Scarborough Red Storm Spring Sports Preview

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Junior Lilly Volk is one of the league’s best pitchers and she’ll throw some key innings again this spring for a Scarborough softball team seeking to avenge last year’s loss in the Class A state final.

File photos.

More photos below.

BASEBALL

Coach: Mike D’Andrea (first year)

2015 record: 7-9 (no postseason)

Top returning players: Nick Lorello (Senior), Mitchell Wedge (Senior)

Pivotal games: April 28 @ Marshwood, May 10 @ Deering, May 14 @ South Portland, May 16 CHEVERUS, May 19 @ Westbrook, May 21 @ Gorham, May 24 MARSHWOOD, May 28 THORNTON ACADEMY, May 30 PORTLAND

Coach’s comment: “There are going to be a lot of ups and down, but I have good kids. They’re willing and ready for a different approach. Once our system is installed, we’ll be OK. We’re trying to play fundamentally strong baseball, good defense and put the ball in play on offense. I want to be a very good team by the end of the season and make the playoffs.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Last spring, Scarborough fell short of the playoffs for the first time in a 11 years and this season, the program has a new look as it is welcomes one of the finest coaches around, Mike D’Andrea. D’Andrea won six Class A state titles in his decade-long stint at Deering and also led the Nova Seafoods American Legion team to the 2004 World Series title. He has spent the past few years running the Maine Lightning travel program. D’Andrea inherits a Red Storm team that is building, but one which has promise.

Wedge (1-2 with a 2.13 earned run average in 2015) leads the pitching staff, which also includes senior Josh Reed (2.10 ERA in limited action last year) and sophomores Connor Kelly and Zoltan Tanye. Senior Bailey Welsh is the catcher.

Offensively, Lorello, the shortstop, will lead the way. He hit .313 and had seven steals during a second-team league all-star campaign last season. Junior Tim Carion, an outfielder, is another returning bat. The biggest addition is Fall and Winter Male Athlete of the Year Matt Caron, who looks to cap his triumphant senior season by returning to baseball and making an immediate impact. Expect him to do that very thing. Several other players will look to make their mark.

While D’Andrea doesn’t have the talent he had at Deering, he’ll instill strong fundamentals and get his players to take chances and believe they can win. By season’s end, don’t be the least bit surprised if Scarborough has surprised and is in position to do damage in the playoffs. If the Red Storm get to the postseason, no squad will want to go up against them with their season on the line.

SOFTBALL

Coach: Tom Griffin (27th year, 393-87 overall record, five state championships)

2015 record: 19-1 (Lost, 1-0, to Messalonskee in Class A Final)

Top returning players: Chloe Gorey (Senior), Tori Hale (Senior), Maggie Murphy (Senior), Kaleigh Scoville (Senior), Abbie Murrell (Junior), Hannah Ricker (Junior), Lilly Volk (Junior), Chloe Griffin (Sophomore), Laura Powell (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 25 SANFORD, May 2 @ South Portland, May 9 @ Gorham, May 11 SOUTH PORTLAND, May 20 THORNTON ACADEMY, May 25 @ Massabesic, May 27 BIDDEFORD

Coach’s comment: “Last year was one of the most fun seasons I’ve had because of the great group of kids. We have another group like that this year. We graduated three starters. We’re rotating three pitchers. Our depth is different this year. We’ve always had a good bench, but this year, all 16 players are varsity-caliber. It’s the strongest team I’ve had through the entire roster. The whole league will be better, but last year is a motivating factor. Only (winning the title) will satisfy them at this point.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Scarborough looked unbeatable last year until it met its match in Messalonskee in the state final. That unexpected setback was disappointing, but will also serve as fuel for the returning players, who join a strong group of newcomers to make up a typical Red Storm powerhouse.

Scarborough said goodbye to leftfielder Sophie Burnham, second baseman Ashley Gleason and catcher Brittany Plowman, but has plenty of firepower back, both on the mound and at the plate. Volk (who has verbally commited to the University of Maine) was a first-team all-star pitcher as a sophomore and she’ll remain an ace this season, but this time around, she’ll share time with Griffin, a second-team all-star last year, and Murrell, another reigning first-teamer. Ricker, who saw spot duty behind the plate as a freshman and sophomore, will be the full-time catcher this season.

The infield is rich with talent, as Scoville, first-team all-star, plays first base (she hit 514 with 25 runs batted in in 2015), Gorey, a second-teamer, is back at shortstop, and Murphy, a first-teamer, is playing third and hitting leadoff (she had an average of ,378 and scored 22 times last season). Griffin, Hale and Powell are in the outfield. After that, several players will look to make their mark, either as a pinch-runner, a late inning reserve or a spot starter. All of which adds up to a nightmare for the opposition.

While Class A South is deeper this spring, once again, the road to the title goes through Scarborough. The Red Storm have now gone a veritable eternity of two years without a championship. If this group produces as expected, that drought will end come June 18.

BOYS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Joe Hezlep (ninth year, 97-23 overall record, five state championships)

2015 record: 9-5 (Lost, 11-8, to Thornton Academy in Western A semifinals)

Top returning players: Cam Nigro (Senior), Wyatt Tanner (Senior), Sam Neugebauer (Junior), Cam Thibault (Junior), Reece Lagerquist (Sophomore), Marco Manfra (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 22 SOUTH PORTLAND, April 27 @ Westbrook, April 30 @ Cape Elizabeth, May 3 THORNTON ACADEMY, May 14 YARMOUTH, May 17 @ Cheverus

Coach’s comment: “Things are progressing nicely. We were young last year and we’re even younger this year, but the guys we have back are really talented. The league is tougher than ever. We have to get better every day. We’ll make up for our mistakes with raw talent. The guys are doing their best. It will come down to how long it takes us to develop into a unit. It’ll be fun.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Scarborough overcame an 0-2 start and put it all together as last season progressed, but for the second straight spring, was sent packing by Thornton Academy. This time around, the Red Storm are ready to make a run back to the top of Class A.

While the play and leadership from the likes of departed reigning Spring Male Athlete of the Year Nate Howard and Kevin Caldwell will be missed, this year’s team features a lot of players eager to become household names. The offense will start with Lagerquist or Nigro in the faceoff circle. Both are capable of winning possession the majority of the time. Manfra, who started as a freshman, will be in the middle of the action. Neugebauer could be primed for a breakout year. Nigro and Thibault will also be offensive stars. Lagerquist, an imposing 6-foot-5, 190-pounds, joins Tanner on defense. The big question mark heading into the season is in goal, where junior Dominic Joy replaces Isaac Rico. Several other players hope to earn playing time and develop into key contributors over the course of the season. Scarborough opened by rallying from a four-goal second half deficit only to lose, 9-8, to Gorham in double overtime Saturday night. Neugebauer had four goals.

On paper at least, two-time defending regional champion South Portland and Thornton Academy have come back to the pack. That gives Scarborough an opportunity to return to its form of 2006-2013, when it won six of eight Class A crowns. For that to happen, the Red Storm will need to follow last year’s script and improve throughout the regular season, then turn it up a notch for the playoffs. This group is capable of rising to that challenge.

GIRLS’ LACROSSE

Coach: Stephanie Belanger (first year)

2015 record: 10-5 (Lost, 16-3, to eventual state champion Marshwood in Western A Final)

Top returning players: Abby Corbin (Senior), Emma Crovo (Senior), Alex McCown (Senior), Emma Smith (Senior), Lily Nygren (Junior), Sami Shoebottom (Junior), Ellie Smith (Sophomore)

Pivotal games: April 30 @ Waynflete, May 12 @ Thornton Academy, May 14 YARMOUTH, May 16 MASSABESIC, May 19 @ Marshwood, May 24 @ Cheverus

Coach’s comment: “I see so much potential and skill that can be utilized in all aspects of the game. As a program, we are ready to face any challenge that we are given. We are ready to compete in every game at the highest level possible. We are ready to pick up where this team left off last year. My hopes are to bring each player’s skill to the next level and to help them face mental and physical challenges head on. We are ready to compete in each game with hopes of playing on June 18.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Scarborough again returns some top-notch talent, welcomes some promising newcomers and for the second straight season, a new coach is in place. Belanger replaces Michaela Wipfler as head coach. Belanger has an impressive lacrosse resume. She played at Lewiston High School and Utica College, where she was a highly decorated goalie. Belanger previously coached at Lewiston, Cape Elizabeth and Colby and with the Maineiax club program.

The Red Storm will be among the best teams in the region again, thanks to several standout players. The offense will be paced by Corbin (a first-team all-star in 2015), Nygren, Ellie Smith and Emma Smith (a first-team all-star a year ago who will handle draws). Sophomore Maegan Neelon is a newcomer who could fill the net as well. Defensively, Crovo and McCown lead the way in front of Winter Female Athlete of the Year Shoebottom (another first-team all-star last spring), who returns in goal.

Scarborough faces tough competition from both Class A and B, but by June, as usual, the Red Storm will be in the mix for a championship. After falling short the past three seasons, this year, Scarborough might just return to the pinnacle.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Coaches:

(Boys) Derek Veilleux (13th year, one state championship)
(Girls) Ron Kelly (44th year, 10 state championships)

2015 results:

(Boys) 2nd @ Class A state meet
(Girls) 8th @ Class A state meet

Top returning athletes:

(Boys) Chris Dionne (Senior), Connor Doherty (Senior), Andrew Sholl (Senior), Colin Tardiff (Senior), Ben Batoosingh (Junior), Alex Dionne (Junior), Sawyer Hebert (Junior), Connor Langlois (Junior), Shamus Malia (Junior), Sebastian Osborne (Junior), Sam Rusak (Junior), Luke Grover (Sophomore)

(Girls) Elizabeth Gentile (Senior),  Laura Volan (Senior), Marisa Carbone (Junior), Edie Christian (Junior), Emma Koukos (Junior), Ellen Shaw (Junior), Kirsten Dennen (Sophomore), Hannah Griffin (Sophomore), Marina Horner (Sophomore), Caitlin McCaffery (Sophomore), Gaby Panagakos (Sophomore), Bethany Sholl (Sophomore), Natalie Taylor (Sophomore)

Coach Veilleux’s comment: “We have a strong nucleus back and we’ll be looking to complete the ‘triple crown,’ winning cross country, indoor track and outdoor track state titles in the same year, something that the seniors are extra motivated for. We’ll look to improve throughout the season aiming for our best performances at the end. We’ll need to stay healthy to be at our best. We’ve got 21 freshman out for the team, which is the most we’ve ever had. There is plenty of talent for the future. Our strength is in distance, pole vault and high jump. We should have strong relays as well.”

Coach Kelly’s comment: “Our strengths are distance, relays, high jump, discus and javelin. The key will be the development of our young throwers. Bonny Eagle, Edward Little and Thornton Academy are the favorites, but we will be in the mix.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Another exciting year is in store for the Scarborough outdoor track program.

The boys have been standard-bearers for awhile and have a chance to do something special this spring if they can add an outdoor crown to those won in cross country and indoors. Top returners include Rusak (runner-up in the pole vault last season, he’ll also compete in the long jump). Tardiff (sixth in the mile and part of a runner-up 4×800 relay team in 2015), Batoosingh (part of scoring 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams) and Chris Dionne (part of the 4×100 relay squad). Doherty, Grover, Malia and Sholl, along with freshman Harrison Osborne, join Tardiff in the distance. Batoosingh and Dionne pace the sprinters. Freshman Noah Drapeau could make his mark in the 400. Langlois will be a threat in the hurdles. On the field side, Alex Dionne joins Rusak in the pole vault. Hebert will be the top jumper. Osborne looks to score in the discus and shot put. He’ll be joined by freshman Connor Oliver. Scarborough will be a powerhouse in the league and should enjoy a strong regular season, but it’s the postseason where the Red Storm will be measured. If all goes well, it’s quite likely they’ll complete the trifecta and make history.

On the girls’ side, Scarborough has an abundance of youth that shows promise. Several veterans return as well. Volan placed fourth in the state in the mile last year. She’ll also compete in the two-mile this spring. She’s joined in the distance events by Sholl and sophomore Hannah Griffin. Carbone, Panagakos and freshman Maddison Diaz run the middle distance races. Shaw was fourth in the 100 hurdles in 2015 and hopes to move up. McCaffery is a top sprinter. Koukos will run relays. On the field side, Gentile was sixth in the discus last season. Horner, Taylor and freshman Leah Dickman also throw. Christian and Dennen look to score in the pole vault. Shaw is the top jumper. The Red Storm have the pieces in place to be very strong all season and to move up at states, perhaps into the top five for the first time since winning their last championship in 2012.

BOYS’ TENNIS

Coach: Craig McDonald (16th year)

2015 results: 9-5 (Lost, 5-0, to eventual champion Falmouth in Western A quarterfinals)

Top returning players: Riley Arsenault (Senior), Stephan Gikas (Senior), Andrew Paradis (Senior), Alex Giles (Junior), Jack McCloskey (Junior)

Pivotal matches: April 25 PORTLAND, April 27 @ Bonny Eagle, April 29 CHEVERUS, May 4 THORNTON ACADEMY, May 18 @ Windham, May 20 DEERING

Coach’s comment: “We look to use our depth and experience to have a successful campaign. Five returning starters should bolster our chances in making it deep into the playoffs.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Scarborough has long been a Class A contender, reaching the playoffs 11 years in a row, but is still chasing that elusive first state title. This year’s team should be in the hunt again.

Five of last year’s starting seven return. Arsenault and Paradis played singles in 2015. Giles was part of the top doubles team, while Gikas and McCloskey made up the second doubles squad. Who will play where was still being determined at press time. Junior Ryan Barr and freshman Ethan Boardman also figure to be in the mix.

This year’s team is talented and hungry and while there are some good teams in Class A South and while powerhouse Falmouth looms in the postseason, Scarborough should be up for the challenge of making a deep run.

GIRLS’ TENNIS

Coach: Steve Eddy (fifth year)

2015 results: 13-2 (Lost, 4-1, to eventual champion Falmouth in Western A Final)

Top returning players: Kaicee Flaherty (Senior), Emily Keenan (Senior), Megan Nathanson (Senior), Bryce Nitchman (Senior), Maureen DeGrinney (Junior)

Pivotal matches: May 4 @ Thornton Academy, May 18 WINDHAM, May 19 GORHAM

Coach’s comment: “We were 13-2 last season and even took a point off juggernaut Falmouth in the Western Maine Final. We lost five of seven starters from that team to graduation or injury, but I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll have a good season.”

The Forecaster’s forecast: Scarborough has been a semifinalist or better seven years running and should be among the best teams in the region again this spring.

Two all-stars return this season. Nathanson was a first-teamer for singles and was named Spring Female Athlete of the Year after reaching the Round of 16 at the state singles tournament. She’ll be in the top spot and should fare quite well against the top players from other teams. Nitchman, who was a first-team doubles all-star in 2015, DeGrinney, Flaherty and Keenan were also battling for singles spots at press time. Those who don’t play singles will likely be second doubles. Olivia Boothe Howe, Anna Driscoll, Brielle Hardy and Caitlin Merrill, along with freshmen Meghan DeGrinney and Amelia Hardy, are also in the hunt for spots.

There isn’t a heavy favorite this year (other than Falmouth come the postseason), so the Red Storm have an opportunity to win a lot of matches and earn a high playoff seed. Scarborough should be heard from for multiple postseason rounds yet again.

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

Senior Nick Lorello was an all-star last spring. This season, he’s a leader on a new-look Scarborough baseball team which has playoff aspirations.

Mitchell Wedge is a top returning pitcher for the Red Storm.

Senior Chloe Gorey is back for one more season at shortstop.

Expect sophomore Chloe Griffin to play an even bigger role this season.

Senior Maggie Murphy has been integral to the Red Storm’s success in recent seasons. She’ll be the leadoff hitter this spring.

Junior Abbie Murrell wields a potent bat and will make an impact on the mound as well this spring.

No opposing pitcher will relish the sight of senior Kaleigh Scoville stepping to the plate.

Senior Cam Nigro hopes to lead Scarborough’s boys’ lacrosse team back to the championship after the Red Storm have lost in the semifinals the past two seasons.

Sophomore Marco Manfra started as a freshman and will be a key player again this spring.

Junior Sam Neugebauer will score a lot of goals in the weeks to come.

Junior Cam Thibault is another returning scoring threat.

Senior Abby Corbin was an all-star a year ago and returns to lead Scarborough’s girls’ lacrosse team deep into the playoffs once more.

Ellie Smith made her mark as a freshman and should be an even bigger scorer this season.

Senior Emma Smith was an all-star last season and will be a force in the draw circle and with the ball on her stick this spring.

Junior Sami Shoebottom is best known for her hockey brilliance, but she’s been pretty solid in goal in lacrosse as well.

Senior distance standout Laura Volan returns for one final track season. She and her teammates should be very strong in the weeks to come.

Senior Megan Nathanson got to the Round of 16 in last year’s state singles tournament and will play first singles for a Scarborough girls’ tennis team that is eyeing the top spot.

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