Monmouth celebrates near pitchers mound after the the final out against Bucksport in the Class C baseball state championship on June 20 at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

It’s nothing new to see the Mountain Valley Conference on top of baseball, both regionally and statewide. If there were ever a season for that to happen again, it was this one.

Monmouth Academy, Oak Hill and Mt. Abram entered the 2023 campaign with rosters capable of challenging in Class C South. In the end, it was the Mustangs that took home the state title to highlight the central Maine season with the region’s first state title since Hall-Dale and Richmond in 2018.

Monmouth went through a brutal postseason slate to get there. The Mustangs took down reigning regional champ Lisbon, 14-win Oak Hill and undefeated and top-seeded Sacopee Valley to reach the Class C title game. There, they dethroned defending state champ Bucksport 3-0 to complete a 19-1 season.

“(It was) super special,” Monmouth sophomore Sammy Calder said. “It’s what we’ve worked so hard for for all these years, so to finally go out and do it, it just feels great. … We stepped up in all kinds of ways — pitching well, limiting the errors and getting hits and runs when we needed them.”

Calder played a big role in helping the Mustangs get there as he pitched complete-game shutouts in both the regional and state title games. Right behind him was Kyle Palleschi, who posted a 0.69 ERA. Both players hit over .400 for Monmouth, which also got contributions from Manny Calder, Hunter Frost and Matt Marquis at the plate.

Monmouth’s only loss on the season came against Oak Hill, a 3-0 decision on April 26. That loss, though a difficult one at the time, ended up setting Monmouth on the right track as it proceeded to win 18 straight games — including two revenge wins over the Raiders.


“You never want to lose, obviously, but looking back on it, I think it was a good loss for us,” Monmouth head coach Eric Palleschi said. “It kind of reminded us that, ‘Oh, there are some other good teams out there, and we’re going to have to really work to compete with them.’”

Oak Hill still had an outstanding year as it went 14-4 with its other losses coming to Mt. Abram and Winthrop. The Raiders had the MVC Player of the Year in Kyle Delano, who was also a Mr. Maine Baseball semifinalist, as well as two other standouts in Ethan Vattaso and Trent Drouin.

Led by a trio of strong underclassmen hitters in Payton Mitchell, Bryce Wilcox and Ash Rollins, Mt. Abram (12-5) pushed Monmouth and Oak Hill every step of the way. Winthrop (10-7), with the sophomore pitching trio of Carter Collin, Trent Collin and Braden Branagan, beat the Roadrunners and Raiders in the regular season.

Oak Hill High School pitcher Kyle Delano fires a pitch during a June 8 game against Spruce Mountain High School in Lewiston. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

In the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference, Cony had one of its finest seasons in program history as it finished 16-2. The Rams’ season had a bitter end with a 7-1 loss to Ellsworth in the Class B North semifinals, but not before they rattled off 12 straight wins as part of a memorable 2023 campaign. 

“It was definitely frustrating to have it end so abruptly, but that’s baseball,” said Cony head coach Don Plourde. “I haven’t given myself an opportunity yet to reflect and see the big picture of all the things we did, but it was definitely a great year, and I’m really proud of our kids.”

Senior Kam Douin, the 2022 KVAC Class B Player of the Year, was elite again this spring as he went 6-1 with a 0.61 ERA. Landon Foster also had a solid season on the mound for the Rams, who were aided by Matt Boston, Davis Kibler and Trent Hayward at the plate.


“Kam is just a generational player, and I don’t think it will really hit us until next spring what we lost in him,” Plourde said. “He’s the true definition of the ace, and when you put him on the mound, you like your chances to win. He’s a real losing-streak breaker, not that we had many.”

Cony pitcher Kam Douin throws to a Hermon hitter during a Class B North quarterfinal game at Morton Field in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Just as Cony lived up to lofty preseason expectations, so did Lawrence, which brought back a big chunk of a roster that went 14-5 a year ago. The Bulldogs went 13-5, pushing eventual state champion Old Town in the B North semifinals before the Coyotes clawed back for a walk-off victory.

Skowhegan — led by the four-man pitching staff of Jackson Quinn, Noah McMahon, Silas Tibbetts and Brayden Bellerose and the bat of Tyler Annis (.440 average) — went 11-6 in Class A North. Also finishing 11-6 in A North was Messalonskee, powered by All-KVAC Class A first-teamer Jack Hammond.

Richmond (12-5) had a big year in Class D South with seven players hitting above the .400 mark. The Bobcats averaged a whopping 12 runs per game. Valley and Forest Hills also had winning seasons in D South at 8-6 and 10-5, respectively.

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