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    Sunday, April 21, 2024

    H.S. baseball / 2024 preview capsules

    Fitch’s Trace Morales throws a pitch during a game last season. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    New London shortstop Eddie Torres (6) tags out Waterford’s Matthew Reilly (14) at second base during a game at Waterford High School last season. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Wheeler shortstop Kyle Kessler makes a throw to first base during a game against Putnam last season in North Stonington. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Montville’s Cole Terni throws a pitch during a game at Griswold High School last season. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Following are the 2024 high school baseball preview capsules:

    ECC

    Division I

    East Lyme

    Coach: Jack Biggs (19th year)

    Key returnees: Sr. P Alex Salerno; Sr. OF Liam Cochrane; Sr. P/IF Alex Dreyfus; Sr. C AJ Montejano; Sr. P/OF Connor Tukey.

    Top newcomers: Sr. IF Max Van Dusen; Jr. OF Tanner O’Brien; Jr. IF Noah Farrior; Jr. P/IF Dylan Joyce; Jr. P Liam Joyce; Jr. IF/OF Ryan Wargo; Jr. P Jack Hayes; Soph. P/IF Garrison Biggs; Soph. P/IF Aidan Cochrane.

    Outlook: The Vikings graduated 10 seniors, including Day Player of the Year and Class L all-stater Gavin O’Brien as well as all-state outfielder John Bureau. The good news? Dreyfus returns as perhaps the league’s best pitcher. If East Lyme develops the pitching depth Biggs wants — Dylan Joyce and Liam Joyce made encouraging offseason progress — this is a team that will contend for titles in the ECC and beyond.

    Fitch

    Coach: Dave Hall (2nd year)

    Key returnees: Sr. SS/P Donte Valentine; Sr. P/IF Trace Morales; Jr. P/PF Griffin Pollard; Jr. C Tommy Rogers; Sr. C Nate Wagner; Jr. P/OF Dom Zuliani; Sr. P/OF Vinny Morabito.

    Top newcomers: Sr. IF Pat Lindy; Jr. OF Calvin Sebastian; Soph. IF Mark McBride; Soph. P Will Haugeto; Soph. IF/C Cole Young; Fr. IF Nick Logan.

    Outlook: Fitch has two of the most experienced players in the ECC: three-year starters Morales and Valentine. “We also have a good, young core group of newcomers,” Hall said. “With a solid pitching staff and deep lineup, we look to compete for an ECC Division I championship and make a solid run in the state tournament.”

    NFA

    Coach: Mike Jamieson (1st year)

    Key returnees: Sr. P/IF Ayden Kempesta; Sr. P Dan St. George; Sr. OF Chris Southworth; Sr. C Connor Doyle; Sr. IF David Reischerl; Jr. C/IF Conner Caulfield; Jr. P/OF Avery Guernsey; Jr. P/INF Jonas Tiburcio; Jr. P/OF Logan Deshefy; Jr. P/IF Joel Tiburcio; Soph. OF Ryan Cleary.

    Top newcomers: Sr. P/UTIL Randy Jimenez; Jr. OF Maximo Sanchez; Sr. P/UTIL Jeremy Garcia; Jr. IF Derek Macy; Jr. P/IF Jack Pichette; Jr. P Brayden Canny; Jr. UTIL John Gillis; Soph. P/INF Brenden Doyle; Soph. C Michael Watts; Fr. P/IF Jacob Holmberg.

    Outlook: Jamieson’s first season comes with “depth both on the mound and throughout the program,” as the Wildcats “are looking to be competitive in the division this season. “I love the leadership of the upperclassmen and the intensity in practice,” he said. “Our focus is on getting better every day and being a great teammate. How well we deal with distractions and adversity will determine our success this season.”

    Waterford

    Coach: Art Peluso (14th year)

    Key returnees: Sr. IF/P Roberto Kiefer; Sr. OF Quinn Speller; Sr. IF Harley Mish; Sr. IF Zach Ruest; Jr. C Max Petrini; Jr. P Matt Shampine; Jr. P Dylan Matis.

    Top newcomers: Sr. C Chase Linski; Sr. OF Peter Stchur; Sr. P Caleb Turner; Jr. IF/P Nick Ingraham; Jr. IF Lucas Saunders; Soph. IF Alex Picardi; Soph. P/OF Colby Sheehan.

    Outlook: Expectations are always high in Waterford. Shampine is one of the ECC’s best and Speller is among the league’s best athletes, having completed successful football and basketball seasons. “We are excited about the potential this season holds,” said Peluso, a two-time state champion. “How we react to the ups and downs of the season will influence our overall success. We will rely on senior leadership to help the program meet its goal.”

    Note: ECC Division I also features Woodstock Academy

    Division II

    Ledyard

    Coach: George Rivera (3rd year)

    Key returnees: Sr. SS/P Ethan Petrowski; Jr. IF/OF Cam Weber; Jr. OF/P Joey Morales; Jr. 1B Owen Williams; Jr. OF/1B Tyler Spinner; Soph. IF/OF Jack Leaf; Soph. P/OF Calvin Casavant; Soph. IF Trent Burk; Soph. P Bennett Arnold.

    Top newcomers: Fr. C/3B Ayden Quilter; Fr. 1B/C Ashton Wuestner; Fr. P/C/INF Jeffery Duerr.

    Outlook: Normally, it goes “young and inexperienced.” The Colonels are more likely “young and experienced.” They lost one senior to graduation and return plenty of varsity experience. “Pitching and defense will determine how far this team can go,” Rivera said.

    New London

    Coach: Matt Greene (4th year)

    Key returnees: Sr. OF Darius Aquino; Sr. 1B Henry Santana-Liriano; Sr. OF/P Jorge Rodriguez; Jr. SS/P/C Eddie Torres; Jr. 1B/DH Cordell Shannon; Soph. 2B/OF/P Jacoby LaFleur.

    Top newcomers: Sr. OF Masyn Smith; Sr. OF Justin Guzman; Jr. C Rafael Tavares; So. MIF/P/C Lou Anaya; Soph. 3B/OF Javi Gonzalez; Soph. OF Jordan Manning; Fr. UTL/C Joey Dougherty; Fr. 3B/P Juan Santiago Droz; Fr. P/OF J.R. Rimondi

    Outlook: New London must replace two-time all-stater Derrel Mitchell and All-ECC outfielder Isaiah Plaza. Greene is excited about Torres, calling him “one of the area’s top players.” Anaya (Ledyard) and Tavares (Pittsfield, Mass.) are transfers who will help. “We’re excited about the talented youth mixed with our veteran core,” Greene said.

    St. Bernard

    Coach: Grant Livingston (4th year)

    Key returnees: Sr. P/OF Martin Light; Sr. INF Colin O’Leary; Sr. INF Bryce Morrissette; Sr. INF Chris Tonucci; Soph. P Desmond Powers; Soph. UTL Bryan Lowe.

    Top newcomers: Soph. UTL Johnny Lazarou; Sr. C Matt Pero; Sr. OF Jonah Eddy; Sr. OF Kevin Poeschl; Jr. P Anthony DeMarco; Fr. P Connor Gallagher.

    Outlook: Last season’s 20-5 team has moved the Saints into ECC Division II with Killingly, Ledyard and New London. The Saints return six starters. “We are looking forward to moving up two divisions and also playing a very challenging nonconference schedule,” said Livingston, alluding to Greenwich and Joel Barlow, among others.

    Note: ECC Division II also features Killingly.

    Division III

    Bacon Academy

    Coach: Jerry Mitchell (2nd season)

    Key returnees: Sr. P/SS Chris Lusignan; Jr. P/3B Mason Pingree; Jr. C Eli Chiaverini; Sr. OF Andrew Ferrigno; Jr. 1B AJ O’Neill.

    Top newcomers: Soph. 3B/P Ethan Creutz; Fr. SS Rob Corraro; Fr. OF Matt Galante; Soph. P Kagan Ruszala.

    Outlook: Mitchell went 11-9 in his first season as varsity coach. The Bobcats lost some offense with the graduation of Steve Laliberte, among others. Mitchell said, “Fairly young team, an enthusiastic group of players. Looking for improvement over last year.”

    Griswold

    Coach: Tim Lake (1st season)

    Key returnees: Sr. P/IF Sean Garvin; Sr. P/1B Colin Mitchell; Sr. P/IF/OF Kade Rubino; Jr. C/P/IF Andrew Hardin; Jr. P/OF Sam Gilgenbach; Jr. IF Jake Duthrie; Jr. P/OF Calvin Oddo; Jr. C/IF Kaden Deskus.

    Top newcomers: Sr. P/IF/OF Jacob Hamel; Sr. P/IF Ryan Tate; Fr. P/IF Kymani Boyce; Fr. P/IF Sonny Botello; Fr. P/C/IF Maxwell Gray; Fr. P/IF Lennox Lindo.

    Outlook: Lake takes over as head coach after two years as an assistant. “We are looking to build off of last year with our core returning players and with the addition of some talented newcomers,” he said. “We also have a JV team this year with some really good players that haven't tapped into their full potential. Our goal is to play in the postseason in ECC/states and we are excited for the opportunity to compete.”

    Montville

    Coach: Scott Chiasson (2nd season)

    Key returnees: Sr. 1B/P Cole Terni; Jr. C Ryley Beyer; Soph. 1B/LF Jack Treat; Jr. IF Aidan Johnson; Soph. P Andrew McElwee; Soph. OF Eric Richmond; Soph. OF Hunter Sylvia.

    Top newcomers: Fr. IF Cam Payne.

    Outlook: The best thing about freshmen, the old line goes, is that they become sophomores. Chiasson should know, having started as many as eight freshmen last season. Now they’re far more experienced. The Wolves bring back their entire pitching staff and eight other starters, led by Terni and Treat. “The young arms need to mature quickly,” Chiasson said.

    Stonington

    Coach: Bob Cahoone (9th season)

    Key returnees: Sr. P/OF Dylan Cimini; Sr. SS Aaron LoPresto; Jr. 1B Nick Cannella; Jr. P Jace Wolfradt.

    Top newcomers: Soph. IF Michael Keefe.

    Outlook: Cahoone was succinct in his beliefs and expectations for the Bears in 2024: “My players have been working hard in the offseason,” Cahoone said. “If we can block the outside noise and stay together as a team, we have the potential to have a very successful season this year.”

    Note: ECC Division III also features Plainfield.

    Division IV

    Lyman Memorial

    Coach: Marty Gomez (38th year)

    Key returnees: Sr. OF Jeremiah Bobbi; Sr. P/1B Alex Ortiz; Sr. P/1B Dominic Pontbriant; Sr. C Jared Russo; Sr. OF Hunter Sanchez; Sr. SS/2B/P Aiden Zimnoch; Jr. SS/2B/P Nick Chalifoux; Jr. P/OF Owen Masse.

    Top newcomers: Jr. 2B/OF Isaac Cone; Jr. 1B James Hiltz; Jr. OF Mitchell Glaude; Jr. P/OF Alex Zimnoch; Soph. C/3B/P Niko Chaviaras; Soph. 3B/P Connor Hawkins; Soph. 3B Alex Svedarsky.

    Outlook: There’s good pitching here with Pontbriant, Ortiz, Aiden Zimnoch, Masse and Chalifoux. Russo and Bobbi are experienced players. Gomez said 4-5 JV players will have varsity roles, but that the Bulldogs “should be competitive within the division and the crossover games.”

    Wheeler

    Coach: Eric Collins (8th year)

    Key returnees: Sr. SS Kyle Kessler, Sr. 1B/P Sean Bergel; Sr. 3B/P Bradin Anderson; Sr. OF Wyatt Elliot; Sr. OF Jon Anderson; Jr. C Mason Perkins; Jr. P/OF James Main; Jr. 2B/P Garrett Lenihan 11; Soph. OF James Noyes.

    Top newcomers: Jr. IF/OF/C Noah Klewin.

    Outlook: Collins said his goals are to make the playoffs and compete for a division title. “We are looking to improve on last year’s record,” Collins said. “I would also like to believe with our pitching staff we could make a deep run in the playoffs.”

    Note: ECC Division IV also features Putnam, Tourtellotte and Windham.

    Others

    Grasso Tech

    Coach: Jon Grossman (4th season)

    Key returnees: Jr. P/IF PJ Evans; Jr. P/IF Gabe Grossman; Jr. P/SS Daniel Lindy; Jr. P/CF Reis Whitfield; Jr. IF Yancarlos de la Cruz.

    Top newcomers: Jr. 1B Nick Capazzi; Jr. OF Jarrod Franceschi; Jr. IF/OF Carmine Rodriguez; Soph. P/OF Ryan Gemaly; Soph. P/OF Raymer Guzman; Jr. P/OF Mason Hatchett; Jr. 1B Kyle Hazel; Soph. C Jace Oddo; Soph. P/IF Jerry Santiago.

    Outlook: The Eagles lost eight seniors, leaving Grossman to say, “Grasso Tech baseball is going through a rebuilding year and with rebuilding comes hard work.” Gabe Grossman leads the rotation with Evans, Whitfield, Lindy Raymer Guzman, Hatchett and Gemaly.

    Old Lyme

    Coach: Phil Cohen (3rd season)

    Key returnees: Sr. P/SS Grady Lacourciere; Sr. P/CF Owen Snurkowski; Sr. P/UTIL Jack Porter; Sr. P/RF Jordan Hanes; Jr. 2B/P Ben Frazier; Soph. 3B Rowen Meisner; Soph. OF/P Jackson Pannier.

    Top newcomers: Jr. P/IF/UTIL Giovanni Winters; Fr. C Callahan Lacourciere; Soph. C Carter McGlinchey; Sr. 1B/OF/P Griffin McGlinchey.

    Outlook: Seven varsity players return from last season’s team that made the Class S quarterfinals. “Our primary focus remains on returning to both the Shoreline and Class S state tournaments,” Cohen said. “With key arms returning and some promising newcomers, we are hopeful to get over the hump this year and make a deep push in both tournaments.”

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