Spring Athletes of the Year: Deering Rams
Spring 2010 Male Athlete of the Year:
SAM BALZANO, Junior—Baseball
* SMAA All-Conference, first team, outfield
* SMAA All-Defensive team
If Sam Balzano's unrivaled speed, defensive brilliance and excellence with the bat weren't enough to make opposing coaches and players sweat, he added a new repertoire to his game this spring: pitching.
While his time on the mound was limited, Balzano made his presence felt. Along with his other skills, he helped the Deering baseball juggernaut stay among the top teams in Western A.
Balzano led the league in stolen bases and runs scored, was named to two separate all-conference teams and is just getting better.
Mix all that with the fact that he's a top student, a great teammate and a hard worker, The Forecaster is naming Sam Balzano as Deering's Spring 2010 Male Athlete of the Year.
Balzano grew up in Portland, began his baseball days in T-ball and came to Deering and swung up to varsity as a freshman as the Rams were en route to a second straight Class A title. As a sophomore, Balzano played a bigger role on another champion, but his junior year would truly be special.
Highlights included two walks, a hit and a steal in a loss to Cheverus in the opener (Balzano took the loss on the mound, which snapped the Rams' 50-game win streak), a steal, run scored and an RBI against Noble, two steals and three runs scored against Marshwood, two hits, a run, steal and RBI against Kennebunk, two steals and two runs scored versus Portland, two hits against Sanford, two runs scored versus Massabesic, a home run, steal and three runs scored against Thornton Academy, two steals and a run against Windham, two hits against South Portland, a double, RBI and run scored versus Gorham, three runs, two hits, a steal and an RBI against Scarborough and a steal and two runs scored in the regular season finale against Cheverus.
In the playoffs, Balzano had a double, triple and a relief stint in a 4-1 quarterfinal round victory over Cheverus. Deering's reign ended in the semifinals with a narrow loss to Westbrook, but Balzano bowed out with a double.
For the season, Balzano had a .396 average, was sixth in the league with a .531 on-base percentage, was first in runs (23) and steals (15) and tied for first in walks (12), He also had a pair of doubles, a home run and eight RBI as the quintessential leadoff man who always had the green light to run.
On the mound, he finished 3-2 with a 2.75 earned run average.
Balzano was named first team all-conference and was also named to the All-Defensive team.
Balzano is spending the summer playing for the always strong Nova Seafood American Legion squad. He played football through his junior year (he'll play fall baseball through Frozen Ropes this autumn) and will continue to run indoor track next winter.
Who knows what he'll add to his game between now and next baseball season. Sam Balzano, Deering's Spring 2010 Male Athlete of the Year, has done a little of everything and done it with flair.
Coach Mike Coutts' comment: “Sam is a pleasure to be around. He works hard and tries to get better. I've never seen him without a smile on his face. When he gets on base, we have a chance to win. He really changes the game with his speed. He's turned himself into a really good hitter who can drive the ball into the gaps. On defense, he just catches the ball. He can run them down with the best of them.”
2009 winner: Regan Flaherty (baseball)
2008 winner: Taylor Candage (baseball)
2007 winner: Matt Watson (baseball)
2006 winner: Adam Rothbart (lacrosse)
2005 winner: Neall Oliver (tennis)
2004 winner: Ryan Reid (baseball)
Spring 2010 Female Athlete of the Year:
JULIE PALLOZZI, Senior—Lacrosse
* SMAA All-Conference, honorable mention
* Senior All-Star
Julie Pallozzi came a long way in her four years as varsity goalie for the Deering girls' lacrosse team.
Overwhelmed as the only freshman on the varsity squad, she quickly gained confidence and emerged as one of the finest in her position. Pallozzi closed her Rams career in style, enjoying several games where she singlehandedly held the opposition at bay. While Deering failed to make the playoffs, she turned heads throughout with her heroic efforts.
For finishing in style, being a rock and being the type of player that who made everyone better, Julie Pallozzi gets The Forecaster's nod as Deering's Spring 2010 Female Athlete of the Year.
Pallozzi grew up in Portland and didn't play lacrosse until her freshman year when coach Andrew Gordon talked her into trying the sport at the goalie position. She took to it quickly, went to a clinic at the University of Southern Maine her junior year and had a solid senior season.
Highlights included 22 saves in a four-overtime tie versus Windham in the opener, 18 against Kennebunk. 27 versus Cheverus, 16 against Biddeford, 12 versus Gardiner and. 18 against Portland.
For the year, Pallozzi made 222 saves, 79 percent of the shots she faced.
In addition to being a rock in the cage, Pallozzi kept her teammates loose with her bubbly personality. She wound up making the all-conference team and leading her squad to victory (on her homefield) in the Senior All-Star Game.
Pallozzi, who also ran cross country, played ice hockey and belonged to Student Senate at Deering, likes riding horses, has already taken some classes at USM, works at DiMillos and after deferring for a year (she hopes to go to Brazil), will attend the University of New England to study medical biology. She wants to someday be a physical therapist.
She may play lacrosse at UNE as well.
If so, it certainly won't be a difficult adjustment. Julie Pallozzi, Deering's Spring 2010 Female Athlete of the Year, has shown she's up to any challenge and has an awful lot of fun conquering them.
Coach Andrew Gordon’s comment: “Julie was a joy to coach, always positive with a dry sense of humor, who led by example. I think what made her stand out were her desire and ability to improve and learn every year and in particular, her calm and composed demeanor in her position. She single-handedly won us at least one game this year. She made some incredible saves in the Portland game.”
2009 winner: Melissa Bell (Softball)
2008 winner: Lesley Warn (softball)
2007 winner: Chelsea Johnson (lacrosse)
2006 winner: Kate Bustin (softball)
2005 winner: Lesley Warn (softball)
2004 winner: Gina Axelson (softball)