Seven players, three from Maine, have signed National Letters of Intent to play baseball at the University of Maine beginning next fall.
Catcher Connor Caverly and shortstop Quinn McDaniel are teammates at Marshwood High School in South Berwick and right-handed pitcher Noah Lewis is from South Portland.
They are joined in the recruiting class by shortstop Jayson Gonzalez from Rahway, New Jersey, third baseman Jake Marquez of Miami, outfielder Colin Plante of Stoughton, Massachusetts, and left-handed pitcher Tyler Nielsen of Grafton, Massachusetts.
All will be scholarship players.
“This is an extremely athletic group of players. It’s a very strong class. All of them will have a chance to make an immediate impact next year,” UMaine head coach Nick Derba said.
Derba said landing in-state players is a priority.
“We can’t survive without getting the best Maine players to come to Maine,” he said.
Derba said UMaine will go wherever it has to go in the U.S. and Canada to land the best players available.
Caverly, a quarterback-defensive end and captain of the Class B South champion Marshwood football team — which plays Brunswick on Saturday in Portland for the state title — is a good defensive catcher and an intense competitor.
The all-conference catcher is a two-time National High School Baseball Association Preseason All-American.
“He is a potential draft pick,” Derba said.
Derba said McDaniel is an exceptional defensive shortstop who is versatile and can play multiple positions.
“He can pick ’em,” Derba said.
“He is a high-motor player. He can steal some bags and he doesn’t swing and miss much. He reminds me of [former Black Bear] Mike Fransoso.”
Lewis was a first-team, all-state pitcher at South Portland last spring when he was 6-0 with an 0.28 earned run average. He had 51 strikeouts and just five walks.
“He has a good sinker and breaking ball. He gets a lot of ground-ball outs. He throws strikes and creates contact,” Derba said.
Nielsen was ranked the No. 6 pitcher in Massachusetts by the Perfect Game scouting service. He originally committed to Rutgers, but the program had a coaching change.
“He moves the ball around, he has a good breaking ball and change-up and he knows how to pitch and how to compete,” Derba said.
Marquez is the fifth player from Christopher Columbus High School to attend UMaine, joining Nick Silva, Danny Casals and current Black Bears Hernen Sardinas and Carlos Linares.
“He could be the best defensive third baseman around, even as a freshman,” Derba said. “He can also can hit and has some good juice [power].”
Derba said Gonzalez is another top-notch defender.
“He can play defense right away [at the Division I level]. He covers a lot of ground. He’s a very good baseball player,” Derba said.
Plante should supply the Black Bears with some speed in the outfield and on the basepaths. He hit over .400 in his last two seasons at Thayer Academy in Massachusetts.
“He’s a [potential] top-of-the-lineup guy,” Derba said. “He’s the type of player who will run through a wall for you.”