Thornton Academy Will Be Much Faster Team In 2021

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR New England Senior Writer

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Thornton Academy Will Be Much Faster Team In 2021

SACO, Maine - A league championship in 2019 was the first at Thornton Academy in 25 years. Two years later, head coach Jason Lariviere is as excited about the program as ever.

“The culture is changing,” explained the fourth-year head coach, who led the Golden Trojans to a SMAA title and a 19-2 regular-season record in 2019 before a second-round loss in the postseason. “We were senior-heavy in 2019 and last year we would have been young. This year we’re not heavy in the senior class either.

“There are some good pitchers out there, including on our team, we’ll just have to see who can manufacture runs.”

That is something Lariviere believes can be done this season at Thornton Academy.

“We’ll be a much faster team this year,” Lariviere noted. “This is the first time for me to have a quick team from top to bottom that can play some small ball.”

Cody Bowker is the “standout player” on the team according to the head coach after starting as a freshman. The junior captain, ranked sixth among 2022 outfielders in New England, is a Georgetown commit and the ace of the staff.

“He has a cutter, curve, changeup and fastball and he’s added size,” Lariviere said of the 6-1 180-pounder who will pitch, play outfield and bat in the meat of the order this season.

Brady Graffam is another key player on this year’s squad.

“He’ll be one of the best players in the state,” noted Lariviere of the uncommitted junior. “He can play anywhere, shortstop, third base, first base, catch and outfield and can also pitch. I’m not sure how we’re going to use him yet.”

Sophomore Joshua Kopetski will probably be the number two pitcher according to Lariviere.

“He has three pitches and has gotten taller,” the head coach said of the 6-1 southpaw, ranked seventh among 2023 left-handed pitchers in New England. “I think he’ll make a huge impact on the pitching staff.”

Juniors John Rohner and Jack Cote are also expected to help on the mound, with Rohner also playing in the infield and batting at or near the top of the order. Cote will also play infield and make an influence on the base paths.

Adding to the speed on this year’s team is outfielder Michael McLeer, who “has a chance to be the leadoff guy” according to Lariviere.

Likely the lone senior that will be a major contributor in the eyes of Lariviere is outfielder Cody LeSieur.

Sophomore Brayden Williams brings versatility with the ability to play first, short and third.

“It’s a common theme on the team that he can play a lot of positions,” pointed out Lariviere about the eighth-rated 2023 third baseman in New England.

Another sophomore, Henry Lausier, adds more promise among underclassmen as a catcher and outfielder.

“The question is how are the young kids going to carry themselves,” explained Lariviere. “That will be the key to the season. We only have one kid with varsity experience, Cody Bowker, and Brady Graffam was a swing guy playing some varsity.”

Freshman Jeremiah Chessie is another to keep an eye on as a middle infielder.

“I feel we will be really good defensively and we have a lot of depth pitching,” Lariviere said. “We’ll be catching a sophomore so we will need to make sure we can hold runners on.

“The biggest concern is can we put the bat on the ball and put pressure on the defense and be able to steal bases with our quickness. This is going to be different from year’s past. We were a base-to-base team before, but this year we have team speed and can put pressure on the defense. The question is can our young guys have a good approach at the plate.”

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