BASEBALL

Sophomore Brian Connolly will be a top pitcher for Cheverus’ baseball team this spring. File photos

Coach: Tony DiBiase (second year)

2021 record: 13-6 (Lost, 2-1, to eventual state champion South Portland in Class A South semifinals)

Top returning players: Kevin Connolly (Senior), Orion Guibord (Senior), Richie Tremble (Senior), Braeden Watson (Senior), Matt Connor (Junior), Brian Connolly (Sophomore), Chris Murphy (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 26 @ Gorham, April 28 @ South Portland, May 12 FALMOUTH, May 17 @ Thornton Academy, May 19 SCARBOROUGH, May 31 @ Portland

Coach’s comment: “Last year, it took us awhile to get going, then we were really good. This year, we’re young and we lost two really good pitchers. We have to fill those positions, but our every day lineup looks pretty good. Having an open tournament allows us to experiment. If we can get our pitching going, I think we’ll be good by the end. We hope to peak at the end of the season.”

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The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus saved its best for last a year ago, making it all the way to the semifinals before losing to the eventual champions.

While Sam Clark and Nick Giancotti will be hard to replace on the mound, the Stags will turn to Brian Connolly (a first-team all-star as a freshman after hitting .305 and earning three saves), Connor, Tremble and junior Jacob Lucier to throw the lion’s share of the innings. Kevin Connolly, a captain, will be the catcher. He’s going to play at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts next year. Connor will be at shortstop when he’s not pitching. Connor hit .340 last season. Tremble, a captain, will be in the outfield when he’s not on the mound. Guibord, a captain, and Murphy will play corner infield positions. Watson, another captain, is at second base. Juniors Noah Kennedy-Jensen and Peyton Mitchell will round out the outfield.

The Stags aren’t worried so much about winning games early in the season as they are steadily improving and gaining confidence. Last year’s recipe of saving their best for last would work quite nicely for this team as well and it wouldn’t be a surprise if that’s exactly how things play out.

SOFTBALL

Freshman pitcher Ashley Connor could play a big role in Cheverus’ success this spring.

Coach: Theresa Hendrix (fourth year, 16-35 overall record)

2021 record: 5-13 (Lost, 8-2, to Marshwood in Class A South preliminary round)

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Top returning players: Olivia Bradford (Senior), Hayley Jordan (Senior), Kadynne Smith (Senior), Eadie Nadeau (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 27 @ South Portland, April 29 SCARBOROUGH, May 4 THORNTON ACADEMY, May 6 @ Biddeford, May 9 WINDHAM, May 31 PORTLAND

Coach’s comment: “As a growing program, we are very excited for this season. With a large group of seniors, passionate juniors and a crew of underclassmen who bring a lot of softball talent, it will allow for us to have a competitive season. There will be a new feel to the team this season with the additions of transfers and freshmen. It will be great to watch the new group mold and grow together throughout the season.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: It’s been a phenomenal school year for Cheverus’ girls’ athletics and Hendrix has been a big reason why, coaching the field hockey team its first state championship, then serving as an assistant on a girls’ basketball squad which also brought home a Gold Ball for the first time. Now in her fourth season with the softball team, Hendrix is putting the pieces in place for a true contender.

Freshman Ashley Connor will look to step in and make a key contribution on the mound. Bradford, the hockey standout, returns behind the plate and will see time at other positions as well. The infield is anchored by veterans Nadeau at third base and Smith at shortstop. Freshman Kali England will play first base and is another promising newcomer. Jordan, who helped Cheverus win a basketball title last month, will be in centerfield.

This is a squad which should show great improvement in the weeks to come and by season’s end, will be a very difficult out. A run at the program’s first winning record since 2014 is realistic. The present is promising and the future is even brighter for this program.

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BOYS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Will Tuttle (second year)

2021 record: 6-8 (Lost, 20-3, to Falmouth in Class A North quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Aiden Barbera (Senior), Will Haley (Senior), Nico Nason (Senior)

Pivotal games: April 22 @ Portland, May 17 @ Deering, May 20 WINDHAM

Coach’s comment: “We hope to go further in the playoffs than we did last year. We have an older team with experience. We would like to get to double digits in the win column, keep our goals against per game under 10 and clear the ball more than 80 percent of the time.”

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The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus is looking to continue its climb back into the upper echelon of Class A North teams and the pieces are in the place to do so this spring.

Haley was a first-team league all-star last season and will pace the attack. Nason is a top midfielder, who will take a lot of the faceoffs (senior Emmet Schuele will also get an opportunity). Barbera, an honorable mention all-star in 2021, paces the defense in front of either senior Matthew Bellantoni or freshman Charlie Majkwoski, who were vying for the goalie spot at press time.

The Stags have talent and a favorable schedule. Look for this squad to show gradual improvement and be very formidable by the time the games matter most.

GIRLS’ LACROSSE

Reese Belanger had a strong freshman campaign for Cheverus’ girls’ lacrosse team and will look to be a scoring force for the Stags this season.

Coach: Sarah Varney (second year)

2021 record: 2-11 (Lost, 15-1, to Windham in Class A North quarterfinals)

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Top returning players: Riley O’Mara (Senior), Claire Irons (Junior), Reese Belanger (Sophomore), Mackenzie Cash (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 19 LAKE REGION, April 26 SOUTH PORTLAND, May 3 FALMOUTH, May 12 @ Windham, May 18 PORTLAND, June 1 @ Kennebunk

Coach’s comment: “A successful season for us is one where our team maintains a positive environment and where all team members trust and support each other always. If we create that culture and continue to work hard on the fundamentals, we will ultimately have a winning season.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus’ 2021 mark is deceiving, as the Stags suffered four one-goal losses, including one in overtime. In reality, they were very competitive against a daunting slate and with a little luck, will be in a for big turnaround this spring.

The Stags return a standout in O’Mara, who won 92 draw controls a year ago, was an SMAA first-team all-star and was Cheverus’ top offensive weapon. She’ll anchor the attack with help from Cash. Belanger, an honorable mention all-star a year ago, who will also take some draws, and freshman Lucy Johnson, who has already dazzled this school year in field hockey and ice hockey, will also be involved in the offensive cause from their midfield position. Irons is the top returning defender. The Stags will need to replace departed all-star goalie Neve Cawley and will look to junior Elle Cooney or freshman Meredith McKeeman to do so.

Cheverus is excited for a new season, for good reason. The Stags will score their share of goals and will feature strong players up and down the field. Some early success could be huge for confidence. This will be a fun team to watch in the weeks to come.

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OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: John Wilkinson (second year)

2021 results: 

(Boys) 3rd @ Class A state meet
(Girls) tie-5th @ Class A state meet

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Jesse Cadigan (Senior), Andrew Griffiths (Senior), Frank Morang (Senior), Matthew Fogg (Junior), Bryan Stark-Chessa (Junior), Brendan Rogers (Sophomore)
(Girls) Leska Whitmarsh (Senior), Annabelle Brooks (Junior)

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Coach’s comment: “Both squads are hoping to qualify as many athletes as possible to the state meet. The boys’ team has a good number of seasoned athletes and is looking to be a top contender. The girls’ team will be looking for as many individual personal bests as possible and to keep the positive chemistry that we currently possess.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Both Cheverus outdoor teams are accustomed to being on the short list of top contenders and that will be the case again in 2022.

The boys return Morang, who not only is coming off a Winter Athlete of the Year-worthy indoor campaign, but he’s also the reigning Class A outdoor state champion in the long jump and the triple jump. Morang is also a top-notch hurdler (he was third in the 110 hurdles outdoors last year). Griffiths is dynamic in the hurdles as well (finishing sixth in the 300 hurdles last spring). He’ll also be a threat in the sprints, as will Fogg (who also jumps) and Rogers. Cadigan (sixth in the 800 a year ago) leads the way in the middle distance events and Stark-Chessa will contend in the mile and two-mile.

On the girls’ side, program legend Victoria Bossong has graduated and taken her talents to Harvard, so a lot of points will need to be replaced, but this squad will hold its own in the league. This spring, the Stags figure to be solid in longer races, as freshman Annie Vigue will contend in the 800 and Brooks (sixth in the mile last season) is a veteran in the mile and two-mile. On the field side, Whitmarsh hopes to score in the pole vault.

BOYS’ TENNIS

Coach: Ben Putnam (fifth year)

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2021 record: 8-6 (Lost, 3-2, to Falmouth, in Class A South quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Bao Bui (Senior), Jackson Krieger (Senior), Odan Strock (Senior), Jack Williams (Senior), Calvin Cutler (Junior), Anton Behuniak (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “Most of the team is back, but nearly everyone will be playing in a different position due to our number one singles player graduating. If we can settle into our new situations, then I think we’ll be able to be competitive in the league.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus will miss departed all-star Evangelo Kapothanasis, but is primed to post another impressive record and make the playoffs for the 21st straight season if all goes well.

The Stags have experience in Bui, Krieger, Strock and Williams. Look for Behuniak and Cutler to play bigger roles this season. Newcomers to watch include a pair of juniors, George Hughes and Eamon Swift.

Cheverus will have its hands full with the stronger teams in the league, but the regular season will serve as a good opportunity to improve and by the time the postseason rolls around, the Stags could be very dangerous.

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GIRLS’ TENNIS

Coach: Jason Barriault (seventh year)

2021 record: 8-6 (Lost, 5-0, to Kennebunk in Class A South quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Paige Cutler (Senior), Kelly Gleysteen (Senior), Sophia Thees (Senior)

Coach’s comment: “Last year, our lineup mostly consisted of girls who had never played varsity tennis before. This year, we brought back everyone and added a few new athletes who will contend to be in our top seven. Our goal this season is to build on the foundation from last year, continue to play competitive tennis and improve throughout the season. If everyone stays healthy and focused, I feel like we can position ourselves to be in the mix with some of the top teams by the time the postseason arrives.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus has enjoyed 11 consecutive winning seasons and playoff berths and that number figures to hit 12 this spring.

Cutler, Gleysteen and Thees are all experienced and will be part of the singles mix, although the exact order hadn’t been determined by press time. Junior Faith Majkowski is a newcomer who will step right in and make an impact.

The Stags hope to put together some strong doubles teams as well and if that happens, look for them to be pushing the elite teams in the region by the time the playoffs arrive.

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

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