BASEBALL

Senior Sam Clark will be an ace for Cheverus’ baseball team this spring. File photos

Coach: Tony DiBiase (first year)

2019 record (no 2020 season): 10-8 (Lost, 4-0, to eventual state champion Scarborough in Class A South quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Sam Clark (Senior), Nick Giancotti (Senior), Jackson Header (Senior), Kevin Connolly (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 23 TA, April 27 @ South Portland, May 11 SCARBOROUGH, May 18 @ Gorham, May 22 PORTLAND, June 1 GORHAM

Coach’s comment: “We’ve had a wonderful spring. It’s a feeling-out process. Nothing is set in stone. We’re doing a lot of experimenting. The kids need to find their way through the varsity wars. Pitching should be our strength and will keep us in a lot of games. We want to stay healthy and peak at the end. By the end of the year, we think we can make some noise in the tournament.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus, which has posted a winning record five straight years, projects to be one of the top teams in Class A South yet again. The Stags have pitching experience that most teams envy and that will carry them a long way. The program is now guided by DiBiase, an accomplished veterans, who coached South Portland for 14 seasons and Portland for four before spending the past several years as an assistant at Falmouth. DiBiase likes what he’s seen so far.

Clark is a hard-throwing ace. He’ll play at the University of Connecticut next year and could be as good as any hurler in the league. Giancotti, a left-hander, will also be tough to hit, while Header, Cheverus’ Winter Male Athlete of the Year, will see time on the hill as well. Connolly, who saw varsity time as a freshman, is the catcher. Header, when he’s not on the mound, is a top outfielder. The Stags will have to rely on some untested kids on the infield (DiBiase suggested that freshmen may play both shortstop and third base).

This is a team that will have some learning moments, but figures to steadily improve in the weeks to come. If Cheverus can stay healthy, its pitching depth will position it to do great things in June. It could be quite a memorable debut campaign for DiBiase if all goes well.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Theresa Hendrix (third year, 11-22 overall record)

2019 record (no 2020 season): 8-9 (Lost, 12-9, to Bonny Eagle in Class A South preliminary round)

Top returning players: Madisyn Durgin (Senior), Mackenzie Turner (Senior)

Pivotal games: April 23 TA, April 28 @ South Portland, May 12 SCARBOROUGH, May 19 @ Gorham, May 22 PORTLAND, May 26 @ Biddeford, June 1 GORHAM

Coach’s comment: “The team’s going to have a new look this year, as there are only two players on the roster who are returning starters from the last time we took the field in 2019. This team has great depth and is made up of a group of versatile, strong competitors. Our goals are to focus on coming together as a new group, focusing on each day to grow our game and to compete at our highest level. There is a new energy on the field this season and it’s very special to be around.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: The program made nice strides in 2019, winning five more games than the year before and making the playoffs, but last spring’s lost season leaves just a pair of players with varsity experience. Regardless, the Stags should be competitive and will improve daily.

The anchors of the team will be Turner (an SMAA honorable mention all-star in 2019) on the mound and Durgin (an SMAA honorable mention all-star as a sophomore after hitting .545 with six home runs, 20 runs batted in and 13 runs scored) behind the plate. Both are captains, along with senior Mari-Beth Leavitt, who will be in the outfield. Senior Emma Langevin will see time at several different spots.

Other players will get their chance to seize a position in the lineup and if some promising youngsters develop as hoped, Cheverus could be in position to make a postseason run.

BOYS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Will Tuttle (first year)

2019 record (no 2020 season): 2-10 (no playoffs)

Top returning players: Michael Hartmann (Senior), Julian LaMontagne (Senior), Will Haley (Junior), Nico Nason (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 20 DEERING, April 23 @ Deering, May 11 @ Gorham, May 20 GORHAM

Coach’s comment: “As a new head coach, I can see how excited the boys are to have a season and they are very appreciative. It is remarkable to see how much they cherish practices and time together. They certainly do not take anything for granted. At a moment’s notice there could be an interruption or end to the season. Our goal is to have a full season and do what we can to have every game and practice possible. Our team is older and I can’t overstate how lucky we are to have so many of our athletes with one or two years of varsity lacrosse under their belts. After talking to other coaches of younger teams, the last organized lacrosse some of their players were able to participate in was in middle school. With our upperclassmen leadership, our goals are to continually get better as the season goes on and to be winning games as we move into the open playoff format.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus won just twice in both 2018 and 2019, but this year’s team appears primed to return the Stags to their accustomed place near the top of the standings. Cheverus welcomes a new coach in Tuttle, who played at Kennebunk High School, Exeter and Nazareth College. He’s previously coached at The Fessenden School in West Newton, Massachusetts. Spencer Tuttle, Will Tuttle’s brother, is an assistant on the team. They inherit a promising squad.

Offensively, the Stags will be led this year by Haley and LaMontagne. Hartmann and Nason, who are listed as midfielders, will be heard from as well on the offensive end. Look for senior Declan Danzig and sophomore Brogan Danzig to see time in the faceoff circle. Junior Matthew Bellantoni is in goal.

Cheverus has a manageable schedule and should enjoy more success than in recent seasons. If all goes well, the Stags could make a deep playoff run.

GIRLS’ LACROSSE

Senior Neve Cawley is back in goal this spring for Cheverus’ girls’ lacrosse team.

Coach: Sarah Varney (first year)

2019 record (no 2020 season): 9-5 (Lost, 11-10, to eventual state champion Falmouth in Class A North semifinals)

Top returning players: Neve Cawley (Senior), Emily Factor (Senior), Ava Rausch (Senior), Riley O’Mara (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 20 @ Massabesic, April 27 @ Gorham, April 29 SCARBOROUGH, May 5 @ Waynflete, May 12 NYA, May 17 PORTLAND, May 24 @ Windham, June 2 FALMOUTH

Coach’s comment: “If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to appreciate the simple little things we used to overlook and take for granted. Every Cheverus player, family and coach feels increasingly more excited, eager and thankful to be playing, coaching and watching games in person this season. The goal of our program is to approach all aspects of our season united and with grace. Throughout this past year, our athletes have overcome so much adversity with trust, dedication and hard work. As a coach, my goal is to provide a fun outlet for them that builds confidence, provides support and a sense of unity for these athletes. We have a young team made up of many natural athletes. Our foundation is solid and we plan to build upon this foundation by fine-tuning our lacrosse knowledge and skills. During any season there is so much we can’t control. This year especially, we’ve set our focus on working on the things we can control, our hustle on the field, positive mind-set and united attitude. We are mentally prepared to expect the unexpected this season and understand that at any moment we may have to pause and restart. Every team is up against this challenge, which will make this season unique for every team competing.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus is perennially one of the top teams in Class A North and that figures to be the case again this spring. The Stags welcome a new coach in Varney, who played at Hofstra and Villanova. She served as an assistant coach for three seasons with Falmouth and in 2018 as an assistant at Cheverus. She was in line to take over as coach last spring and is fired up to lead her group this season.

The Stags return some veterans at key positions, as Cawley (a captain and an SMAA honorable mention in 2019) returns in goal, Factor anchors the defense and O’Mara (a captain who made the SMAA All-Rookie team two years ago) will lead the attack and will also take draws. Senior Ava Rausch is the team’s third captain and is another anchor on defense. Keep an eye also on a couple freshmen who could step right in and excel, midfielder Reese Belanger and attack Makenzie Cash.

Cheverus has a daunting schedule and will stumble at times, but this squad will be battle-tested by June, when it matters most. Look for the Stags to continue to contend and don’t be surprised if they’re one of the last teams standing.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Record-setting state champion standout Victoria Bossong returns for one final outdoor track season before heading to Harvard University.  

Coach: John Wilkinson (second year)

2019 results (no 2020 season): 

(Girls) Class A state champions
(Boys) 8th @ Class A state meet

Top returning athletes:

(Girls) Helena Bolduc (Senior), Victoria Bossong (Senior)

(Boys) Gio Fornaro (Senior), Andrew Griffiths (Junior), Frank Morang (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “Having lost the last spring track season to the pandemic and having no competition since a year ago February, we are just trying to slowly build up the athletes’ strength and conditioning before jumping into event specific areas. Both teams are led by strong role models. The teams are happy to be able to practice and are looking forward to getting to compete again. Hopefully, some of the younger, less experienced athletes will blossom and help to continue our successful track tradition.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Both Cheverus outdoor teams can’t wait to show off their skills.

The girls are the reigning Class A champion and return one of the top sprinters of recent vintage in Bossong, who holds the Class A state record outdoors in the 200 and 400 (she won both at the 2019 state meet) and is also the defending champion in the 100. She’ll compete in the 800 and relays as well this season and should add to her accumulation of hardware before taking her show to Harvard University. Bolduc (hurdles) is another veteran. She’ll look to be a top scorer as well. Newcomers of note include sophomore sprinter Taylor Tory, sophomore distance runner Annabelle Brooks and sophomore thrower MingGe Daley. The Stags have the pieces in place to make a run at another title.

On the boys’ side, Fornaro is the seasoned veteran. He’ll be a top thrower (he was fourth in both the discus and shot put in 2019). Griffiths and Morang are hurdlers to watch. Morang also jumps, while Griffiths competes in the pole vault. Junior Jesse Cadigan (400, 800) and freshmen Jack Kingsley (400), Avery Lytle (throws) and Brendan Rogers (sprints and jumps) step right in to help the cause. Look for Cheverus to be strong in dual meets and be in the hunt for another top 10 finish at states.

BOYS’ TENNIS

Coach: Ben Putnam (fourth year)

2019 record (no 2020 season): 9-4 (Lost, 4-1, to Kennebunk, in Class A South quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Jackson Krieger (Junior), Odan Strock (Junior), Jack Williams (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “It’s been great to be out on the courts with the team again. Most of the boys have participated in other sports over the course of the year, but I think they’re excited to have the chance to play a full season with playoffs. It’s a funny year in that we don’t really have a good idea of where we fit in regards to the other teams in the league. Playing a limited schedule with the open playoff system in place will make for an interesting postseason. We have a lot of kids either new to the team or playing in different positions than they were two years ago, but if we can adjust to the circumstances and focus on our improvement, then we should be able to have another successful year.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus doesn’t have much experience this spring, but a strong group of newcomers bodes well for future success.

Senior Evangelo Kapothanasis, junior Bao Bui, sophomore Calvin Cutler and freshman Anton Behuniak make up the core and the three singles players will likely come from that group. Krieger, Strock and Williams are veterans, whose presence will help the Stags’ development.

If the Stags can fill some other spots, they’ll once again post a winning record and be in position come playoff time to make some noise.

GIRLS’ TENNIS

Coach: Jason Barriault (sixth year)

2019 record (no 2020 season): 10-4 (Lost, 4-1, to Scarborough in Class A South semifinals)

Top returning players: Paige Cutler (Junior), Kelly Gleysteen (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “It’s amazing to be back out on the courts and working with the athletes. I am happy that these girls get to finish off the school year playing tennis. This feels as close to normal as anything since the pandemic started. There were nine seniors last year that were unable to finish out their career. Currently, we only have two girls on the team that have ever played in a varsity match. They will likely be our 1 and 2 singles and from there, we will build out the rest of the roster with all new varsity starters. Our goal for this season is to continue to learn the game and get better. So far, I have been impressed by the team’s effort and attitude towards improvement. I feel confident that as we gain experience, we will continue to get more and more competitive throughout the year.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus has some holes to fill, but does feature some talent at the top.

Gleysteen projects to play first singles. Cutler will be in the No. 2 singles spot. Look for junior Sophia Thees to step in and play at third singles.

The Stags will then look to put their doubles teams together and if all goes well, they’ll be a top contender in Class A South. Once again.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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