Cabral was nearly unhittable on the mound in 2021, allowing just five runs on 32 hits in 64 2/3 innings of work. He went 8-0 and also notched an impressive 106 strikeouts on the year, earning him Item Player of the Year and CCL Pitcher of the Year honors in the process.
Cabral also did it with the bat, knocking in eight RBI over the course of the year and holding down the No. 3 spot in the order. His all-around play helped the Spartans win the Division 2 state championship in July — the team's second straight state title after winning it in 2019 as well.
"I don't know how you can have a better junior season than Aiven did last year," said Dana. "He's a great kid, a humble guy and just the absolute hardest worker on this team. He might not be the most vocal guy in the locker room, but he leads by example and he puts more work in than anybody."
Cabral's strong season caught the eye of a number of Div. I and Div. II college programs, and the now-senior took a number of trips to schools this summer to explore his options. But in the end, the decision to stick with Northeastern — which had been pursuing him since before the start of his sophomore year — was what felt right to him.
"Northeastern showed interest before his sophomore year (in 2020), and we were talking just as the season was getting canceled," said Dana. "Obviously it was tough getting looks at him that year until he started playing a bit in the summer, and then he came into his junior year and really proved himself."
Dana has enjoyed watching Cabral's progression during his time at St. Mary's, as the Lynn native has grown from a kid smashing home runs in the Little League Home Run Derby at Reinfuss Field a few years ago into the go-to guy on a two-time state championship team.
"He came in as a freshman and instantly was the No. 2 pitcher on a state championship team, and he just kept improving from there," said Dana. "It's been a privilege to coach him and watch him grow into a great player, and I'm excited to see where he goes from here."
Now, with his looming collegiate decision no longer hanging over him, Cabral — who is currently 14-0 on the mound in his high-school career — can attack his senior year at St. Mary's with a clear head. And Dana is expecting even more great things from the powerful righty this coming spring.
"At this point, he's a Div. I college commit and he wants to prove that he's worth it," said Dana. "He's already working to prepare for the spring, and he's aiming to have another season like he did last year. He still hasn't lost a game on the mound in his high-school career, and I have little doubt he's going to come out in April and lead the way for us again."