Portland Bulldogs Spring Athletes of the Year

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Male:

DAN MARZILLI, Senior-Baseball

* SMAA all-star, second team

Marzilli was one of the league’s best pitchers during the regular season, then he cemented his legend with a playoff performance for the ages to cap yet another highly successful season for the Bulldogs.

Marzilli started playing baseball in T-ball and was a catcher initially, but his shelf life as a lefthander at that position was short and in fifth grade, he began pitching. Marzilli played for Deering as a freshman and sophomore, then came to Portland as a junior, where he stepped right in as an ace, going 4-1 with a 2.17 earned run average, helping the Bulldogs get to the regional final.

“I was excited to play for (Portland coach Mike Rutherford),” said Marzilli. “I knew how successful he was.”

Marzilli, who was a captain on a Bulldogs football team which got to the state final in November, was even better this spring, going 5-2 in the regular season with a 2.10 ERA. In 50 innings, he allowed just 28 hits and 15 earned runs, striking out 39 and walking just 20. His durability was best illustrated by tying Sanford’s Frankie Veino for most appearances (10) and tying Veino and Scarborough’s Mitchell Wedge in starts made (8). He was second to Wedge in innings pitched, tied for third in the league in wins, tied for sixth in strikeouts and he picked off more than a dozen baserunners.

Highlights included a win in relief versus Sanford, a two-hit gem in a win over Windham, a four-hit shutout against Marshwood and a two-hit, five-strikeout performance in a win over Massabesic.

He also had a hit in his lone at-bat.

After Portland beat Kennebunk in the preliminary round of the playoffs, Marzilli got the ball at Thornton Academy for the quarterfinals. The Bulldogs lost at the Golden Trojans in the regular season, but Marzilli threw a one-hit shutout and Portland eked out a 1-0 victory.

“I like pitching because I’m in control of the game,” Marzilli said. “I don’t cave under pressure. I’m very competitive and I always want to do more.”

“He put the team on his shoulders against TA,” said Rutherford. “We just needed to get him one run.”

The Bulldogs lost at Falmouth in the semifinals, but it was another strong season regardless.

Marzilli is playing American Legion baseball this summer and took part in football’s Lobster Bowl. He’s planning to attend Southern Maine Community College in the fall, where he’ll study Fire Science. He hasn’t decided if he’ll play baseball.

He certainly has the goods to be successful at the next level. Dan Marzilli, Portland’s Spring Male Athlete of the Year, had a brilliant senior campaign and bowed out with a heroic performance.

Coach Mike Rutherford’s comment: “The last two years, when the game was on the line, we wanted Danny on the mound. We wouldn’t have been the number one team two years ago or have gotten to the semifinals this year without him. He’s very soft spoken, but he’s a gritty competitor. He progressed and got stronger every game. He pitched to contact and let us make plays. He did what a number one pitcher is supposed to do. He proved he was one of the top players in the league.”

Previous winners:

2015 Ryan Ruhlin (baseball)

2014 Jonathan Bobe (track)

2013 Caleb Fraser (baseball)

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)

Female:

JESS BROWN, Sophomore-Softball

  • SMAA all-star, honorable mention

Brown’s powerful right arm sparked Portland’s best season in over a decade and the good news for the Bulldogs is that she has two years left and she’s only going to get better.

Brown started playing softball at a young age and wasn’t crazy about it until the age of nine when she learned to pitch. She was destined to fall in love with the sport, however, as her grandfather helped establish the city’s first softball league and her mother played as well.

As a freshman at Portland, Brown played junior varsity and saw a couple varsity innings, but not much was expected of her (or her team) heading into the 2016 season.

Brown had spent countless hours in the offseason (while also playing volleyball) devoting herself to improving her craft and she emerged as the ace this spring, going 8-6 with a 2.63 earned run average. Brown allowed just 68 hits in 83 innings and she struck out 113 batters.

She was pretty good with the bat in her hand too, producing a .335 average, finishing second on the team in hits, scoring 10 runs and driving in 11.

Regular season highlights included a no-hit, 18-strikeout masterpiece versus Cheverus, a one-hit, 10-K win over McAuley, three hits and a win over South Portland (the Bulldogs’ first over the Red Riots since 2005), a five-hit, eight-K shutout win over eventual state champion Biddeford, 12 strikeouts and a triple in a four-hit victory over Deering, a triple which led to the winning run in an extra inning triumph at Windham and a five-hit, 10-K victory over Bonny Eagle, in a game in which she also had three hits and scored twice.

Portland finished with a winning record for the first time in a decade and earned a home playoff game for the first time in nearly a decade. In the preliminary round, versus a Marshwood squad which beat the Bulldogs, 5-0, in the regular season, Portland produced its first playoff win since 2006, rallying to win in dramatic fashion, 3-2, in eight innings. Brown allowed just two runs on three hits and struck out 12. She also drove in the tying run in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings and keep Portland’s season alive.

The Bulldogs were finally vanquished by Scarborough in the quarterfinals, but the thrills of 2016 won’t be forgotten.

“My goal was to get one varsity start,” said Brown. “Cheverus was a big confidence booster. Winning is always fun.”

Brown, who throws a fastball, change-up and drop ball, wants the game in her hands.

“I like to be in control,” Brown said. “The pitcher gets to handle the ball on every play. I knew I could contribute.”

Brown is continuing to work on her craft this summer, playing on the Thunder travel team, as well as doing camps and clinics. She’s a member of Portland’s Executive Board, Yearbook and Math team and volunteers as a tutor. She hopes to be even better next season and has a long term goal of playing softball in college.

And based on her dramatic growth and ability to thrive in big spots, it wouldn’t be wise to bet against her. Jess Brown, Portland’s Spring Female Athlete of the Year, had a season to remember and the good times are only going to continue.

Coach Robbie Ferrante’s comment: “Jess put in the extra work and matured not just as a sophomore player, but also as a young lady. Jess is good and she’s still getting better. For a sophomore, she’s very cool. She handles herself very well. She never missed practice. She didn’t want to come out of games. She wanted the ball. She’s an athlete and she’s very dedicated.”

Previous winners:

2015 Margot Andreasen (tennis)

2014 Annette Denekas (tennis)

2013 Annette Denekas (tennis)

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)

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

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