Expectations Soaring for Local High School Baseball Teams As Season Nears
Thanks to the onset of an early spring in these parts, the seasons for baseball, softball, lacrosse, ourdoor track and tennis will get started pretty much on time.
And so, without further ado, it’s time to get to previews. Sit back, grab a coffee and a sandwich: there’s a lot to unpack here, lots to sink your teeth into.
Leominster (16-7 in 2018) came oh so close to winning a Central Mass. title for the second time in Rich Barnaby’s tenure as the Blue Devil skipper, and here’s a spoiler alert: he has the tools to make another run.
2018 graduated seniors: James Powers, LT Pare, Rocco Pandiscio, Jack Young Mason Nicoloff, Matt Dupuis, Cam Kelly, Lucien DePasquale
2019 key returning players: Pat Gallagher, Dylan Sousa, Danny Garcia, Alex Perez, Zach Delgiudice, Sean Doyle, Ryan McCarthy
2019 notable newcomers: Evan McCarthy, Tyler Smith
Leominster, of course, plays one of the toughest schedules out there, and with a good mix of veteran leadership and young talent on the way up, the Blue Devils should be in the mix. UConn-bound Pat Gallagher, of course, will be the ace for Barnaby’s staff; Sousa is back from an injury which sidelined him last year; and Garcia has a cannon in the outfield.
LHS should be in good shape in 2019.
Fitchburg (14-5) is coming off its best season in recent memory, but will Ray Cosenza’s side have the pitching to do it again? Magic 8 Ball answer: Yes.
2018 graduated seniors: Sage Bray, Nick Falconer, Anthony Cuevas
2019 key returning players: Jamison Carroll (captain), Anthony Silverio (captain), Tai Le, Jorge Gaiton, Will Vargo, Zach Scott
2019 notable newcomers: Brandon Dubuque
Carroll was an important cog in the Red Raider pitching staff last year, pitched well for the North County Legion program last summer, and returns to be the ace of the staff. And yes, they will have the pitching: Edwin Santana, Scott, Mike Cooper, Gabe Johnson, and Vargo, to go with Carroll.
Silverio is quite possibly one of the best shortstops in the area, whose bat is just as good as his glove; FHS will depend on him to be steady in the infield. Le is a good servant, and Vargo has first base locked down and can contribute offensively with key hits.
Cosenza loves this group, a bunch of hard workers.
St. Bernard’s (9-11) just missed out on the postseason a year ago, but the Blue and Gold look to make a triumphant return with a young squad this spring.
2018 graduated seniors: Matthew Aronson, Campbell Harrington, Charles Morris, Timothy Forkey and Christopher Sullivan
2019 key returning: Maxwell Bigelow, Jack Mammone and Keegan Sharp (all seniors); David Gardiner and Aidan Linnane (both juniors); Wyatt Bingham, Anthony DiNardo, Andrew Gardiner and Jonathan Pinard (all sophomores)
2019 notable newcomers: Domenic Cuevas and Aidan Ouellette (juniors); Aidan Donahue (freshman); Patrick Ginnity and Christopher Pompei (eighth graders)
Head coach Jim Beauregard has some solid athletes on this side, with Sharp crafty on the mound. Having Cuevas join the team should be a boon, given his athleticism; I can see him stealing some bases. And Max Bigelow, the last of the Bigelow boys. ... he’ll give everything he has, every inning.
We’re also hearing good things about the young trio of Donahue, Ginnity, and Pompei. The junior class has to step up, and the sophomore returners have a year of being on varsity under their belts.
Nashoba Regional (15-7) is always one of the top programs in the area under the leadership of Chuck Schoolcraft. The Chieftains got all the way to the sectional semifinals, where they lost to eventual champ St. Peter-Marian.
2018 graduated seniors: Cam Roberts, Ryan Collorassi, Kyle Hume, Luke Ashline, Matt Morrison, Brett Giordano, Thomas Bianco, Zacch Sousa, Reid Young
2019 key returners: Ryan Donovan, Sam Bolinsky, Reed Parson, Cooper Caviness, Alex Rhorberg, Joel Culkins
2019 notable newcomers: Ryan Kolakowski, Andrew Ahlquist, Will Danby, Remy Barney, Brody Senior
Now, Nashoba has had some pretty darn good pitchers over the last decade-plus: us local sportswriters know that if you want to see a brilliantly pitched game of baseball, you get thyself to Route 117 frequently.
But Schoolcraft feels that this year’s staff is quite possibly the best he’s had in 18 years.
Expect Nashoba to be fast and, as per usual, in contention for pretty much everything. Could this be the year? Stay tuned.
North Middlesex Regional (12-9) was in a dogfight with Fitchburg for the Mid-Wach C crown a year ago, and this year returns a great deal of that team to the re-figured campus on Route 119.
2018 graduated seniors: Brenden Sullivan, Nick White, Tim Mahoney.
2019 key returners: Pat Aubuchon (senior captain), Josh Borneman (senior), Seth Farley (senior), Joe Murphy (senior), Jacob Morse (junior), Dan Abbott (junior), Tyler Mahoney (junior), Zach Reeves (junior), Justin Marr (sophomore), Sean Hayward (sophomore).
2019 notable newcomers: Jon Suero (junior), Zach Engler (junior)
The Patriots should definitely be OK, as they have pitching outside of Aubuchon, one of the better pitchers around alongside Gallagher. Farley, who had a broken wrist last year, will be back and throwing.
Head coach Tom Bartleson also has some younger arms in Morse, Abbott, and Marr who’ll take the ball, too.
Over at Lunenburg (13-7), the Blue Knights were Division 4 semifinalists a year ago on the backs -- well, arms and shoulders -- of three senior pitchers.
2018 graduated seniors: Jacob Barnes (OF), Troy Howe (P, 2B), Connor Palma (P, 1B), Adam Peplowski (OF), Drew Thibeault (P, SS)
2019 key returning players: Chris Costich (C), Collin Garrity (CF), Alan Hyatt (P), Cooper Mathews (3B), Braeden Nash (OF), Nick Oullette (SS), Mathew Thurston (OF)
Longtime Knights skip Bob Robuccio is expecting big things out of Hyatt, Josh Proctor, and Nick Ouellette this season. But Lunenburg is also looking at a lack of experience at key spots in the field. Costich, though, can handle a staff, and Mathews is as good as anyone in this area at the hot corner.
Lunenburg, as we always say, is scrappy in this sport.
Speaking of a scrappy baseball team, Oakmont Regional (7-13) was scrappy last year, just as the Spartans always are. But in Tim Caouette’s fifth season at the helm, the Green and White are looking to make the leap.
2018 graduated seniors: Michael Forbes, Tim O’Connor, Adam Sowders, Tyler Gauthier
2019 key returning players: Ryan Caisse (2B), Jack Batten (P, 1B), Ryan Mack (1B, 3B), Primo Dellasanta (C, DH), Patrick Forbes (SS), Devlin Cormier (CF), Jake Packard (LF), Jacob Fowler (3B), Mitch Thomann (P)
2019 notable newcomers: Brad Blessington (RF), Brady Aubuchon (P), Nick Nano (P)
Caouette has depth in his team, which should provide stability throughout the season. He has the arms, but they are young and untested, and should be able to cut their teeth in Mid-Wach C. Between Batten and Thomann, that’s a quality 1-2 punch that may put MWC on alert.
Expect the speedy Caisse and Forbes to get on base early, with Batten, Mack and Dellasanta ready to drive in runs.
Gardner (2-18) is coming off one of its worst hardball seasons in recent memory, and new coach Dana English is looking to turn the Wildcats right around.
2018 graduated seniors: Shane Lindemuth, Zack Valliere, Vincent Richard
2019 key returners : Anthony Richard, Aidan Zelesky, Matthew Doherty, Brayden Richard, Reyhan Sapeg, Marcus Simpson, Marcus Bruno, Jacob Ramey, Jayden Hernandez, Tyler Higgins, Dominick Juliano, Riley Dubois
2019 notable newcomers: Killian Kavanaugh, Evan Bertrant, Kyle Samson, Luis Rivera, Miles Blader-Brissette, Bradley Thane, Antonio Brea, Zaxier Tejada, Chrissangel Rodriguez, Tommy Piermarini
English, a Leominster native who was on Ray Cosenza’s coaching staff at Fitchburg two years ago, is stressing fundamentals with the Black and Orange.
He also has plenty of arms -- upward of 11 -- to get through the rigors of a season.
At Monty Tech, second-year coach Kevin Anderson has committed his side to flip the script this year, after no playoffs on the city line last year.
2018 graduated seniors: Brady Bernard, Zach LeFleur, AJ Richard, Zach Houle, Alex Perry-Meuer
2019 key returners: Shea Fairbanks, DJ Giardino, Jacob Nano, Ben Rusch, Chris Lamb, Nick Lamb, Gabe Kusske, Jayson Pitts, Mateo Serrano, Tim Wade, Dominic Hall
2019 notable newcomers: Jake Kelley, Mike Carpenter, TJ Farr, Griffin Miller, Jake Ross
The Bulldogs have plenty returning, and Anderson’s hope to get the Purple and Gold to the postseason may be realized. With 11 returners who all cut their teeth in the Colonial last year, plus what’s coming into the program Monty Tech might be appointment viewing.