Monmouth baseball players celebrate near the pitcher’s mound after the Mustangs won the Class C baseball championship on June 20, 2023 at the University of Southern Maine in Gorham. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Most athletes dream of winning a single state championship. What Monmouth Academy has done in the span of a year, then, is nothing short of awe-inducing.

It began last June as the Mustangs won the Class C state baseball championship, the first in program history. That core group of Monmouth players then followed it with a Class D soccer championship in the fall and the Class C boys basketball title just last month.

“I think it really hit me after basketball,” said senior Kyle Palleschi. “I just think back to that game and how many people were there, and then you go to school and walk past all three trophies every day. It makes you think, ‘Wow, we really did that.’ It’s kind of crazy, but we’ve got one more to go.”

Yes, Monmouth is now back in the place it all began with a state title on the diamond a year ago. There’s some pieces to be replaced, but with the pitching staff and a key portion of the lineup back, the Mustangs have the tools to add even more hardware to the trophy case in 2024.

Monmouth (19-1) had a remarkable path to the title. The Mustangs beat defending C South champ Lisbon in the regional quarterfinals, Oak Hill (which handed them their only loss earlier in the season) in the semis, unbeaten Sacopee Valley in the regional final and defending state champion Bucksport in the state final.

They did it largely through a dominant pitching staff that allowed just two runs across all four games. The Mustangs’ No. 1 (Sammy Calder) and No. 2 (Kyle Palleschi) pitchers, both of whom return this season, had 0.69 ERAs with the former pitching shutouts in the regional and state championship games.


“Having those two guys at the top of the rotation is going to be really helpful,” said Monmouth head coach Eric Palleschi. “We still have some young guys who have to step up and fill some big roles, but it’s definitely nice to have two guys like Kyle and Sammy. That gives you a huge boost.”

Monmouth’s Kyle Palleschi pitches against Mt. Abram during a baseball game last season in Monmouth. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Palleschi (.450 average) and Calder (.400) were also among Monmouth’s three leading hitters last year, along with Lucas Harmon (.419). Brandon Smith (.303) is the other returnee to the lineup for a Mustangs team that must replace Matt Marquis (.347), Isaac Oliveira (.318) and Manny Calder (.289), among others.

Monmouth will have some major challengers to its bid to repeat as regional champion. Although Oak Hill won’t be a threat to the Mustangs come playoff time this year, Sacopee Valley returns arguably the best baseball player in the state in Caleb Vacchiano after last year’s impressive 18-1 campaign.

Then, there’s a Mt. Abram team that Eric Palleschi believes is the favorite in the region. After going 13-5 last season, the Roadrunners return their three leading hitters in Payton Mitchell, Ash Rollins and Bryce Wilcox. Mitchell, Wilcox and Logan Dube also give Mt. Abram a good mix of options on the mound.

“They’re very similar to us; they won (the Class C state title) in soccer, and in basketball, they were right there,” Palleschi said. “They’re returning three experienced stars and a bunch of kids that know how to win. It’s a very talented group, and I’d say they’re kind of the team everybody is looking at.”

Winthrop, which went 10-7 last year, has lost some key production at the plate but does return a pair of key pitchers in brothers Carter Collin (2.14 ERA) and Trent Collin (1.76). Hall-Dale (6-10), Madison (4-11), Carrabec (3-12) and Maranacook (4-12) will all look to improve on losing campaigns a year ago.


Mount View, the No. 1 team in Class C North, went 7-10 a year ago after reaching the regional title game in 2022. It was, head coach Brandon Hurd admitted, a bit of a disappointing season, and with Husson commit Noah Hurd leading the way, the Mustangs are aiming to bounce back in 2024.

“We’re coming off a year where I don’t think we played our best, so I think there’s a little extra motivation,” Brandon Hurd said. “The kids are really zoning in, and the attention to detail has really been there. We have 24 kids all working hard right now, and a lot of them have been here before and have that experience.”

Elsewhere in Class C North, Maine Central Institute (5-11 last year) will look to retool after losing pitchers Braeden Kennedy and Connor Marquis from a staff that had a 2.63 team ERA. Region-wide, Hurd sees Foxcroft as the favorite after dropping down from Class B, though two-time defending champ Bucksport will also challenge.

Skowhegan’s Brayden Bellerose throws to a Mt. Blue hitter during a baseball game last season in Farmington. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

In Class A North, Skowhegan, fresh off an 11-6 season, is set for an interesting 2024 campaign. The River Hawks will split this year’s games between Madison Area Memorial High School and Colby College after Memorial Field was torn down to make room for a new elementary school.

Skowhegan loses starting pitcher Jackson Quinn but brings back the other three members of its rotation, Brayden Bellerose, Noah McMahon and Silas Tibbetts. With Brenden Dunlap (.362 average), McMahon and Chance Tibbetts at the plate, the River Hawks could very well have another winning season.

“We have an expectation every year of going out, playing quality baseball and making it into the playoffs, and I believe we should have a pretty good chance of that,” said head coach Mike LeBlanc. “We’re losing (Quinn), our starting shortstop (Tyler Annis) and a couple outfielders, but we should bounce back.”


Messalonskee, which went 12-6 last year, returns three of its top-four hitters in Denny Martin, All-Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference second-teamer Garrett Card and Ty Bernier. Mt. Blue (6-10) returns Nolan Leso (.309 average) but most replace two standout players in Hayden Dippner and Brody Walsh. 

In Class B North, Cony put together a fine season a year ago as it went 16-2 and claimed the No. 1 seed in the region. Allowing just 2.2 runs per game, the Rams won 12 straight from May 5-June 7 before suffering an upset loss to Ellsworth in the Northern Maine semifinals.

Although Cony has lost a top pitcher in Kam Douin, the rest of the roster is largely intact. Jordan Benedict, Matt Boston, Trent Hayward and Parker Morin, each of whom hit over .300 last year, return. Benedict and Foster also excelled for the Rams on the mound last season.

“We lost a couple of key starters, but we have a bunch of guys returning that are a year older and a year wise and stronger,” said Cony head coach Don Plourde. “I think those guys totally feel like they can build on the year we had last year, and we also have some younger players who might be able to contribute.”

Waterville, which returns pitchers Wyatt Gradie and Ben Foster from last year’s 9-8 team, should also be competitive in B North. Lawrence (13-5 last year) must replace a key part of its lineup and also has a new head coach, Corey Pelletier. Nokomis and Winslow will look to improve on 7-9 and 0-16 seasons, respectively.

After two years in Class C, Oak Hill is back in Class B South this season. Chad Stowell’s Raiders are coming off a strong campaign in which they went 14-4, had the Mountain Valley Conference Player of the Year in Kyle Delano and, of course, handed Monmouth its only loss of the season.


Although Delano and Ethan Vattaso are gone, Oak Hill does return Trent Drouin, an All-MVC first-teamer at shortstop. He’ll also take on pitching duties this year for the Raiders, who also return All-MVC second-teamer Landen Denis at pitcher and right field and Cooper Spencer in center.

“We’ve been blessed to not be able to pitch Trent some because we had guys like Kyle and Ethan, but this year, he’s going to take on a bit more of a role as a pitcher,” Stowell said. “The five seniors we have returning are all guys who are really experienced and can navigate us through the start of the season.”

Elsewhere in Class B South, Erskine Academy, which went 9-8 last year, has lost one of the KVAC’s top players in Grady Hotham but does return Hunter Foard and Tristan Anderson on the mound. Gardiner will look build on last year’s five-win season, which was an improvement over a two-win 2022.

In Class D South, Richmond returns all but two players from a team that went 12-5 and averaged 12 runs per game. Kenny Mecham (.519 average, 28 hits, 26 RBIs), Hunter Mason (.508, 31 hits, 27 RBIs) and Zander Steele (.509, 29 hits, 22 RBIs) lead a powerful offense for the Bobcats.

Coming off an 8-6 campaign last year, Valley could also see some improvement with the bulk of the roster back in 2024. Forest Hills returns its leading hitters in Braidan Welch (.403 average) and Landry Allen (.379) and will look to challenge in D South after a 10-5 season.

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