Cheverus Stags Spring Sports Preview

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Coming off a fabulous indoor season, Emily Turner will look to lead the Cheverus girls’ outdoor track team to great things this spring.

File photos.

More photos below.

BASEBALL

Coach: Mac McKew (eighth year, 80-46 overall record, one state championship)

2015 record: 9-8 (Lost, 12-2, to Deering in Western A preliminary round)

Top returning players: Alex Jacobs (Senior), Jensen LaPoint (Senior), Chris Vallee (Senior), Jared Brooks (Junior), Jack Casale (Junior), Logan McCarthy (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 26 @ Thornton Academy, May 6 SOUTH PORTLAND, May 10 @ Bonny Eagle, May 12 PORTLAND, May 20 @ Deering, May 24 THORNTON ACADEMY

Coach’s comment: “Our success this year will be dependent on how quickly our newcomers adjust to varsity level play and bounce-back-to-sophomore performance-level seasons for Jensen and Alex. The team has a solid mix of veterans and good young players that will need to settle into and embrace their roles. We know every year there are surprise teams and when you play a survive and advance playoff format, many teams are brought into the mix. We expect to be one of them.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: While the Stags didn’t get as far as they’d hoped last spring, they did extend their postseason streak to seven years, a run that will likely reach eight in June.

This year’s squad will be anchored on the mound by the veteran Jacobs (3.47 earned run average in 2015), Casale (who only threw two innings last spring) and freshman Tre Fletcher, who has already turned heads as a premier athlete in football, basketball and indoor track this school year. Brooks, who has been prevented from seeing time on the hill due to injury, will add depth to the staff and junior Rylan Benedict and sophomore Cam Dube will see some innings as well. McCarthy is the catcher. He’s renowned for his defensive prowess. LaPoint could also see some time behind the plate.

Offensively, Brooks (an Underclass all-star in 2015) was the team’s second best hitter a year ago, batting .357 with 11 runs batted in. Vallee (.345, 10 RBI), Casale (.323), McCarthy (.293, 14 runs scored, nine RBI) and LaPoint (.275, 12 walks during an Underclass all-star caliber season last spring) are other experienced hitters of note. Brooks, LaPoint and Vallee (a second-team league all-star in 2015, who will also serve as the designated hitter) are definites on the infield. Jacobs will play first when he’s not pitching. Casale has the most experience in the outfield. Benedict will join him there. Seniors Jon Bernier (second base/shortstop), Drek Dumond (third base), Matt LaPoint (second base), Pat Sullivan (first base/DH), Josh Veroneau (outfield) and Jack Whaley (outfield, DH) also return. They’ll be joined by sophomore Griffin Watson (shortstop) and Dube and Fletcher (who will play the outfield when not pitching).

Cheverus is hoping that LaPoint returns to his league-leading hitting form of 2014 and that Jacobs is dominant as the ace. If that happens, there is enough talent on this roster to suggest the Stags will be in the mix all the way through. This team will likely have an opportunity to fly under the radar, but some early success will make Cheverus a team to watch. In a season devoid of a heavy favorite, the Stags have every reason to believe that they’ll have a successful regular season and be a threat to go deep into the playoffs.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Cynthia Wescott (second year)

2015 record: 1-15 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Sophia Giancotti (Senior), Rylee Day (Junior), Sydney Levesque (Sophomore), Isabella Santoro (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 22 MCAULEY, April 25 @ Portland, May 2 DEERING, May 11 @ McAuley

Coach’s comment: “We’re a really young team this year. We hope to go .500 or better this season.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus took its lumps a year ago, but hopes to bounce back this spring.

The Stags will rely on Levesque on the mound. As a freshman, Levesque fanned 41 batters in 93.1 innings. Santoro will see time behind the plate, along with junior Ally Tillotson, a huge addition to the program. Tillotson is a Division I prospect, who wields a fearsome bat. She made quite a mark at McAuley the past two years and will bolster Cheverus’ offense, as well as make the Stags stronger defensively. Giancotti has experience and will play either second base or shortstop. Day is another veteran, who will play a corner infield position.

There is promise here. Cheverus should have no trouble moving up the ladder this spring, the question is how far? While the Stags aren’t at the level of the league’s elite teams, a run at a .500 mark and the playoffs isn’t out of the question. This could be one of this year’s feel-good stories when all is said and done.

BOYS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Bill Bodwell (fourth year, 31-14 overall record)

2015 record: 8-6 (Lost, 18-8, to eventual state champion Brunswick in Eastern A semifinals)

Top returning players: Alex Nason (Senior), Kieran Conley (Junior), George Conzelman (Junior), Sean Walsh (Junior), Finn Cawley (Sophomore), Max Coffin (Sophomore), Marco Giancotti (Sophomore), Patrick Griffin (Sophomore), Michael Hatch (Sophomore), Kevin Ly (Sophomore), Jesse Pierce (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 22 @ Thornton Academy, April 26 DEERING, April 30 KENNEBUNK, May 4 @ South Portland, May 17 SCARBOROUGH, May 25 @ Westbrook, May 27 PORTLAND

Coach’s comment: “The boys are playing well. We have a strong sophomore class that had to play a lot last year. That bodes well for the future. The experience level in the program is high. I have kids who work hard and want success. They’re serious about lacrosse. This is my first year without (Thomas) Lawson, (Nick) Schleh or (James) Kane. Somebody will have to score goals. We hope to get better every day and be ready for the playoffs.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus posted its fourth straight winning record last spring, but like everyone else in the state, the Stags had no answers for juggernaut Brunswick. This time around, Cheverus might have what it takes to be the best team in its region and perhaps all of Class A.

Nason is one of the few seniors on the roster. He’ll take faceoffs and be a force in the midfield. It’s likely the Stags feature the best sophomore class around and while youth is often seen as a weakness, this group already has experience under its belt. The attack features five up-and-comers, Cawley, Coffin, Giancotti, Hatch (who will also take faceoffs) and Pierce, and they’ll be relied upon to pace the offense. Senior Frank Curran, a football stalwart, returns to lacrosse after missing his sophomore and junior years, to help the offensive cause. Three other seniors with big name recognition, Dan Baker, Mackenzie Hoglund and Justin Johnston, are out this spring as well and will see time at midfield. Defensively, Conley, Conzelman, Griffin and Ly all have experience in front of Walsh, who will play goalie.

Cheverus has one of the toughest schedules around and there will be games where the Stags have a tough time matching up against the state’s elite, but by June, this group should have enough victories to earn a solid playoff spot. If the youngsters continue to develop as hoped and enough offense can be generated, don’t be surprised if Cheverus makes it to the final game of the season.

GIRLS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Jennifer Wescott (second year)

2015 record: 5-8 (Lost, 16-15, in 4 OTs, to Portland in Eastern A quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Emily Duff (Senior), Caroline Ray (Senior), Allie Scott (Senior), Alayna Briggs (Junior), Kathryn Griffiths (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 30 @ Messalonskee, May 10 PORTLAND, May 14 WAYNFLETE, May 17 @ Marshwood, May 19 THORNTON ACADEMY, May 24 SCARBOROUGH, May 31 MCAULEY

Coach’s comment: “We have a group of girls with a lot of heart. I’m happy with how we’re playing. If we can stay consistent, I can see us playing into June. We’re looking forward to the season. The key is consistency.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: No program has suffered interminable, agonizing back-to-back playoff losses quite like the Cheverus girls. After their bid to repeat as Class A state champs was denied by Massabesic in five overtimes in 2014, last year, in the quarterfinals, despite several opportunities to win it, the Stags dropped a four-OT marathon to Portland, which went on to make a spirited run to the regional final. Graduation and transfer have taken a toll on the program, but Cheverus should steadily improve this season and will be very dangerous at the end.

A pair of newcomers, sophomore Mackenzie Johnston and freshman Bella Booth, will be seeing time in the draw circle, trying to get Cheverus possession. Duff (who has committed to play at Rockhurst University in Kansas City) and Scott will look to score with regularity, as should sophomore Kate Sessler. Defensively, the Stags have experience behind Briggs, Griffiths and Ray. They’ll need to be stout, as Cheverus has to break in a new goalie for the first time in several seasons. After Hope Correia, who played in so many big games, graduated, sophomore Abby Cavallaro, best known for her basketball talents, will step into the breach. Cavallaro’s athleticism should help her fill that role nicely.

The Stags are accustomed to winning seasons and deep playoff runs. If the younger players can step up and play key roles this spring, it will be more of the same.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: Steve Virgilio (sixth year w/boys’ team, one state championship; four year w/girls’ team)

2015 results:

(Boys) 3rd @ Class A state meet
(Girls) 7th @ Class A state meet

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Hunter Griffiths (Senior), Luke Trickey (Senior), Will Kelly (Junior), Steve Larkin (Junior), Mike O’Brien (Junior), John Stokes (Junior)

(Girls) Emily Grinnell (Senior), Sarah Mount (Senior), Katelyn Gendron (Junior), Emily Turner (Junior), Hannah Abbott (Sophomore), Julia Pomerleau (Sophomore), Ashley Turner (Sophomore)

Coach’s comment: “We’re just trying to do our absolute best. We’re dedicating this season to (football) Coach (John) Wolfgram, (Principal) Mullen and (athletic director Gary) Hoyt. We’d like to say, ‘thank you.’”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Both Cheverus outdoor track teams feature standout individuals and should do very well all spring.

Graduation hit the boys’ team hard, as the Class A record holder in the 400, Jake Dixon, and reigning high jump winner Jacob Schott and discus champion Nick White have departed. In fact, almost all of last year’s 59 points from the state meet have gone, but the cupboard isn’t bare. Trickey scored in the 4×100 relay last spring and this season, he will be one of the league’s top sprinters. Freshman Owen Burke is another sprinter to watch. O’Brien will compete in the middle distance and is also a jumper and vaulter of note. Larkin is a top distance threat. Kelly and Stokes look to score in the javelin. Griffiths is another vaulter to watch. The Stags will remain formidable in the league and if this group develops as hoped, some points will be scored at the biggest meets and Cheverus should finish in the top 10 for the eighth straight season.

On the girls’ side, proven talent does return and the Stags could be in line to make a run at a top five state finish for the first time since 2011. Emily Turner was second in the 400 last season and after a transcendent, record-setting indoor season, which saw her named Cheverus’ Winter Female Athlete of the Year, she’ll aim for titles in the sprints and long jump. Pomerleau was the runner-up in the high jump last spring and hopes to take the top spot this spring. Mount (fourth in the 300 hurdles in 2015) looks to move up in her final season. She’ll also sprint. Ashley Turner leads the distance contingent. On the field side, Grinnell (sixth in the javelin last year) and Gendron (seventh in the long jump) hope to move up the standings. Abbott also has experience in the throws. Six freshmen add depth. Evelyn Hanley (hurdles), Mary Jerome (throws and hurdles), Meg Kelly (throws), field hockey standout Sophia Pompeo (relays), Rosie Train (middle distance) and Emma White (jumps and hurdles) all show promise. This squad has a nice blend of experience and youth and the sky is the limit. Look for the Stags to do very well during the regular season and to be at their best in late-May and June.

BOYS’ TENNIS

Coach: Wayne St. Peter (12th year)

2015 record: 9-4 (Lost, 3-2, to Portland in Western A quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Malcolm Smith (Senior), Matt McCormick (Junior), Jimmy Nguyen (Junior)

Pivotal matches: April 29 @ Scarborough, May 4 @ Deering, May 9 PORTLAND, May 18 THORNTON ACADEMY

Coach’s comment: “It looks like Matt will be our number one. Luca Begemann, a junior exchange student from Germany, will be our number two. The three spot is a battle between Jimmy and Malcolm. It looks like TA and Deering should be the top teams.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus has been a playoff stalwart and last year was no exception. This fall, the Stags should be in the mix to be among the best teams in the league again.

Despite graduating a couple league all-stars, Cheverus has some potentially strong singles players in McCormick and Begemann. Nguyen or Smith will also play singles, while one will be on the first doubles team. Several other players will have a chance to make their mark.

The Stags have a tough schedule, but that will make them battle-tested for the matches that matter most, the playoffs. Cheverus should make it 16 straight trips to the postseason and once there, it will be capable of knocking off anyone.

GIRLS’ TENNIS

Coach: Jason Barriault (second year)

2015 record: 8-5 (Lost, 3-2, to Deering in Western A preliminary round)

Top returning players: Kendall Jackson (Senior), Ally Smith (Senior), Ellianna Budri (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: April 29 SCARBOROUGH, May 4 DEERING, May 6 MCAULEY, May 11 @ Windham, May 18 @ Thornton Academy

Coach’s comment: “We have most of our varsity team returning. We hope to improve this year. Although we have a more difficult schedule, our goal is to finish with the same or better record and progress further in the playoffs than we did last season.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Cheverus made it six straight postseason trips last spring and this time around, the Stags are hoping for a deeper run.

Budri, Smith and Jackson project to play singles. Juniors Daniela Fornaro and Katherine Sullivan and sophomore Alexis Paszyc are in the doubles mix. That’s a good starting point.

Cheverus might take awhile to hit its stride, but this is a group that should steadily improve. By the end of the regular season, the Stags will be priming for another playoff trip and don’t be surprised if they turn some heads once the postseason begins.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Junior Jared Brooks was Cheverus’ top  hitter last season. He’s also a solid baserunner and will see time on the mound this spring as the Stags make a run at a Class A title.

Look for junior Jack Casale to contribute with his arm and bat this season.

Senior Alex Jacobs could be one of the top aces in the SMAA this season.

Senior Jensen LaPoint could be one of the Stags’ top hitters.

Junior Logan McCarthy is back behind the plate this spring.

Chris Vallee is another key returner for the Stags.

Sophomore pitcher Sydney Levesque hopes to lead the Cheverus softball team back into contention this spring.

Junior Ally Tillotson wielded a potent bat at McAuley the past two seasons. This spring, at Cheverus, Tillotson will continue her assault on SMAA hurlers.

Sophomore Izzy Santoro saw some key innings as a freshman and will see some time behind the plate this year.

Senior Sophia Giancotti will be a force in the middle infield.

Junior Sean Walsh returns in goal for Cheverus’ boys’ lacrosse team.

Senior Alex Nason will do a little of everything for the Stags this season.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.