Senior Caden Horton has been a captain for the football and baseball teams at South Portland High. The Red Riots (17-1) will play for the Class A South baseball championship Wednesday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Caden Horton joined the South Portland High varsity baseball team late in his freshman season. Since then he’s become one of the team’s most valuable players.

As a senior captain, he handles a pitching staff that has two NCAA Division I recruits – juniors Hunter Owen (Vanderbilt) and Noah Lewis (Maine) – and tries to set an example for the rest of the team, which finished the regular season 15-1 and ranked first in Class A South. The Red Riots will play Scarborough for the regional championship Wednesday.

Q: How did you become a catcher?

A: I started in Little League, my coach put me there and I fell in love with the position. I love catching for my guys here.

Q: You’re catching two guys who are going on to pitch in Division I. What’s that like?

A: It’s awesome. Not all teams in Maine have two guys going DI for pitching.

Q: How are they different?

A: I mean one pitcher (Lewis) is kind of serious when he’s on the mound, the other guy (Owen) is loose out there – he keeps me relaxed. If I make a mistake behind the plate he’ll pick me up.

Q: You’re one of only two seniors on this team. Has the season been a surprise?

A. No, I’ve known these guys pretty much my whole life and I knew the junior class would do something special. Next year they can be unreal.

Q: Obviously you have family ties with baseball here at South Portland, your dad (Mike) played here as did your two brothers (Zach and Brendan). Did that create a bond in your family?

A: Yeah. Brendan and Zach, I watched every game and my dad was my coach. He was coaching me in Little League until I got to high school. All three of them were my role models in baseball. It was pretty cool.

Q: What did you learn from them?

A: My brother Brendan passed away in 2016. He taught me … he was a competitor, a fighter his whole life. He was diagnosed with cancer when he was 16 and he battled for five years so I mean he taught me a bunch about life. To have fun.

Q: Do you still think about him when you play?

A: Sure thing. Every time I go into the box, I write a little B right next to the batter’s box just to remind me of him. And then, my freshman year we had Cancer Day when we wore the yellow jerseys with the BH on the back. That was awesome, the support we had.

Q: You were a freshman when he passed away. How did you get through that time? It had to be difficult for you.

A: It was. When he was in hospice I would go to the batting cages, they had a thing going on at Maine Hits. I would take that time to free my mind from whatever was going on, just go out there and hit baseballs with my friends. Baseball had helped me a lot through this. It kept me busy, not really thinking about it a lot, especially as a freshman.

Q: What’s the hardest thing you have to do as a catcher?

A: Good question. I’d have to say making sure everyone is doing their job right, especially in the middle of the game. Say the bases are loaded or we’re down a couple of runs, just stay positive and be a leader behind the plate.

Q: What can you take from football that you can bring to baseball.

A: Just the family atmosphere. I was captain for football, too. The tight-knit community we have in South Portland is awesome.

Q: Is there pressure being a captain in two sports?

A: I mean, kind of. But our whole team is a bunch of leaders. Everyone holds each other accountable. It’s not just me out there leading; everyone is a leader.

Q: You’re going to go to college next year and play at USM?

A: I’m going to try. They’ve got a good team at USM.

Q: What do you have to do to become part of that team?

A: I’ve got to work hard in the summer. I’ve got until August. Hit the weights, work on my craft, get better.

Q: What’s the best ending for this season?

A: State championship.

Q: What do you have to do to achieve it?

A: Keep competing, can’t relax. If we put up three in the first inning we’ve got to put up three more in the next inning. Keep going, can’t just stop. Get the bats going. Be relaxed. Can’t be all tight. Got to have fun.

Q: Having fun seems to be a big thing for you.

A: Oh yeah, if you’re not having fun doing something, then why are you doing it? Out here you have to have fun. If you’re going to play all tight, you’re going to make more mistakes then usual. So you’ve got to have fun.

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