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Cheverus Stags Spring Sports Preview

Sports

Cheverus Stags Spring Sports Preview

What has already been a banner year for Cheverus athletics figures to continue to deliver triumph this spring. Baseball is coming off its best season in years and should be in contention again. Softball continues to improve and is at the point where it is one of the first teams mentioned on the list of favorites. Both the boys' and girls' lacrosse squads figure to challenge. Boys' and girls' track have great athletes across the board. The boys' tennis team has been very strong in recent seasons and should be solid again. The girls' squad welcomes a new coach and looks to move up the standings.

BASEBALL

Coach: Mac McKew (second year)

2009 Record: 11-7 (Lost 7-3 to Deering in Western Class A semifinals)

Top returning players: Kyle Randall (Senior), Nic Lops (Junior), Joey Royer (Junior)

Pivotal games: April 24 (H) DEERING, May 4 @ Thornton Academy, May 13 (H) SOUTH PORTLAND, May 18 (H) SCARBOROUGH, May 20 @ Portland, May 25 (H) WESTBROOK, June 1 @ Deering

Coach's comment: “We're a young team with only three seniors. Our younger players will have to step up to the challenge.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Cheverus is coming off its first trip to the semifinals since 2003 and its most victories since 2002. McKew (last year's league Coach of the Year) had great success in his initial season and he and his team hope to keep the good times rolling this spring. On the hill, the Stags will be paced by Randall (coming off a state title in basketball), who had an earned run average of 1.85 in 30.1 innings last season, and Royer (3.04 ERA in 27.2 innings in an All-Rookie season of 2009). Sophomore Louie DiStasio will also see his share of time on the hill and could emerge as a top arm. Offensively, Lops leads the way. A catcher, Lops hit .517 with four doubles and five runs batted in as a designated hitter a year ago. Junior outfielders Jack Bushey and Peter Potthoff, along with senior second baseman Joe Falconieri (11 hits last spring), will also be heard from. Several youngsters have an opportunity to step in and make a mark. While defending champion Deering and talented Westbrook are the clear SMAA favorites, there is room for other teams to make a move. After last year's run and with the potential on this squad, there's reason to believe that Cheverus could post another winning mark, earn a good playoff seed and go on an exciting postseason run.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Amy McMullin (second year)

2009 Record: 12-5 (Lost 7-6 to Bonny Eagle in Western A quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Audrey Grinnell (Senior), Theresa Hendrix (Senior), Keturah Smith (Senior), Anna Snook (Senior)

Pivotal games: May 17 @ Thornton Academy, May 19 (H) SCARBOROUGH, May 21 @ Biddeford, May 26 @ South Portland, June 1 (H) BONNY EAGLE

Coach's comment: “We have a strong group of senior starters returning. With a transfer and a few freshmen added to the lineup, we should be a strong contender. Coming off a best-ever season, we're hoping to push further into the playoffs. The girls are very focused and determined. As long as we can get our defensive unit working together, we should do very well.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Cheverus has increased its win total each of the past three seasons and last year's 12 victories were easily a program high. Now that the Stags have arrived as top contenders, they look to be a postseason force. This year's team has great potential. Hendrix is coming off a marvelous season which saw her strikeout 124 batters, post a 1.60 earned run average and hit .466. She was a second-team league all-star and was named Cheverus' Spring Female Athlete of the Year for the second year in a row. She figures to remain dominant, even with the mound moved back three feet. She's battle-tested and can influence a game with her pitching and her bat. Freshman Izzy Grasso will see some time on the mound as well. Grinnell (who caught last year, but will primarily play first this season) is bound for the University of Connecticut and is another threat with the bat. She hit .400 a year ago, made the SMAA first team and was named the league's Co-Defensive Player of the Year. Mix in Snook (.308 in 2009) and Smith (.256 a year ago) and the Stags will score their share of runs. Junior transfer (from McAuley) Jasmyn Welch will step in behind the plate and could also be a force with the bat. She made the league all-star team a year ago. Snook, Grinnell and freshman Staci Swallow anchor the infield. Smith and senior Maggie Grindatti highlight the outfield. This is likely the strongest Cheverus team yet. While defending champion Scarborough is still the team to beat, the Stags believe they can compete with anyone. Cheverus has never gotten past the quarterfinals, but this year's team is capable of advancing deeper. Perhaps much deeper.

BOYS' LACROSSE

Coach: Deke Andrew (12th year)

2009 Record: 5-9 (Lost 12-1 to Scarborough in Western Class A quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Stefano Caiazzo (Senior), Max Miller (Senior), Sean Oddy (Senior), Matt Rague (Senior), Evan Jendrasko (Junior), Peter Dyche (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 21 (H) SOUTH PORTLAND, April 23 @ Scarborough, April 28 (H) THORNTON ACADEMY, May 15 (H) YARMOUTH

Coach's comment: “We're very young. I don't think we have more than five seniors and five juniors. The rest are freshmen and sophomores. Most of the sophomores played quite a bit last year. It's a very smart team. I think we're definitely a playoff team. I'm very excited.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Cheverus' three-year run of trips to the semifinals came to an end last year. This season, the Stags, along with city rivals Deering and Portland, will be in Eastern A for the playoffs. They should get there and be a factor. There's a big upside with this group. Offensively, Cheverus will turn to Caiazzo, Dyche and Jendrasko to lead the way. Jendrasko was a longstick defender last spring, but will bring his skills to the offensive side this season. New junior Connor McKechnie, a speedster, and a junior transfer from York, Garrett Naimie (a potential groundball specialist), will also be heard from. The defensive unit features Miller, Rague and new senior Tom Yates. Oddy will be the last line of defense in goal. The Stags' youth will bite them at times, but there are a lot of favorable games on the schedule. Look for Cheverus to be consistent on both offense and defense, to return to its winning ways and be a factor in the Eastern A playoffs. By year's end, the Stags could be stealing the headlines.

GIRLS' LACROSSE

Coach: Jamie Chamberlain (fifth year)

2009 Record: 4-8 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Bri Amato (Senior), Emily Cianchette (Senior), Grace Fitzpatrick (Senior), Grace Franson (Senior), Katie Haley (Senior), Anna McDonough (Senior), Casey Sutton (Senior), Emily Van Duzer (Senior), Sage Witham (Senior), Paige Lucas (Junior), Meghan MacGillivray (Junior)

Pivotal games: May 3 (H) PORTLAND, May 6 @ Deering, May 13 (H) SCARBOROUGH, May 15 @ Waynflete, May 21 (H) KENNEBUNK, May 25 (H) THORNTON ACADEMY, May 28 @ Gorham

Coach's comment: “Our settled defense and attack I think will be the strong parts of our team. We need to be consistent in transition and take care of the ball to be able to compete with everyone. We'd like to get back to the playoffs.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Last year, the Stags missed the playoffs for the first time since their initial varsity season in 2005. This time around, Cheverus should be competitive throughout and will be in the mix in the new playoff format which has the Stags in Eastern Class A. Cheverus is senior-heavy this season and several of those girls have enjoyed success in the past. This year's roster features a lot of talent. The offense includes several potential goal scorers, led by reigning SMAA all-stars Fitzpatrick and Van Duzer, along with Amato and Franson. Witham moves from defense to the midfield and is joined by McDonough and new sophomore Sarah LaQuerre, who will handle draws. On defense, Cianchette, Lucas, Sutton and junior Taylor Witham, along with MacGillivray (who moves back from attack), form a pretty formidable unit. Haley will be in goal. The first half of the schedule is very favorable and the Stags should get off to a good start, gaining confidence in the process. Scarborough and Waynflete, along with dangerous foes like Thornton Academy and Gorham await in the second half, but by then, Cheverus should be in full stride. It won't be easy, but the Stags figure to be one of the better teams in the region and will return to their familiar spot of being a force in the postseason.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Boys' Coach: Bruce Bickford (second year)

Girls' Coach: Valerie Guillet (10th year)

2009 Results:

(Boys) 4th @ Class A state meet

(Girls) 9th @ Class A state meet

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Taylor Dundas (Senior), Beau Michaud (Senior), James Rutter (Senior), Andrew Snyder (Senior), John White (Senior), Tim Woods (Senior), Jack Terwilliger (Junior)

(Girls) Emily Ford (Senior), Ashley Giddinge (Senior), Amelia Lundkvist (Senior), Hanna Lyons (Senior), Abby Norbert (Senior), Liana Rubinoff (Senior), Caroline Summa (Junior), Emily Durgin (Sophomore), Lizzie Gwilym (Sophomore), Fiona Hendry (Sophomore), Katie Shapiro (Sophomore).

Top foes: Scarborough, Thornton Academy

Coach Bickford's comment: “We have record numbers out this spring. That's a good sign. We think we're stronger this year. With all our seniors, we need to make a move this year. We expect big things from our distance runners. We're looking for sprinters. We have a big freshman class. We're getting good kids to come out. The talent's there.”

Coach Guillet's comment: “This is our best team ever assembled in outdoor track. We'll probably have both quality and depth and are well positioned to do very well at states. That's what we're aiming for. I would be thrilled to see all my seniors end their season with high school personal records and they're all in a position to do that. It's wonderful to have almost all my distance runners back from cross country.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Both Cheverus track teams managed top 10 finishes a year ago and look to be among the best in the league and state this time around.

The boys will score a ton of points in the throws and the distance races. Last spring, Dundas, Terwillger and Snyder were part of a Class A 3,200 relay state champ. Terwilliger is also the reigning two-mile champion. Mix in Woods (second in the 800 last year) and the possibilities are thrilling. Michaud was runner-up in the discus last spring, while White was third in the discus and fifth in the shot put. Rutter and sophomore Cam Olsen will also be factors in the throws. Rutter is the top sprinting threat. Freshmen Jackson McMahon and David Terwilliger will compete in the hurdles. Freshman Malcolm Smith could be an eventual force in the jumps. Scarborough will be a top foe in the league and Brunswick will be formidable at states, but come June, the Stags could be primed to win their first championship since 1998.

On the girls' side, the Stags won a first-ever cross country championship in the fall and the heart of that juggernaut is running this spring, which means Cheverus could enjoy its best-ever finish outdoors. Last year, Lundkvist and Rubinoff both scored in the mile and two-mile at states. They're joined by Hendry and Norbert in the distance races. Summa is another standout. She was a league all-star a year ago, placing fourth in the high jump and fourth in the triple jump, as well as fifth in the 400. She'll be a threat in the jumps and shorter races again. Ford is also in the jumping mix. Lyons is a sprinter to watch. She was third in the 100 last spring. Durgin, Gwilym and Shapiro, along with new sophomores Armani Alonzo and Taylor Spang, look to make their mark and provide depth. The Stags have never finished higher than sixth at states. They appear to be a lock to do so this time around. They might even make it to the top of the heap.

BOYS' TENNIS

Coach: Wayne St. Peter (sixth year)

2009 Results: 11-3 (Lost 5-0 to Windham in Western A semifinals)

Top returning players: Evan Cianchette (Senior), Eliot Coates (Senior), D.J. Honan (Senior), Tom Mourmouras (Senior), Will Link (Junior), Conner O'Neil (Junior), David Woodbury (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: April 28 @ Deering, May 12 (H) PORTLAND, May 19 @ Windham

Coach's comment: “Our No. 1 and 2 singles are leftover from last year. We're still trying to figure out the rest. We hope to make the playoffs.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Cheverus has posted a winning record in each of the past eight seasons and should continue that trend this year. The Stags have a great chance to be a factor once again. Link will play first singles. O'Neil will be in the No. 2 spot. Coates (an SMAA all-star a year ago) and Honan will likely make up one doubles squad. Mourmouras, Cianchette and Woodbury are also in the mix and freshman Peter Higgins hopes to make a splash as well. Windham's the favorite in the region, but the door is open for other teams to make noise. If Cheverus can stay healthy and get production from both singles and doubles, it will continue its run of recent triumph.

GIRLS TENNIS

Coach: Erin Ovalle (first year)

2009 Results: 2-10 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Miriam Nielsen (Senior), Tasha Spellman (Senior), Emily Gibson (Sophomore), Abby Harrison (Sophomore)

Pivotal matches: April 28 (H) MCAULEY, May 5 (H) SCARBOROUGH, May 12 @ Portland, May 25 @ South Portland

Coach's comment: “I'm excited to be part of such a great organization and look forward to contributing what I can to these great athletes. We have a young team. I'm excited to see the girls grow and I'm sure we'll surprise our competitors. I look forward to a great year of fun and competitive playing. I've inherited a group of girls with great character, compassion and sportsmanship, all committed to achieving great success on and off the court.”

The Forecaster's forecast: Cheverus dipped from eight wins in 2008 to two last year, but there's reason to believe that the Stags will rebound this spring. The program welcomes a new coach in Ovalle, a lifelong player, who competed at Gordon College. Ovalle has served as an instructor and inherits a varsity team for the first time. The squad she takes over has promise and should move up the standings. While the ladder was still in progress at press time, it looks like Harrison, Nielsen and Spellman will lead the way. Sophomore Maria Cianchette, who was in Costa Rica last year, joins the team and will make a mark. Gibson also shows promise. Cheverus figures to be competitive with most teams in the league. Look for the Stags to gain momentum and confidence as the season goes on and have a good shot at being in the mix for the playoffs.

Photo: File photo

Junior Joey Royer will strike fear into opposing hitters this season as one of the league's top left-handers.

Photo: File photo

Sean Oddy assumes the goalie position for the Cheverus boys' lacrosse team this spring.

Photo: File photo

Cheverus senior Sage Witham will be right in the middle of the action this year as the Stags seek a playoff berth.

Photo: File photo

Senior Taylor Dundas is just one of several distance standouts the Cheverus boys' outdoor track team boasts in 2010.

Photo: File photo

Thrower Katie Shapiro will look to score for Cheverus' promising girls' outdoor track team.

Photo: File photo

Hanna Lyons is another top athlete for the Stags in outdoor track.

Photo: File photo

The Cheverus girls' outdoor track team features distance threats Liana Rubinoff (left) and Amelia Lundkvist.