BASEBALL

Coach: Mike Owens (10th year, 113-50 overall record)

2019 record (no 2020 season): 17-2 (Lost, 3-2, in 11-innings, to eventual champion Scarborough in Class A South Final)

Top returning players: Bradley McMains (Senior)

Pivotal games: April 23 @ Portland, April 27 CHEVERUS, May 8 TA, May 18 @ Scarborough, May 25 FALMOUTH, June 1 SCARBOROUGH

Coach’s comment: “We have talent, we’re just trying to figure out where guys fit. We’re young, but we have a strong sophomore class. We’ll get better as the year goes on. We’re just getting used to playing at the varsity level and at that speed. Hopefully we’ll peak at the end of the year. I think we’ll be really tough next year.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland has had its share of hard luck in recent seasons, but that shouldn’t detract from sustained excellence and some of the best teams in school history. Graduation has depleted the roster, but a new crop of Red Riots are primed to make their mark and this squad should show steady improvement as the season progresses.

McMains is the lone proven commodity. The left-handed pitcher will look to lead the way. Senior Noah Dryefus will catch. He wields a powerful bat as well. Three sophomores suggest that the future is bright. Nolan Hobbs, a pitcher and first baseman, can help out at the mound and on offense. Richard Gilboy will play first base and also see time as catcher. He’ll hit in the middle of the order. Andrew Heffernan can pitch and will also play second base.

South Portland just needs experience and playing in Class A South is going to prove to be a tough learning curve. While the Red Riots might not finish with the glowing record they’ve grown accustomed to in recent seasons, they will learn from the experience and will be a tough team to play when the postseason begins.

SOFTBALL

South Portland pitcher Mia Micucci turned heads with her ability on the mound as a freshman. She returns as the Red Riots’ ace this season. File photos.

Coach: Ralph Aceto (ninth year, 116-33 overall record, one state championship)

2019 record (no 2020 season): 12-7 (Lost, 12-0, in five-innings, to eventual champion Scarborough in Class A South semifinals)

Top returning players: Julia Connors (Senior), Chloe Grant (Senior), Elise Connors (Junior), Mia Micucci (Junior), Eliese Perron (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 23 @ Portland, May 5 @ Gorham, May 8 TA, May 19 @ Scarborough, May 29 @ Biddeford, June 1 SCARBOROUGH

Coach’s comment: “It’s great to be back outside. My juniors played quite a bit as freshmen. We only have two seniors, but I’m very impressed with our freshmen and sophomores. I’ll have a lot of decisions to make. We can hit, but you have to be able to catch the ball too. If I can get the kids to buy in and if I can put them in the right spots, we’ll be an upper echelon team. Top four and (the regional final) is the goal.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland should be one of the best teams in Class A South this season and with Scarborough appearing mortal, the Red Riots could wind up the best team in the region if everything falls into place.

Micucci is back as the ace. She was stellar as a freshman, earning SMAA all-star mention after winning eight games and posting an earned run average of 2.99. She could be even better this season. Micucci is a strong hitter as well. She batted .270 and hit a home run in 2019, Sophomore Delaney Whitten will be the catcher, with Elise Connors catching when she’s not playing shortstop. Connors, an honorable mention all-star two years ago, could be one of the team’s top hitters. Other veterans include Grant, a starter since freshman year, who will play second base and be a captain, Julia Connors, another captain, who will be either at first base or in the outfield and Perron, who will play centerfield. Junior Maddie Jamison can play third base or the outfield and is a formidable hitter. A pair of freshmen will play key roles. Andrea DiMauro will be the team’s number two pitcher and will also see time on the infield. She’ll be a tough out at the plate. Ella Nickerson can play either shortstop or third base and she wields a potent bat too.

Aceto likes what he has to work with. The Red Riots will face their share of bumps in the road, but this team’s upside is undeniable. South Portland has to be on the short list of favorites this season.

BOYS’ LACROSSE

Junior Cullen Adams is one of just two experienced returners for South Portland’s boys’ lacrosse team this spring.

Coach: Dan Hanley (first year)

2019 record (no 2020 season): 10-4 (Lost, 9-5, to Cape Elizabeth in Class A South semifinals)

Top returning players: Nick Tolan (Senior), Cullen Adams (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 21 @ TA, April 29 @ Scarborough, May 1 TA, May 8 @ Falmouth, May 11 SCARBOROUGH, May 20 FALMOUTH, May 22 @ Greely, May 25 CAPE ELIZABETH

Coach’s comment: “We’re very young. We only return two players with varsity experience. We had a big senior class last year. We’re very sophomore-heavy. They’re good athletes. We want to get better every day. We have talent, but we lack experience. We have pieces at each position. We have a gauntlet of a schedule. It’s not just about this year. It’s about developing to compete at a higher level.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland was hit as hard by the 2020 season cancellation as anyone. The Red Riots were primed to seriously compete, but it wasn’t to be and this year’s team has almost varsity experience. That will make things challenging for first-year coach Hanley, who starred for Falmouth (Class of 2010) and later played at Bowdoin College, but he welcomes the challenge.

South Portland returns Tolan at attack and Adams, the school’s Winter Male Athlete of the Year, at midfield. Sophomore Ben Kieu will be in goal this season. After that, a lot of spots are there for the taking. The Red Riots have a lot of promising youth, but they need game reps and most of the team’s games are against the best teams in the region.

Nothing will come easily, but you’ll see a markedly improved team from April to June. South Portland’s future is bright and the seeds of success will be planted in the weeks to come.

GIRLS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Colleen Fleming (first year)

2019 record (no 2020 season): 7-7 (Lost, 12-3, to Kennebunk in Class A South semifinals)

Top returning players: Emma Darling (Senior), Phoebe Sykes (Senior), Abby Trefsger (Senior), Annie Von Seggern (Senior), Kate Von Seggern (Senior), Barrett Backman (Junior), Zoe Baker (Junior)

Pivotal games: May 1 @ Portland, May 7 @ Kennebunk, May 10 GORHAM, May 18 @ Scarborough, May 21 @ Cheverus, May 27 @ Gorham

Coach’s comment: “The best words I can think of to describe my thoughts on returning to play is just pure excitement. Excitement for every student-athlete that they get to get back out there and play the sport they love. They can finally have something to look forward to. Something to get them up and moving and working hard. Losing the season and basically all sense of structure last spring took a huge hit on morale and the overall growth of these kids. They need this now, more than any other year. I’m honored to be a part of it. One of our biggest goals this year is to be resilient. The pandemic has taught us all that anything can happen. The majority of what happens in sports and in life is uncontrollable and unpredictable. No matter what happens, we have to be ready to bounce back and control what we can control. This is a rebuilding year for our team and it’s going to be a learning season for all of us. We’re going to work through it together and learn and grow as a family. And most importantly, we’re just going to be grateful for having a season at all. We’re making the most of what we have and we’re going to have fun with it.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland brings home a familiar face to coach this season. Fleming started playing lacrosse in the third grade and played for the Red Riots, serving as a captain in 2015. She then went on to play at the University of Southern Maine, where she was a captain for two seasons and eclipsed 100 career points. Fleming has coached at the middle school level in Falmouth and Windham and served as an assistant at USM as well. She was planning to be South Portland’s assistant coach last year, but never got the chance. Now, she inherits a team that could sneak up on some people in the weeks to come.

This year’s offense will be led by Baker, an SMAA All-Rookie team selection in 2019, at attack and Backman, Annie Von Seggern (who takes draws) and Kate Von Seggern in the midfield. Defensively, Darling, Sykes and Trefsger have experience. Freshman Maddie Fitzherbert will provide depth at that end of the field in front of new goalie, freshman Emily Keefe.

This will be a fun team to watch as it grows and gains confidence. The Red Riots should be competitive with just about everyone on the schedule and could be a challenging foe when the playoffs commence.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Junior Geneva Holmes will be a top jumper for South Portland’s girls’ outdoor track team this season. Contributed photo.

Coaches:

(Boys) Dave Kahill (13th year)

(Girls) Karen Reardon (ninth year)

2019 results (no 2020 season): 

(Boys) 9th @ Class A state meet
(Girls) 6th @ Class A state meet

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Nic Borelli (Senior), Brian Dibra (Senior), T.J. Vose (Senior), Paul Zechman (Senior), Carson Blake (Junior), Eben Drolet (Junior), Brady Guay (Junior), Alex Kellough (Junior), Lucas Lefebvre (Junior), Jacob Ramos (Junior)

(Girls) Traci Francis (Senior), Fiona Stawarz (Senior), Julianne Coyne (Junior), Geneva Holmes (Junior)

Coach Kahill’s comment: “Like many groups around the state, the boys are yearning for the camaraderie and competitiveness of athletics and they are doing a fantastic job with COVID-19 safety protocols. The upperclassmen have the great task of re-establishing enthusiasm, fellowship, focus, skills and competitiveness of the team since none of the freshman or sophomores have participated in high school outdoor track before this season. We have upper-class leadership in many areas of the team. Ultimately, the team definitely has some championship-quality talent and should be ready to compete with most teams throughout the season, but improving throughout the team will determine our overall success.”

Coach Reardon’s comment: “The last time our freshmen and sophomores did outdoor track, they were in the seventh and eighth grades, so it has been awhile and they have changed so much since they last tried things, therefore it is exciting to watch them come back to the sport and learn all the new things they are capable of just because they are older, stronger and getting to do events they might never have tried before. It is a lot of fun coaching them. Our number one goal this season is to have a season. The team is starved for the chance to compete. Number two, no more remote practices. We did that forever indoors and it was awful after a week. We did it for a month or more. Number three, we want to get back to being a track and field athlete where you have goals, you compete against others, try to beat them and work on progressing each meet, adjusting your technique, working to get faster and stronger so you can run, jump, and throw faster, further, and higher. The girls are working hard and are excited to have some meets to point toward. As a coach, I am too. We have 25 girls excited to be out for the team and we can’t wait to get back on the track. We all need to be a team again.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland is very happy to be back outside and both squads have the pieces in place to have a successful campaign.

The boys’ squad returns Drolet, who placed fifth in the racewalk at the 2019 Class A state meet. He’ll look to finish even higher this spring. He’s the lone returning scorer, but there are other veterans poised to excel. Sprinters to watch include Kellough and Lefebvre. Borelli, Guay and Ramos are top middle distance runners. Vose and Zechman lead the distance contingent. Blake is a hurdler to watch and Guay will also take part in that event. On the field side, top jumpers include Borelli and Guay. Borelli also throws, as does Dibra. Several newcomers show promise too. Junior Amir Broadus could be a top thrower in the league.  Classmate Tom Wilson can run everything from sprints to the mile. Sophomores David Botelho, Wyatt Haley, Kyle Hartford, Harrison Jones, Jack Nickerson and Jack Smart will help with track events. Freshman Che-Hao Saito will compete in the hurdles and jumps and Ryan Gibbons is an up-and-coming thrower. It all adds up to a promising squad that should be very tough in dual meets and one which should make another run at a top 10 finish at states.

On the girls’ side, Coyne was part of a third place 1,600 relay team in 2019. She’ll be a top sprinter this spring, as will Francis, who holds the school record in the 55 indoors and plans to run next year at Vassar College in New York. Holmes was seventh in the shot put two years ago. She’s a talented thrower, who can also score in the jumps. Stawarz is another returning jumper and thrower. Juniors Bonny Johnston (sprints and throws) and Katie Nakummun (pole vault, throws and hurdles) are other veterans. Newcomers include juniors Jenna Ball (jumps, throws and sprints) and Ally Richards (sprints and jumps), sophomores Anna Brown (sprints, hurdles), Sammi Duffy (sprints and jumps), Lily Henriksen (middle distance) and Ava Smart (sprints) and freshmen Olivia Bean (sprints, hurdles, jumps), Samantha Clyde (sprints, jumps), Christie Cole (sprints and jumps) and Cassandra Porter (throws). South Portland’s depth will allow it to taste plenty of success in the weeks to come.

BOYS’ TENNIS

Coach: Tom Hyland (12th year)

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

Top returning players: Ben Hyland (Junior), Michael Mitton (Junior), Dominic Salow (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “Returning to action is a great feeling. The kids are happy to be out in the fresh air with their friends and respectfully following the protocols that are in place. After not playing last season, the boys began with some rust, but the very nice weather these past three weeks has enabled us to get back into physical shape and tennis form. This season, no one knows what other teams have, which makes it quite fun. As always, we will work hard, be good sportsmen and be highly competitive. We have great kids with even better attitudes. Being together outdoors and playing tennis is indeed a thrill for all involved.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland is coming off a terrific season in 2019 and the Red Riots look to keep the good times rolling this spring under Tom Hyland and his assistant, South Portland graduate Matt Russell.

Mitton returns and will play first singles. Ben Hyland is also in the singles mix. Kyle Rand, who is new to the team, will likely be in the No. 2 singles spot. Salow is a veteran who plays doubles. Seniors Nolan Bartlett and Ryan O’Hare join the team and will likely play doubles as well. Freshmen Eli Falakto, Brady Hulsey and Sam Scott provide promise for the future.

The Red Riots will take some time to hit their stride, but this team should be able to hang tough against just about every foe.

GIRLS’ TENNIS

Coach: Elizabeth Scifres (21st year)

2019 record (no 2020 season): 6-7 (Lost, 5-0, to Portland in Class A South preliminary round)

Coach’s comment: “The girls are just excited to be on the courts and with each other. They are eager to work hard and compete. I was concerned that all the protocols would hamper their enthusiasm or create problems, but they haven’t. The players just do what is expected of them and get on with what we’re there to do. The young players miss the presence of the upperclassmen, as do I, and it is clear this is a building year, however, these freshmen and sophomores have shown that they learn quickly and will continue to improve in skill as well as in understanding high school competition. Our goals for the season are to re-establish our norms and traditions, improve individually and be competitive in our matches against other teams. Players will have to compete before they are ready, but that’s just how it is. They will all have the opportunity to continue to improve their games. I predict the team will spend the first match or two just getting used to playing. If we can come together and be supportive of each other, improve over the season and win a few matches, I think our season will have been a success.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: South Portland is essentially starting from scratch this season.

Freshman Ryan Richambault will likely be in the first singles role. Classmate Amara Quimby will also be heard from. Freshman Kaitlyn Foster is in the second singles position. Sophomore Abbie Morin and freshman Maggie Truman were battling for the No. 3 singles position at press time. Other new players to watch include Madeline Churchill, Victoria Goode, Grace Kelly, Holly Kimball, Ana McDonald and Maddie Sapuan.

The Red Riots will face a learning curve this season, but they should be dramatically improved between April and the end of the season. This is a program whose future is bright.

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

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