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Cheverus Stags Spring Sports Previews

Sports

Cheverus Stags Spring Sports Previews

Springtime promises to bring a lot of triumph to Cheverus. Baseball fell just short in its repeat title bid a year ago, but is once again among the preseason favorites. Softball has the pieces in place to make a run to the postseason. Boys' lacrosse, coming off the best season in program history, begins a new era with a lot of promise. The girls' squad has fallen one game shy of states each of the past two years. This could be the season the Stags go all the way. Both track teams are loaded with standout athletes and both tennis squads should be very competitive all season and could make noise in the playoffs.

BASEBALL

Coach: Mac McKew (fifth year, 52-22 overall record, one state championship)

2012 Record: 14-5 (Lost, 7-5, to Scarborough in Western Class A Final)

Top returning players: Ryan Casale (Senior), Drew Ferrick (Senior), Felix del Vecchio (Junior), Mitchell Powers (Junior), Chris Tinsman (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 19 @ Bonny Eagle, April 25 @ Deering, April 30 @ Windham, May 7 (H) WESTBROOK, May 21 (H) PORTLAND, May 23 (H) SCARBOROUGH, May 25 @ South Portland

Coach's comment: “It's a new chapter. We graduated six starters, three who are playing in college. We have holes to fill. Our (American) Legion experience will help. We have good athletes. We need to develop pitching depth. We've been spoiled with that. We'll start with our bats. I think the league's very balanced and competitive. We could finish anywhere from first to eighth. We have two years of winning tradition. We'll face tougher pitchers because of it.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Cheverus' title defense ended last spring in sudden and gutwrenching fashion, on a walkoff home run against Scarborough in the regional final. The Stags, whose 32 combined wins over the past two years is easily a program best since the state tournament began in 1970, then were hit hard by graduation, with the most notable departures being 2012 Spring Male Athlete of the Year Louie DiStasio (now playing at the University of Rhode Island), Tyler Flaherty (Lasell College) and Harry Ridge (Bowdoin). Between DiStasio and Ridge alone, 75 of last year's 113 regular season innings pitched have departed. Clearly there are holes to fill, but weep not for the Stags. While they might not have the big-name stars of the past couple seasons, there are some great athletes on the roster and plenty of depth. This year, the pitching staff will be led by Powers (a 1.56 earned run average in limited action last season). The depth comes from juniors Brad Carney, Brady Murray and Nate Smith (2.80 ERA in five innings last spring), who all saw key innings last summer during the American Legion season (where the Cheverus team finished second in the Northeast Region). The wild card is Casale, a first-team league all-star and All-Rookie team selection, who went 3-1 with a 2.04 ERA in 24 innings in 2012. He's currently recovering from injury and is limited to a designated hitter role. If he can see some time on the mound later in the year, look out. Offensively, Cheverus will rely on Casale (.327 batting average in 2012), Tinsman, the catcher, a Division I prospect, who had eight extra base hits and nine RBI last season (he might be due for a breakout campaign), first baseman Ferrick, (seven RBI last season), shortstop Del Vecchio and Powers (five RBI), an outfielder when he's not on the hill, to come through. Also figuring into the mix will be seniors Andrew Cloutier, Jake Michaud, Tyler Small and football quarterback and hockey all-star Liam Fitzpatrick, and juniors Will Hilton, Ethan Jordan and Charlie Mull, the soccer goalie and a solid athlete. The Stags will look to stay close with their pitching, be aggressive on the basepaths and hopefully develop some sock at the plate. In a league without a clear favorite, Cheverus will be right near the top again. A third straight trip to the regional championship game isn't beyond the realm of possibility if all the pieces fall into place.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Maureen Curran (second year, 5-11 overall record)

2012 Record: 5-11 (no playoffs)

Top returning players: Jamie Dulac (Senior), Kelsey Dulac (Senior), Izzi Grasso (Senior), Katie Roy (Senior), Brittany Bell (Junior), Libby DesRuisseaux (Junior), Casey Simpson (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 20 @ Massabesic, April 24 @ McAuley, May 8 (H) BIDDEFORD, May 13 (H) SOUTH PORTLAND, May 20 @ Scarborough, May 22 (H) TA, May 24 @ Noble

Coach's comment: “We have a solid core of returners and between their experience and the athleticism of our newcomers, we expect to be competitive this season. Last year, we laid the foundation for what we're trying to build. The players bought into our philosophy and made great strides. We'd like to carry that momentum into 2013 and fulfill our potential so the softball program can contribute to the rich tradition of Cheverus athletics.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Cheverus is on the brink of returning to being one of the top contenders in Western Class A as it was between 2008-10. The Stags were underclassmen-laden in 2012 and should benefit this spring from last year's learning experiences. Cheverus has the luxury of turning to two strong pitchers. Bell, who had a 2.27 ERA in 2012, along with Grasso, whose effectiveness was limited last spring due to illness and injury, make for a strong 1-2 punch. Senior Maeve Bell could see some innings as well. The offense will miss Fall Female Athlete of the Year Staci Swallow (now playing lacrosse after hitting .396 last season) and Mollie Thibodeau (who left Cheverus for Cape Elizabeth after batting .333 in 2012). Brittany Bell will help generate runs. She was an SMAA honorable mention all-star last season after hitting .326 with two home runs, 11 RBI, a .456 on-base percentage and a .587 slugging average. She'll play one of the infield positions when she's not on the hill. Roy, coming off an absolutely dominant hockey season, will be another bat to watch. The third baseman/catcher led the team in RBI a year ago. DesRuisseaux (designated hitter) and Simpson (who hit .289 as a freshman), along with Kelsey Dulac (.286 in 2012), who anchors the outfield, are other bats to watch. Jamie Dulac, another outfielder, is a defensive specialist. The Stags have a nice infusion of new players as well. Junior Katie Randall, who plays both infield and outfield, joins the team. She cut her teeth in the powerhouse South Portland program. Freshmen Sophia Giancotti (infield) and Jill Hannigan (infield/outfield) promise to make an impact as the year progresses. Cheverus has the pieces in place to compete. While reigning regional champion South Portland and perennial powerhouse Scarborough once again lead the list of top teams, after that there are several squads looking to finish with a winning record and host a playoff game. If the Stags can stay healthy and earn some early confidence, they'll be a formidable foe. Curran now has a year under her belt and after a year of growth, Cheverus has the pieces in place to not only make the playoffs, but to possibly stay awhile. It should be a good season on the Back Cove.

BOYS' LACROSSE

Coach: Bill Bodwell (first year)

2012 Record: 11-5 (Lost, 9-4, to Scarborough in Class A state final)

Top returning players: Warren Murray (Senior), Cody O'Brien (Junior), Hilmar Smith (Junior), Jack Sutton (Junior), Tom Lawson (Sophomore), Nick Schleh (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 17 (H) TA, April 20 (H) SOUTH PORTLAND, April 27 (H) WAYNFLETE, May 10 (H) CAPE ELIZABETH, May 15 (H) PORTLAND

Coach's comment: “We're still getting to know each other. Everything's new. New coaches, new players. (The guys) work hard and love the game. They're smart lacrosse players. That's been the easy part. This group wants to get better. A lot of guys spent a lot of time on lacrosse out of season. Obviously, they had a great year last year. We have to replace most of our defense and our goalie. It's like ballet. It can wind up looking great or like a trainwreck. Offensively, we brought back a lot. That's a strength. We'll be able to score some goals. We want to make the playoffs.”

The Forecaster's forecast: After winning 111 games, leading Cheverus to the state final for the first time and earning the state's (as well as The Forecaster's) Coach of the Year nod last season, Deke Andrew, the only coach in program history, stepped down. Andrew's impact on the program can't be quantified and his shoes will be tough to fill, but the Stags were fortunate to bring in a coach, Bodwell, with a pedigree of his own to carry them forward. Bodwell grew up playing club lacrosse in Brunswick, helped start the Thornton Academy program and the first Maine high school league for public schools in the 1990s, then served four years as an assistant to Donald Glover at Brunswick (he was on the staff for the 2007 Class A championship) before coaching the Lewiston varsity for the past three seasons (leading the Blue Devils to the Class A Final in 2011). Bodwell inherits a team that remains rich in offense, while a work-in-progress on the defensive end. Cheverus' potency was on full display in Friday's opener, a 12-6 win at Deering, as Sutton scored five times, Lawson three times and Schleh twice. The offense is further bolstered by the likes of Murray, Smith and seniors Hayden Stokes and Patrick Sullivan. The loss of first-team league all-star defender Colie Walsh will be felt. This year, O'Brien is a defensive anchor, along with senior Mina Para and junior Cavan Dudley. Replacing honorable mention all-star Colm Pusey in goal this spring is junior James Biegel, who made 14 saves in the opener. Cheverus has some challenges on the schedule, but should be able to navigate it with a winning record. Now that the Stags have enjoyed playoff success, they'll be confident come June, when a showdown with Bodwell's alma mater, Brunswick, could loom. If the defense and goalie come along as expected, Cheverus will have a great shot to return to the state game. This time, the Stags might just finish the job.

GIRLS' LACROSSE

Coach: Jamie Chamberlain (eighth year, 53-46 overall record)

2012 Record: 9-6 (Lost, 13-8, to Brunswick in Eastern Class A Final)

Top returning players: Laura Peabody-Harrington (Senior), Emily Rodrigue (Senior), Elyse Caiazzo (Junior), Alex Logan (Junior), Mary Kate Slattery (Junior), Meredith Willard (Junior), Madison Aldrich (Sophomore), Abby Biegel (Sophomore), Nicole Pineau (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 23 (H) MASSABESIC, April 26 @ NYA, April 30 @ Portland, May 7 (H) MARSHWOOD, May 9 @ Scarborough, May 17 @ Kennebunk, May 28 (H) WAYNFLETE

Coach's comment: “Every year, we seem to get more athletic. Hopefully we will again. It's going to come down to how well the new players mesh with the returners. I hope the goalie situation will work out again. These kids want to take it a step further. They've put a lot of time in. They're not satisfied with being the bridesmaid. They're focused. A lot of these kids have played since they were freshmen. We're excited.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Cheverus has knocked loudly on the regional championship door the past two seasons, but was denied each time by Brunswick. This spring, the Stags might just be the team to beat. Cheverus is loaded with returning stars on offense, paced by reigning first-team all-stars Logan and Willard (the school's Spring Female Athlete of the Year in 2012) and second-teamer Caiazzo. If that's not prolific enough for you, a dynamic new addition enters the mix. Senior Staci Swallow, Cheverus' Fall Female Athlete of the Year for her field hockey excellence, has come to lacrosse from softball and is expected to score her share of goals. Biegel, freshman Hanna Sonesson and Pineau, an All-Rookie team member last spring, will also be heard from. The defense features third-team all-star Peabody-Harrington, the do-everything Slattery, Aldrich, Rodrigue and new senior Darby Rawcliffe, a soccer standout. Versatile freshman Abby Ford will fill a utility role. Sophomore Mary Kate Walsh, a transfer from McAuley and an All-Rookie team selection last season, and freshman Kate Sinclair, are battling injury, but will be heard from later in the season. The lone question mark at press time comes in goal. A year ago, Hope Correia was a revelation as a freshman, but she suffered a knee injury this winter and won't be back until the second half of the season in a best case scenario. For now, Chamberlain is hoping that freshman Emily Duff can fill the void (with backup help from Walsh). If so, this team will be able to compete with everyone, even the powerhouses like reigning state champions Scarborough and Waynflete who litter the schedule. The Stags have been building toward a championship level for three years. In 2011, they snuck into the playoffs with a late surge, then went on a stunning run to the regional final. Last year, Cheverus put together a much stronger regular season, but again couldn't solve the Dragons. This spring, the Stags will score a ton of goals, should be formidable on defense and figure to improve steadily as the season progresses. Perhaps enough to make the long-desired trip to Fitzpatrick Stadium for the state final June 15.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coach: Steve Virgilio (third year w/boys' team; first year w/girls' team)

2012 Results:

(Boys) 2nd @ Class A state meet

(Girls) 7th @ Class A state meet

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Jimmy Campbell (Senior), Matt Cushing (Senior), Brady Foshay (Senior), Jackson McMann (Senior), Mike Orne (Senior), Andrew Rose (Senior), Colin Grove (Junior), Tim Jerome (Junior), Mike Sinclair (Junior), Elijah Yeboah (Junior), Isaac Yeboah (Junior)

(Girls) Greta Niedermeyer (Senior), Anne Slattery (Senior), Georgia Caso (Sophomore), Kaitlyn Dostie (Sophomore), Anna Niedermeyer (Sophomore), Eva Niedermeyer (Sophomore), Hannah Robbins (Sophomore)

Top foes: Scarborough, Sanford, Thornton Academy

Coach's comment: “This team wants to make a difference. We want to have a positive impact on each other, the sport, the school and the state at large. We want to elevate Cheverus and Maine track and field. These young men and women want to usher in a new era for their sport and school, but also for all athletic competitors of this region. They want to be leaders and pioneers and will set the example for the next generation. They want to show others what can be done when you simply want to accomplish something, get people behind that goal, make a plan of execution and go for it. Every time they set foot on the track and every time they step off it, they will remember their goals and represent their ideals. They just want to inspire as many people as possible and if they can inspire one, they've made a difference.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Both Cheverus outdoor track teams are loaded for bear this spring.

The boys cover the events nicely and have some top-end talent in Cushing (the reigning Class A champion in the javelin), McMann (part of a state champion 800 relay team indoors), Campbell (part of last spring's 1,600 relay champion, who was also fourth in the 400), Foshay (part of the 1,600 relay champion and runner-up last spring in the 800), Orne (third last year in the high jump), Grove (relay champion), Elijah Yeboah (fourth in the 300 hurdles last season) and Isaac Yeboah (third in the 300 hurdles). Adding depth to the throws is Jerome (fifth in the javelin last year), Sinclair, sophomores Anthony Ciampi, Zordan Holman and Nick White and freshmen Justin Johnston and Jake Lufkin. Rose brings experience and the ability to compete in the sprints, middle distance and relays. Junior Sam Cross (sprints and jumps), sophomores Jake Dixon (sprints, jumps), James Hannigan (sprints, middle distance, relays), Parker Montano (distance), Jake Schott (jumps and hurdles) and Gerry Wagner (sprints and jumps) and freshmen Johnston (sprints and jumps), Lufkin (sprints) and Hunter Griffiths (sprints and jumps) will also be heard from. If all goes well, Cheverus will be among the best teams in the SMAA and should be in the running for a fifth straight top five state finish.

On the girls' side, Virgilio replaces Valerie Guillet as coach and he has some talent to work with there as well. While no state meet points return, the Stags have plenty of promise. Murray was the two-mile champion indoors. Slattery scored indoors in both the sprints and hurdles. Caso scored indoors in the 800 and the 3,200 relay. Freshman Sarah Mount was sixth indoors in the 400. Greta Niedermeyer will contend in the racewalk. Bither (sprints and jumps), Fenderson (throws), Ford (sprints and jumps) and Lambert (throws) have experience. Goodrich could be heard from in several events. Other sophomores to watch include Dostie (sprints, middle-distance, jumps), Anna Niedermeyer (sprints, hurdles, javelin), Eva Niedermeyer (sprints and hurdles) and Robbins (sprints, javelin, pole vault). Freshmen Andrea Dumont (sprints), Emily Grinnell (throws) and Hannah Tyson (sprints) will make their mark. Cheverus has been a top 10 team at states four years running and could do it again.

BOYS' TENNIS

Coach: Wayne St. Peter (ninth year, 78-32 overall record)

2012 Results: 8-6 (Lost, 5-0, to Gorham in Western Class A quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Reed Fernandez (Senior), Michael Gordon (Senior), Connor Pothier (Senior), John Devine (Junior), George Budri (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: April 24 (H) SCARBOROUGH, May 1 (H) PORTLAND, May 3 @ Deering, May 20 @ Windham

Coach's comment: “It's a relatively young team. A good bunch of hardworking kids who are a lot of fun to coach. They're untested in their positions. We want to make the playoffs and go from there. I'm always optimistic.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Cheverus has made the playoffs 12 years running and despite graduating league all-star David Woodbury, is in line to return to the postseason. Devine will play singles and is joined by Budri and Fernandez, who both move up from playing doubles a year ago. Gordon and Pothier have doubles experience as well. A couple new players, sophomores Sam Devine and George Sawchuck, also figure into the doubles mix. While Gorham is the heavy favorite in the region this season, but after that, the league appears wide open. If the new players in new positions come along as hoped, the Stags should be able to hold their own with every team on their schedule and once again, win more than they lose. This program has been a model of consistency and appears due for another successful season.

GIRLS' TENNIS

Coach: Erin Ovalle (fourth year, 33-8 overall record)

2012 Results: 12-2 (Lost, 4-1, to Portland in Western Class A semifinals)

Top returning players: Conley Dion (Senior), Gillian Coates (Junior), Caty Galligan (Junior), Vickey Zhou (Junior)

Pivotal matches: April 24 @ Scarborough, May 1 @ Portland, May 3 (H) DEERING, May 8 (H) MCAULEY

Coach's comment: “We lost four varsity players who had a lot of skill. We have a very young team, but I expect us to be competitive. I think the newcomers and JV players who worked hard during the winter will surprise us. I'm already proud of how hard the girls are working in practice. They're working hard for their spots, but are also encouraging and supporting to their teammates. We have a lot of young talent and I expect to do well. They need to continue to work hard and to want it.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Cheverus has won 23 of 24 regular season matches the past two years, but the Stags haven't been able to get past the semifinals. Graduation, which included league all-stars Maria Cianchette and Abby Harrison, certainly hurt the program, but Cheverus should be right in the hunt again. Galligan should be one of he top singles players. Coates, Dion and Zhou have experience. Jess Soucy, a transfer from Lewiston, will be a factor as well. Cheverus should show steady improvement this spring as players get used to being in new positions. The Stags could be very dangerous by the postseason.

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

Photo: File photo

Junior catcher Chris Tinsman wields a potent bat and is getting serious interest from college coaches. He projects to have a strong season.

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Senior Ryan Casale is a top returner for the Cheverus baseball team, which has been as strong as anyone the past two seasons.

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Senior Mitchell Powers will play a key role in the Stags' success this season.

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Brittany Bell is a returning all-star for the Cheverus softball team who will be a force as a pitcher and a hitter.

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Senior Izzi Grasso is healthy and primed for a big season this spring.

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Junior Jack Sutton played a key role in Cheverus' success a year ago and should be a top player for the Stags again this spring. He had five goals in a season-opening win at Deering.

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Sophomore Nick Schleh is another top scoring threat for the Stags.

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Junior Alex Logan is one of the top all-around players in the state. She does a little of everything and is almost impossible to defend.

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Junior Elyse Caiazzo is a top scoring threat for the Stags.

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Senior Emily Rodrigue is one of Cheverus' top defenders.

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Senior Matt Cushing is the reigning Class A champion in the javelin and looks to repeat.

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Cheverus junior Isaac Yeboah is a top hurdler.

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Senior Mike Orne came in third in the high jump last year. He hopes to leap to the top spot this spring.

2013 Schedules

BASEBALL

Fri., April 19 @ Bonny Eagle

Tues., April 23 H SANFORD

Thurs., April 25 @ Deering

Sat., April 27 H TA

Tues., April 30 @ Windham

Thurs., May 2 H GORHAM

Tues., May 7 H WESTBROOK

Thurs., May 9 H MARSHWOOD

Fri., May 10 @ Noble

Tues., May 14 @ Biddeford

Thurs., May 16 @ Massabesic

Sat., May 18 H KENNEBUNK

Tues., May 21 H PORTLAND

Thurs, May 23 H SCARBOROUGH

Sat., May 25 @ SP

Tues., May 28 @ Gorham

SOFTBALL

Sat., April 20 @ Massabesic

Mon., April 22 H DEERING

Wed., April 24 @ McAuley

Fri., April 26 H KENNEBUNK

Mon., April 29 @ Marshwood

Fri., May 3 H WINDHAM

Mon., May 6 @ Westbrook

Wed., May 8 H BIDDEFORD

Fri., May 10 @ Portland

Mon., May 13 H SP

Wed., May 15 @ Gorham

Fri., May 17 H BONNY EAGLE

Mon., May 20 @ Scarborough

Wed., May 22 H TA

Fri., May 24 @ Noble

Tues., May 28 H SANFORD

BOYS' LACROSSE

Wed., April 17 H TA

Sat., April 20 H SP

Wed., April 24 @ Noble

Sat., April 27 H WAYNFLETE

Wed., May 1 H MASSABESIC

Wed., May 8 @ Westbrook

Fri., May 10 H CAPE ELIZABETH

Wed., May 15 H PORTLAND

Mon., May 20 @ Gorham

Wed., May 22 @ Windham

Wed., May 29 H MARSHWOOD

GIRLS' LACROSSE

Tues., April 23 H MASSABESIC

Thurs., April 25 @ McAuley

Fri., April 26 @ NYA

Tues., April 30 @ Portland

Fri., May 3 H DEERING

Tues., May 7 H MARSHWOOD

Thurs., May 9 @ Scarborough

Tues., May 14 H WINDHAM

Fri., May 17 @ Kennebunk

Tues., May 21 @ TA

Thurs., May 23 H GORHAM

Tues., May 28 H WAYNFLETE

BOYS' TENNIS

Mon., April 22 @ SP

Wed., April 24 H SCARBOROUGH

Fri., April 26 @ TA

Mon., April 29 H MASSABESIC

Wed., May 1 H PORTLAND

Fri., May 3 @ Deering

Wed., May 8 @ Sanford

Fri., May 10 H WESTBROOK

Mon., May 13 @ Bonny Eagle

Wed., May 15 H KENNEBUNK

Fri., May 17 H MARSHWOOD

Mon., May 20 @ Windham

GIRLS' TENNIS

Mon., April 22 H SP

Wed., April 24 @ Scarborough

Fri., April 26 H TA

Mon., April 29 @ Massabesic

Wed., May 1 @ Portland

Fri., May 3 H DEERING

Wed., May 8 H MCAULEY

Fri., May 10 @ Westbrook

Mon., May 13 H BONNY EAGLE

Wed., May 15 H Kennebunk

Fri., May 17 @ Marshwood

Mon., May 20 H WINDHAM