Portland Bulldogs Spring Athletes of the Year
CALEB FRASER, Senior-Baseball
SMAA Cumberland County all-star, first-team, pitcher
A key member of a squad which finally put it all together when it mattered most, Fraser got the job done with the bat and was pretty impressive on the mound as well.
Fraser grew up in Portland and while dabbling in football and hockey, was a four-year member of the Bulldogs varsity baseball team. Fraser made an immediate impact as a freshman, making the SMAA All-Rookie team with three wins, 30 strikeouts and six RBI. As a sophomore, Fraser struck out 40, lifted his average nearly 60 points and drove in nine runs. As a junior, he led the team in RBI with 10 and averaged a strikeout per inning pitched.
In all of those seasons, the Bulldogs weren't able to live up to preseason expectations and fell short of the playoffs, but this time around, Fraser and his teammates weren't about to be denied.
Fraser had three hits and three RBI in a win over Sanford to begin the spring. He then won his first start, holding Kennebunk scoreless for four innings while striking out five. Fraser had two hits and two RBI against Noble, then gave Portland a huge dose of confidence by holding Thornton Academy to three runs as he outdueled Jeff Gelinas in a 6-3 triumph. Fraser also beat Massabesic (allowing one earned run on one hit while fanning six) and Deering (giving up two earned runs) and took his lone loss against Westbrook, but only allowed three earned runs while striking out seven. Fraser had two hits, an RBI and a run scored versus Massabesic, had two hits and scored twice against South Portland, doubled in a run and scored another versus Deering and had an RBI against Biddeford.
For the season, Fraser, who relied on his fastball, change-up and curveball, went 4-1 on the mound with a 2.33 ERA. He struck out 27 batters.
“I got stronger as the year went on,” Fraser said. “I knew I had to step it up.”
At the plate, Fraser, the designated hitter, batted.286 with 10 RBI. He scored seven times and had four extra base hits.
He continued his excellence in the postseason.
In a preliminary round playoff win over South Portland, Fraser doubled in the game's first run and scored another. Then, in the quarterfinals, he had his finest hour, holding top-ranked Scarborough in check in a stunning upset win, going the difference.
Throughout, Fraser was comfortable in the spotlight.
“We played in front of big crowds in Babe Ruth and Little League, so we got experience from that,” Fraser said.
Fraser was warming up to pitch in the semifinals, but Westbrook pushed across the winning run in the seventh inning as Portland's season came to a tough conclusion.
Fraser was named to the SMAA all-star team and is playing American Legion ball this summer. He'll then join Division III national runner-up University of Southern Maine, where he looks to make a mark going forward.
It's safe to say that Caleb Fraser, Portland's Spring Male Athlete of the Year, will positively impact the Huskies in the years to come. He certainly was one of the better clutch players in recent Bulldogs history.
Coach Tony DiBiase's comment: “Caleb really came into his own this year. It all culminated in that (Scarborough) game against (Red Storm ace and Maine Gatorade Player of the Year Ben) Greenberg. He retired the last eight batters he faced and struck out the side in the seventh inning. That spoke volumes as to how far he came as an athlete. He hit well too and had a great senior year.”
2012: Ryan Jurgelevich (lacrosse)
2011: Ryan Jurgelevich (lacrosse)
2010: Caleb Kenney (lacrosse)
2009: K.R. Jurgelevich (lacrosse)
2008: Brian Furey (baseball)
2007: Sam McAdam (lacrosse)
2006: Joe Fessenden (baseball)
2005: Peter Sengelmann (lacrosse)
2004: Jake Schuit (lacrosse)
ANNETTE DENEKAS, Junior-Tennis
SMAA All-Conference, first-team, singles
Denekas shot up the ladder to the first singles spot and did she ever play well, leading the Bulldogs to the brink of a first ever state championship.
Denkeas started playing tennis at the age of eight and made her mark on the Bulldogs as a freshman and sophomore, earning all-star honors as a doubles player. She then made a quantum leap this spring, starting as the second singles player, then moving up to the No. 1 spot for good just in time to help Portland beat Scarborough in a pivotal match, which helped the Bulldogs go undefeated and earn the top seed for the playoffs. During the regular season, Denekas went 11-0, dropping just one set.
The Bulldogs would go on to play for the state title, but dropped a 3-2 decision to Brunswick. The match came down to Denekas against Dragons standout Maisie Silverman and Silverman prevailed.
“I want to win, but I don't take it that hard when I lose,” Denekas said. “I like to improve. We had a great season. It was a very close team.”
Denekas credited time playing at Racket and Fitness Center and Foreside Fitness last winter for not only improving her skills, but her mental game as well.
Denekas managed to make the SMAA first-team as a singles player. She's also a member of the school's Executive Board, Key Club and Yearbook Committee and plays the piano. She works with kids at a tennis camp over the summer. She's also playing Junior Team Tennis.
Denekas hopes to remain in the No. 1 singles spot as a senior. She wants to play tennis in college and is undecided on a major.
The top singles player on a special team, Annette Denekas, Portland's Spring Female Athlete of the Year, had a superb junior season. She isn't finished yet.
Coach Bonnie Moran's comment: “Annette is a rare example of all that's good in a high school athlete. She's very hardworking, motivated, and extremely coachable, always open to input about what can improve her game. She made tremendous strides over the last year, climbing the ladder from first doubles last season to first singles this year. In order to do that, she had to make critical improvements in her consistency, footwork, conditioning, and mental control. More important than all of that, she's a great kid who exhibits impeccable sportsmanship and a true love of tennis. She's the consummate team player who cares about her teammates' success as much as her own. Annette is a terrific role model for any young player who aspires to being the best they can be. I'm so glad she'll be back as a player and captain next year.”
2012: Drew Barry (lacrosse)
2011: Drew Barry (lacrosse)
2010: Mary Moran (tennis)
2009: Maggie Swann (tennis)
2008: Liz Mosley (lacrosse)
2007: Jasmine Powell (track)
2006: Katie Hutchins (softball)
2005: Kelly Flaherty (lacrosse)
2004: Lily Anderson (lacrosse)