starters can make the jump to varsity, Scarborough will be tough again.

3. York: It all starts with pitching, and the Wildcats have one of the best in the state. Junior Abby Orso has recovered from the broken left arm that knocked her out for the season after she threw three shutouts. But Coach Kevin Giannino has more than just a pitcher. Five other starters return – catcher Kayla Dredge, first baseman Abi Kavanagh, outfielders Katie Tetreault and Meg Bachelder and third baseman Hannah Gennaro, who missed most of last year because of a concussion.

4. Noble: Start with Raegan Kelly, only a junior but already a two-time SMAA Pitcher of the Year. She gives the Knights an ace every day. Senior Kassidy Lessard is back in center field and junior Kelsey Lessard is back at second. Senior Abby Lewis adds a lot to the lineup. Coach Rick Melanson had to replace an All-State catcher, but junior Emily Sanfacon has stepped up after playing third base last year.

5. Oceanside: The Mariners lost in the Class B North final last year and have the ability to get back there. They will hit the ball and have one of the top pitchers in the state in senior Chloe Jones, who enters the season 15 strikeouts shy of 500. Senior catcher Abby Veilleux is a valuable hitter atop the lineup with her speed. Raechel Joyce, Kalli Grover and Jessica Watkinson add punch to the lineup.