Fresh off eclipsing the 30-win mark en route to its first America East championship since 2011, Maine readies for an encore with three returning .300 hitters pacing the offense and a pitching staff with proven options at the forefront.
There’s little doubt that junior first baseman Jeremiah Jenkins will lead the way after earning America East and NCBWA District 1 Player of the Year honors in 2023, but even losing the uber-athletic duo of Quinn McDaniel (Eliot, Maine) to the San Francisco Giants and Jake Rainess to Houston shouldn’t hinder the Black Bears from putting together a lineup — albeit one with a new look — made up exclusively of players with college experience.
Add in fellow All-America East first-team pick Connor Goodman at the designated hitter spot and some combination of stud sophomore Gianni Gambardella (West Haven, Conn.), junior lefty Caleb Leys (Middletown, R.I.) and senior workhorse Noah Lewis (South Portland, Mane) likely making up the pitching rotation, and there’s plenty to excite eighth-year coach Nick Derba.
“We’ve got a lot of returners, but you still don’t know who’s who because some roles will change, right? We’ll have to do some things differently,” Derba said. “I don’t know if we’ll slug the way we did last year, but I do think pitching will have to be strong. I think we’ll pitch the way we need to, then we’ll probably need to do some more things on the bases to manufacture more runs.”