South Portland’s Andrew Heffernan threw a complete game against Thornton Academy in the Class A South final, then shut out Edward Little in the state championship game. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

There was a recipe for beating Andrew Heffernan and the South Portland High baseball team this year. It just wasn’t easy to pull off.

Andrew Heffernan

“Against him, you have to score maybe two runs and then hold them to less than that,” said Thornton Academy Coach Jason Lariviere.

Thornton did get two runs against Heffernan – just the third and fourth earned runs he allowed all year – but South Portland prevailed in the Class A South final, 4-2.

In his final high school start, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound right-hander with precision control finished a standout three-year career with a three-hitter for a 3-0 victory in the Class A state final against Edward Little. He also was one of the top hitters in Class A South, the state’s deepest league, batting .415 with 10 extra-base hits, 16 RBI and 21 runs.

“He hit everybody,” said South Portland Coach Mike Owens. “Even take away his pitching, and he had a great season.”

That’s why Heffernan is our choice as the Varsity Maine Baseball Player of the Year, with acknowledgment that Old Town senior Gabe Gifford had a similarly special year for the Class B champion Coyotes.


“I’ve worked pretty hard and it’s nice to get toward the top of being considered among the better players in the state, so yeah, it’s definitely a big honor,” Heffernan said. “The state title was definitely the more important goal. Team success I always value over individual success, and I couldn’t have asked for any better teammates and any better coaches on this journey.”

Heffernan had six shutouts – two in the playoffs – while going 7-2 with eight complete games in 10 starts. He threw a pair of one-hitters. In the two starts he didn’t finish, Heffernan worked 8 1/3 scoreless innings against Sanford (South Portland won in 10 innings, 1-0) and 7 1/3 innings in a 2-1 loss to Gorham.

Over 71 innings, Heffernan allowed only 36 hits, struck out 96 and had a 0.39 ERA.

The stat that perhaps most explains Heffernan’s success is that he walked four batters.

“That’s crazy. This year, it was like video game numbers with four walks,” Owens said. “And the teams he threw against were really good.”

Even as a spindly 5-foot-11, 150-pound sophomore, working as a reliever in tight situations without much velocity, Heffernan refused to give in, walking just five hitters in 30 1/3 innings. In his Varsity Maine All-State junior season, he walked five in 53 2/3 innings. Add it up, and Heffernan walked 14 hitters while striking out 188 in 155 career innings in a South Portland uniform, with an ERA of 0.59 and a WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) of 0.65.


“Things worked out really well for me. When I was smaller, I had to be crafty in the way I got hitters out,” Heffernan said. “I had enough velo to keep them honest, but I had to learn how to pitch. … I had to develop other pitches, and then once I put on size and threw harder, then it was tough as a hitter.”

Heffernan did grow three inches while in high school. But much of Heffernan’s physical development was purposeful and self-motivated. When his freshman season was wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic, Heffernan compared himself to then South Portland seniors Hunter Owen and Noah Lewis, who had signed to play for Vanderbilt and Maine, respectively, and knew he needed to be stronger.

He went to his basement and began lifting weights, hitting off a tee, and throwing weighted balls against the wall. It was the start of what Heffernan calls “a passion” for improvement. After his sophomore season, he recognized he needed more professional training. With the help of Skolfield Sports Performance in Saco, he added 30 pounds, increased his strength, speed and mobility, and cleaned up his diet.

This season, sporting a mid-80s fastball with well-controlled curves, sliders, changeups and a swing-and-miss cutter, Heffernan dominated.

Heffernan plans to keep improving while at Merrimack College. “I’m glad to play Division I baseball, but that’s not the end goal for me,” Heffernan said.

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