McAuley Lions Spring Sports Preview

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Junior Sam Witkowski will be a competitor in the pole vault, jumps and sprints this spring for a McAuley outdoor track team looking to make some noise in the SMAA and at the Class C state meet.

File photos.

More photos below.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Dawn Armandi (second year)

2015 record: 7-10 (Lost, 2-1, in nine innings, to Noble in Western A preliminary round)

Top returning players: Kim Fisher (Senior) Chelsea Rairdon (Senior), Lily Donovan (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 22 @ Cheverus, April 29 PORTLAND, May 11 CHEVERUS, May 27 @ Deering

Coach’s comment: “It’s going to be a building year. We only have 13 girls in the program. We have strong pitching, so that puts us in a good position. We could make the playoffs again. That’s our goal as a team.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: McAuley got to the playoffs last spring, losing to Noble in the preliminary round for the second year in a row, but since then, the program has been hit hard by graduation and other departures. The Lions don’t have much margin for error with their small roster, but they could surprise in the weeks to come.

First-team all-star pitcher Taylor Whaley graduated and leaves behind some big shoes to fill. Junior Ashley Littlefield and freshman Jill Joyce hope to step in. Donovan will catch, at least part of the time. She showed some power (two home runs) last spring. Fisher (catcher and centerfield) and Rairdon (third base) are the veterans in the lineup. Freshman Elizabeth Kennedy, a utility player, is showing promise as a hitter.

McAuley will have to make the most of its opportunities in the weeks to come and hope that the newer players quickly hit their stride. If all goes well, the Lions will be back in the postseason.

LACROSSE

Coach: Jackie Dubois (second year)

2015 record: 5-8 (Lost, 14-4, to eventual regional champion Messalonskee in Eastern A quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Jordyn Carr (Senior), Kaeli Leddy (Senior), Elizabeth Poulin (Senior), Claire Reid (Junior), Meredith Wheeler (Junior), Molly Barr (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 26 @ Marshwood, May 2 @ Biddeford, May 5 @ NYA, May 19 PORTLAND, May 24 DEERING, May 31 @ Cheverus

Coach’s comment: “It looks to be an exciting year for our program, as we have the opportunity to continue and build off our success from last season. With a strong returning group of girls and the addition of three athletic and experienced freshmen, our team looks to contend and compete for another playoff position this season.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: McAuley made great strides a year ago, reaching the playoffs for the first time in a decade. The Lions hope to build on that success this spring and have some strong athletes in place.

Poulin was a league all-star honorable mention in 2015 after producing 18 goals, five assists, 58 ground balls, 24 draw controls, six interceptions and 39 caused turnovers. She’ll set the tone in the midfield, where she’s joined by Reid and freshmen Zoe Mazur and Catherine Reid (names familiar to basketball fans). Barr and Leddy will take draws and also likely will join Poulin in leading the scoring parade. Freshman Isabella Edwards could step right in and tickle the twine as well. Defensively, Wheeler, a member of the All-Rookie team last spring, looks to make life as easy as possible for Carr in goal.

While McAuley has a tough opener, at defending Class A state champion Marshwood, the rest of the Lions’ schedule will present opportunities for victory. This group has an abundance of athleticism and skill. McAuley has every intention on getting back to the postseason and looks to win a playoff game for the first time since 2001.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: Tim Donovan (14th year)

2015 results: No score @ Class C state meet

Top returning athletes: Emma Downey (Senior), Andrea Dumount (Senior), Batoul Berro (Junior), Naissa Isaro (Junior), Sam Witkowski (Junior)

Coach’s comment: “We have a few extras, but we’re still a very small team. We do have some individual talent. At the bigger meets, we should be in the scoring somewhat. I’m looking forward to the season. We should be able to have kids in more events, as well as some state qualifiers.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: McAuley doesn’t have a very big team, but the Lions do feature some solid athletes and they’ll turn some heads this season.

McAuley should be very strong on the field side, as Berro throws the javelin, Dumount jumps, Isaro throws and Witkowski is a jumper and pole vaulter of renown. Berro, Dumount and Witkowski also sprint. Downey hopes to score in the racewalk. Several newcomers will also be heard from. Senior Sophia Krieckhaus and freshmen Olivia Howard, MJ Kabongo and Alissia Toohey add sprinting depth. Grace Downey, Kiera Kenneally and Ruth Reischmann take part in middle-distance events. Sophomore Chloe Cott will contend in the distance races. Cott, Grace Downey, Kabongo and Kenneally will jump. Howard throws and jumps. Kabongo, Reischmann and Toohey throw the shot put. Krieckhaus also throws.

The Lions will hold their own against many of their SMAA foes and have some athletes who can step up at the Class C state meet. The Lions hope to score at states for the fourth time in five years. More than one girl could step up and steal headlines in June.

TENNIS

Coach: Joe Kilmartin (29th year, one state championship)

2015 record: 6-7 (Lost, 3-2, to Marshwood in Western A preliminary round)

Top returning players: Jessica Levasseur (Senior), Kimanna Nguyen (Senior), Skyler Vaughn (Junior), Catherine Cornell (Sophomore), Sanni Hackett (Sophomore), Sarah Mariski (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: May 6 @ Cheverus, May 13 @ Portland, May 18 @ South Portland, May 20 @ Deering

Coach’s comment: “It’s a small team this year. The girls are untested. We hope to win some matches and to get better. The girls have spirit and enthusiasm. That keeps the coach happy.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: McAuley has been a contender for many years, but it will be a challenge this spring with a small roster and a lack of experience.

The Lions hoped to have second-team all-star Siobhan Kenneally this season, but she’s competing in track instead. Sophia Krieckhaus has also departed for track and field. As a result, Hackett, Mariski and Nguyen will likely play singles. Cornell, Levasseur and Vaughn are in line to fill some of the doubles spots. After that, uncertainty reigned at press time.

Kilmartin will make the most with what he has to work with and McAuley should win some matches. The playoffs might be a longshot, but don’t write this group off. The Lions might wind up being one of the league’s bigger surprises in the weeks to come.

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

Junior Lily Donovan should be one of the top hitters for the McAuley softball team this season.

Senior Kim Fisher is another key returner for the Lions.

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