Spring sports season underway-Portland edition

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While tennis and outdoor track kick off this week (see stories), several baseball, softball and lacrosse teams already have at least one game under their belt.

Here’s a glimpse at the abbreviated start to the 2016 season and a look at the busy slate to come:

Baseball

Portland’s baseball team stole headlines a year ago, sneaking up on the “experts,” en route to a trip to the regional final, but this season, the Bulldogs will get everyone’s best effort, something they learned last Thursday in their opener against visiting Biddeford,.

The Tigers scored twice in the top of the first, but in the fourth, Nick Archambault tripled home John Williams and Jack Nichols’ base hit brought in Archambault to make it 2-2. Biddeford went back on top with a run in the 6th, but in the bottom half, Joey Fusco singled home Archambault to tie it. Then, in the bottom of the seventh, pinch-hitter Thomas Joyce doubled and standout shortstop Jake Knop, who struggled in the field with three errors, got a chance to redeem himself and did so by singling to win it, 4-3.

“I knew we’d come back,” Knop said. “We have that in us. We’ve been that kind of team since the beginning of last year. I had confidence.” 

“I think Jake is the best infielder in the state, but it was Opening Day and he had jitters,” Bulldogs coach Mike Rutherford said. “His errors didn’t hurt us. He doesn’t let it bother him and he shook it off and got the big hit at the end. Last year, we won nine one-run games. That’s what we’re used to. It’s nice to steal one.”

Portland was back in action Tuesday when it hosted Westbrook (see theforecaster.net for game story). The Bulldogs welcome Gorham Thursday, visit Massabesic Saturday and play at Windham Tuesday of next week.

Deering also turned heads in a resurgent season last year, winning 11 games. The Rams weren’t able to get off to as promising a start as their rival, however, losing their home opener to Thornton Academy, 9-2. Deering managed seven hits in the first three innings against Golden Trojans ace Ben Lambert, but only scored once and despite three hits from Jake Latini and two each from Pat Viola and Ian Westphal, started 0-1.

“We just couldn’t string enough hits together,” said Deering coach Josh Stowell. “In spots where it would have been nice to put the ball in play, we struck out. They put pressure on us and we didn’t make plays and that hurt.”

The Rams looked to get in the win column Tuesday when Windham pays a visit (see theforecaster.net for game story). After hosting Biddeford Thursday, Deering is at Bonny Eagle Saturday and visits Westbrook Tuesday of next week.

Cheverus started with a 9-1 victory at Windham. Alex Jacobs struck out 11 and earned the win. Jack Casale, Jensen LaPoint, Logan McCarthy and Chris Vallee all had multiple hits. The Stags went to Thornton Academy Tuesday, host Sanford Saturday and play host to Marshwood Tuesday of next week.

In Class C South, Waynflete dropped its opener, 27-0, in five innings, to visiting Sacopee Valley. The Flyers hosted Old Orchard Beach Monday, welcome Greater Portland Christian School for a doubleheader Thursday, and play host to Traip Academy Monday of next week.

Softball

McAuley’s softball team made the playoffs a year ago, but entered the new season with few expectations. Friday, the Lions made quite a statement in their opener at Cheverus.

In the first inning alone, Chelsea Rairdon had a two-run double, Jill Joyce had an RBI hit and Lily Donovan crushed a two-run home run for a 5-0 lead. Ashley Littlefield held the Stags at bay in her first varsity start and McAuley put it away with eight runs in the sixth, capped by a home run from Maddie Beaulieu, and went on to a 15-2, six-inning triumph.

“It was a great start,” Beaulieu said. “We were focused on seeing the ball and driving it.”

“We’re better than people think,” Littlefield said. “We have a strong group of girls. We have a good team bond.”

“We have nothing to lose,” added McAuley coach Dawn Armandi. “Nobody expects us to do anything. I just want us to go out and play hard and show what we’re capable of. I’m pleasantly surprised how many hits we got. The girls came out and did it.”

The Lions were home with Westbrook Monday, go to Biddeford Wednesday, welcome Portland Friday and play at Marshwood Monday of next week.

Cheverus got two runs from Izzy Probert in the loss.

“Being down 5-0 out of the gate was tough,” Stags coach Cynthia Wescott said. “That home run took the wind out of our sails. We made an effort with our bats, but it just didn’t go our way today. 

Cheverus was at Portland Monday, welcomes Gorham Wednesday, goes to defending regional champion Scarborough Friday and plays host to Deering Monday of next week.

Speaking of the Rams, they got off to a promising start with a 6-4 home win over Westbrook Friday. Kaytlin DiBiase earned the victory, while Sydney Girioux and Kaylee Helmick had multiple hits. Deering was at Gorham Monday, hosts Scarborough Wednesday, goes to Noble Friday and visits Cheverus Monday of next week.

Portland started with a 7-1 loss at Sanford. The Bulldogs looked to get in the win column Monday when they hosted Cheverus. They play at Westbrook Wednesday and McAuley Friday, then welcome Thornton Academy Monday.

Boys’ lacrosse

Portland’s boys’ lacrosse team is off to a fast start, winning its first two games for the first time since 2011. The Bulldogs beat visiting Marshwood, 15-5, in the opener, then handled visiting Noble, 18-2. Wes Bryan, Drake McGhie, Charlie Kovarik, Robert Nolan and Reilly O’Brien all scored three times against the Knights.

“We wanted to hit the ground running this year, get a couple wins under our belt and see if we could get rolling right away,” McGhie said.

“It’s a really good start,” said Portland coach Mike DiFusco. “We’re getting our confidence up. Two wins under our belt is good for us.”

The Bulldogs went to Windham Tuesday, visit Oak Hill Saturday and play at Deering Tuesday of next week.

Cheverus lost its opener, 11-6, at Thornton Academy. The Stags hoped to get in the win column Tuesday when it hosted Deering. Cheverus is home against Kennebunk Saturday and goes to two-time defending regional champion South Portland Tuesday of next week.

Deering also lost its first game, 16-9, to visiting Westbrook. After going to Cheverus Tuesday, the Rams welcome Portland Tuesday of next week.

Waynflete dropped an 18-8 decision at three-time defending Class B state champion Cape Elizabeth in its opener. The Flyers host York Wednesday and welcome Thornton Academy Saturday.

Girls’ lacrosse

On the girls’ side, Portland, which stole headlines in reaching the regional final for the first time last spring, opened its season Monday at home versus Biddeford. After going to Scarborough Thursday, the Bulldogs welcome Lewiston Saturday and Massabesic Tuesday of next week.

McAuley, which made the playoffs last spring for the first time in a decade, played its first game Tuesday at defending Class A champion Marshwood. The Lions are home Thursday against Noble and Saturday versus Cony, then go to Biddeford Monday.

Deering started its season with a 14-2 home victory over Lawrence. The Rams host Biddeford Thursday and go to Noble Tuesday of next week.

Cheverus starts Thursday at Windham. After playing at Messalonskee Saturday, the Stags play their first home game Tuesday versus Bonny Eagle.

Waynflete enjoyed a dramatic 8-7 overtime victory at Cape Elizabeth in its opener. The Flyers rallied from a 6-3 deficit and got two goals apiece from Laura Baginski, Christian Rowe and Isabel Canning, who scored the winner in OT.

“Overtime is all about who wants it more,” Canning said. “I was looking to clear some space and I saw a corner. It feels awesome. I don’t remember ever scoring a game winning goal.”

“It was dramatic,” said longtime Waynflete coach Cathie Connors. “I’m psyched. I’m proud of the girls. (Cape’s) a good team. They’ll be worth some big (Heal Points) down the road.”

Waynflete returns to action Thursday at Falmouth in a playoff rematch. The Flyers play their first home game Saturday versus Scarborough. 

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

Sidebar Elements


Portland third Jack Nichols makes a nice running catch during the Bulldogs’ 4-3 win over Biddeford in last week’s season opener.

Cheverus’ Jill Hannigan makes contact during last week’s 15-2 loss to McAuley in the regular season opener.

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