PORTLAND—Cheverus’ softball team has been longing for a close game.

Friday afternoon, hosting Gorham at Shea Field, the Stags got one.

And despite some anxious moments, they found a way to pass the test and keep their magical season going in perfect fashion.

Cheverus’ freshman ace Addison DeRoche put a runner in scoring position in the top of the first inning with a walk and a wild pitch, but settled down and retired the side.

After not scoring in the bottom of the first for the first time all spring, the Stags then got the lone run they’d need in the second, as sophomore second baseman Anna Goodman ripped a double and came home on an RBI ground ball off the bat of sophomore third baseman Anna Kennedy-Jensen.

DeRoche didn’t allow a hit until the fourth and in the bottom of the fifth, she added to the lead with her bat, crushing a two-run home run to centerfield.


With junior catcher Bella Napolitano Aberle throwing out a pair of runners trying to steal, Cheverus was able to slam the door and DeRoche struck out the final two hitters to bring the curtain down on an inspirational 3-0 victory.

DeRoche allowed just one hit, had a mighty hit of her own, struck out 15 and helped the Stags improve to 9-0 on the season, dropping the Rams to 7-3 in the process.

“You have to be tested and Gorham was circled on the calendar,” said Cheverus’ first-year coach John Eisenhart. “We knew before the season it would be a tough game for us and we knew today that it would be a challenge. It was just a fun day at the park.”

Challenge accepted

Cheverus’ season had been largely devoid of drama, as the Stags have consistently put away foes early and in most cases, rolled to mercy rule victories.

Cheverus started with decisive wins over host Sanford (25-0, in three-innings), visiting Scarborough (6-0), visiting Kennebunk (10-0, in six-innings) and visiting Marshwood (10-0, in five-innings). After holding off visiting Bonny Eagle (7-3), the Stags had no trouble with host Noble (16-0, in three-innings), host South Portland (13-0, in five-innings) or visiting Deering (15-0, in three-innings).


Gorham, meanwhile, has enjoyed several lopsided victories of its own, but had stumbled twice.

After starting with a 22-3 victory over Falmouth, the Rams blanked Massabesic (14-0) and Portland (9-0), then lost to reigning Class A champion Windham (13-0). After a 14-3 victory over Westbrook, Gorham dropped a narrow 2-1 decision at South Portland, as the tying run was thrown out at the plate to end the game. The Rams bounced back to knock off Scarborough (2-1), Sanford (17-0) and Kennebunk (10-0).

A year ago, Gorham won at Cheverus, 6-3.

Friday, on a comfortable afternoon (51 degrees with light wind at first pitch), the Rams looked to make it four straight in the series, but instead, the Stags managed to do just enough to beat Gorham for the first time since May 15, 2019 (10-1 at home).

Cheverus freshman Addison DeRoche delivers to Gorham junior first baseman Winnie Dubail to start Friday’s contest, won by the Stags, 3-0. Hoffer photos.

DeRoche started the game by fanning junior first baseman Winnie Dubail, but she fell behind senior centerfielder Kyleah Mack 3-0, worked the count full, then threw ball four. With senior Amber Bretton, her opposite number, at the plate, DeRoche threw a wild pitch high and Dubail took second and Eisenhart came out to settle down his ace.

It worked like a charm, as DeRoche flipped the switch, struck out Bretton with some high heat, then she fanned senior shortstop Andi Cloutier as well to keep the game scoreless.


“Coach just said, have confidence and breathe,” DeRoche said. “I try to focus on taking belly breaths.”

Gorham senior pitcher Amber Bretton throws a strike to Cheverus’ Kelsey Cassidy in the bottom of the first.

Bretton impressed in the bottom half, getting senior shortstop Kelsey Cassidy to chase strike three, junior rightfielder Delia Tremble to ground a 3-2 pitch back to the mound and sophomore centerfielder Hailey Lamontagne to pop out to second.

The Stags, who scored 39 first inning runs in their first eight games, had finally come up empty.

DeRoche made quick work of the Rams in the top of the second, getting sophomore third baseman Sawyer Vonderhaar to ground back to the mound on an off-speed pitch before striking out both senior second baseman Makayla Quintal and junior catcher Lucy Dubail.

Cheverus then scored the only run it would need in the bottom half.

DeRoche led off by striking out on a 2-2 pitch, but Goodman got things going by reaching out and lining a shot over the head of sophomore rightfielder Terra Rioux. The ball one-hopped the wall and despite stumbling over the first base bag, Goodman got to second with a double.


“I was just trying to make contact,” said Goodman. “I’ve been trying to work on my hitting because I haven’t been hitting the best this season. We always work after practice and try to get extra reps. I knew the hitting would come eventually. We kept our heads up.”

“Anna Goodman stepped up,” Eisenhart said. “She does really well against good pitching. She’s a really good hitter and that’s why she hits fifth. She had a great day at the plate. She wasn’t happy how she hit last game and she stayed after practice working hard and you can see the results.”

Junior first baseman Ashley Connor followed with a sharp single to right, putting runners at the corners. After Connor stole second, Kennedy-Jensen got the job done, grounding out to short, and Goodman came home with the game’s first run.

“We want to be aggressive on the bases and my mindset is to try and score,” Goodman said. “Coach talks to me a lot to make sure I do what he wants me to do.”

Connor tried to take third on the play, but was thrown out.

Regardless, Gorham was behind and the Rams couldn’t respond in the top of the third.


DeRoche fanned junior leftfielder Lily Tukey leading off, then caught Rioux looking at strike three before getting Dubail to ground out to short on a bang-bang play to end it.

Cheverus had a golden opportunity to open up a commanding lead in the bottom half, but it left the bases loaded.

Napolitano Aberle led off with a rocket to right, but Rioux sprawled and made the catch for the first out. Freshman rightfielder Abby Kelly then drew a walk on a 3-1 pitch and Cassidy lined the first pitch she saw up the middle for a single to put runners at first and second. When Tremble worked a walk on a 3-2 pitch, the table was set, but Lamontagne hit a line shot right at Cloutier at short for the second out, then DeRoche took a 3-2 pitch on the inside corner for strike three and the score remained 1-0.

“I was kind of mad of myself because that was a good situation to swing and I got myself out, but I knew the next at-bat was the most important one,” said DeRoche, who would prove to be prophetic.

DeRoche fanned Mack leading off the fourth, but Bretton managed to bloop a base hit over Goodman’s head and into right-center. Senior Emily Bennett came on as a courtesy runner and tried to steal second, but Napolitano Aberle threw her out. Cloutier then watched strike three to retire the side.

In the bottom half, Goodman reached when she beat out an infield single off the glove of Vonderhaar. Connor sacrificed her to second, but she’d be stranded, as Napolitano Aberle grounded out to second, then Kelly bounced back to the mound.


DeRoche made quick work of Gorham in the top of the fifth, fanning Vonderhaar on a 3-2 pitch, getting Quintal to bunt the ball to first, where Connor made the tag, then getting Dubail to chase strike three.

DeRoche then gave herself some breathing room in the bottom of the frame.

Courtesy one mighty swing.

The inning began inauspiciously, as Cassidy grounded out to Bretton and Tremble popped out to second, but Lamontagne worked a walk on a 3-2 pitch, bringing up DeRoche and this time, the phenom didn’t miss, lining a 2-1 pitch to dead center, over the head of Mack and just over the centerfield fence for a two-run home run and a 3-0 lead.

The home run was the first of DeRoche’s high school career, was Cheverus’ first of the season, and set off a wild celebration at the plate.

“I was just looking to put a good swing on the ball,” DeRoche said. “I just wanted to see a good pitch. I thought it was just a line drive to centerfield, but the best home runs are the ones when you don’t know. It gave us more wiggle room.”


“Hailey’s one of the best hitters in the league and she put together a great at-bat and set the table for Addison, then Addison’s home run was huge,” said Eisenhart. “She was not happy about her previous at-bat, but she’s a competitor.”

Goodman nearly duplicated DeRoche’s feat, as she drove the ball deep to left-center, but it died at the fence and was caught by Tukey for the third out.

Tukey then led off the top of the sixth, but was out DeRoche-to-Goodman covering on a bunt. Senior Gretchen Dixon then struck out pinch-hitting, watching strike three, but Dubail drew a walk, then stole second. Mack had a chance to deliver the run, but she took strike three for the third out.

In the bottom half, Connor bounced back to the mound and after Kennedy-Jensen reached on an infield single of Bretton’s glove, Napolitano Aberle grounded into a pitcher-to-shortstop force out and after freshman courtesy runner Madalyn Zdunczk moved to second on a wild pitch, sophomore Sadie Collins grounded out to short to send the game to the top of the seventh.

Where DeRoche and Company slammed the door.

Bretton drew a walk on a 3-1 pitch, but Napolitano Aberle threw her out trying to steal.


“Bella gutted it out and made some great throws today,” Eisenhart said. “Kelsey Cassidy made some nice picks with runners coming at her to make the tag.”

DeRoche then did the rest, fanning Cloutier on a 2-2 pitch before blowing strike three past Vonderhaar to make the 3-0 victory official.

“We all knew how competitive this game would be and that Gorham was a great team,” said DeRoche. “We came in firing on all cylinders and made sure we were on top of our game.”

“Gorham’s a great team and it was really fun to play against them,” Goodman said.

“It was fun for our kids to play in a close game like that,” added Eisenhart. “Winning breeds winning. When the game’s hanging in the balance, they don’t panic. They were pretty nervous prior to the game, but they settled in. You have to play in these close games to have experience for the next one.”

DeRoche finished with a one-hit shutout, walking three and striking out 15.


“I didn’t feel like I was on my stuff totally, but I was confident,” DeRoche said.

“We’re all so happy for (Addison),” said Goodman. “She’s such a great player. She’s really calm and collected. She doesn’t get down on herself or get too excited. She’s really focused. As her teammates, we pull her up when something doesn’t go her way.”

“Addison battled through not having her best stuff or hitting her spots,” Eisenhart added. “She just did what she does, compete the whole way through. She found a way to win. She can throw four pitches for a strike in any count. For me, it’s easy calling pitches because she’s so good.”

Goodman (two hits and a run scored) and DeRoche (home run, run scored, two RBI) paced the offense. Lamontagne also crossed the plate and Kennedy-Jensen drove in a run.

The Stags left six runners on base.

Bretton was the tough-luck loser for Gorham, giving up three runs on six hits in six innings. Bretton walked four and struck out three.


“Amber was fantastic,” said Rams coach Jason Dubail. “She mixed up her pitches. She threw a ton of strikes. We’re really happy with how she pitched.”

“Amber was incredible today,” Eisenhart said. “She didn’t give us much and what we got, we had to earn, so hats off to her. We did our best to prepare for Amber. Beyond the first inning, I really liked the at-bats we had. We just couldn’t cash in, but we hung in.”

Gorham only managed one hit and left two runners on base.

“I’m happy with the way we played,” Jason Dubail said. “Anytime you get to face a great pitcher like Addison, it makes you better. She pitched fantastically and we put up some good at-bats and hopefully, we’ll get another chance against her. It’s hard enough to get a runner to second, let alone getting her in. It takes two or three really good at-bats consecutively, which is really hard against a good pitcher like that.”

A full week

Gorham (currently ranked fourth in the Class A South Heal Points standings) is back in action Monday, when Marshwood pays a visit.


“We’ll take all of our lessons we’ve learned so far and we’ll be ready for the playoffs in the beginning of June,” said Jason Dubail.

Cheverus, meanwhile, has four games next week. The Stags go to Biddeford Monday, visit Thornton Academy for a makeup game Tuesday, host Portland Wednesday, then play at Falmouth Friday.

While the Stags insist they’re not looking ahead, the regular season finale, May 24, at Windham, looms large.

“The next game is the important one and that’s been our mindset all year,” DeRoche said. “We’ll gear up for every game and do our best.”

“We just need to keep working,” Goodman said. “We can’t take any team for granted because there are a lot of great teams in our conference and I think every game could be a good game. We’re just all supportive of each other and we all work hard.”

“We have to clean up the baserunning,” added Eisenhart. “We’re still a pretty young team and we haven’t played in a bunch of high school softball games. I have a ton of confidence in the kids, 1 through 9, and the kids in the dugout can hit too. I think the girls have confidence too.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net

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