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2014 BASEBALL PREVIEW

Baseball is back in the Monadnock region

  • The ConVal baseball team lost to Sanborn 7-0 in the Division II preliminary round on Thursday, May 30, 2013.<br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Wilton-Lyndeborough baseball team defeated Mascenic with a come from behind 5-4 win on Monday, May 13, 2013<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Wilton-Lyndeborough baseball team defeated Portsmouth Christian Academy 4-2 on Monday, May 20, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant baseball team defeated Laconia 5-3 in the Division III semifinals on Wednesday, June 5, 2013. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Conant baseball team defeated Laconia 5-3 in the Division III semifinals on Wednesday, June 5, 2013. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The Wilton-Lyndeborough baseball team defeated Portsmouth Christian Academy 4-2 on Monday, May 20, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

The crack of the bat has already begun to ring out around the Monadnock region, as the high school baseball season kicked off last night. With Conant seeking to go back to back after a big title win last year and ConVal looking to ride their otherworldly starting pitcher Ivon Clough to the postseason, not to mention the young Mascenic team and a seasoned WLC squad, it should be a great season to watch.

Conant

Last season: 16-4 (won DIII state title)

Returning seniors: Jake Donahue, Kyle Carland

Head coach: Josh Heaphy (first season)

First game: April 14 at Fall Mountain

Last season, Conant enjoyed on of the best seasons in the baseball program’s history, winning the DIII state title for the first time in 57 years. Now, Conant must move on from that historic season and work on filling the void left by the nine seniors from the Orioles club who graduated last spring.

Devin Springfield, Devin Drouin, Johnny Ciarcia, Josh Leblanc, Jared Leblanc — the list of departed Orioles from last year’s title run goes on and on.

“The team knows they lost a lot of talent from last year,” said first-year head coach Josh Heaphy. “Nobody believes in Conant baseball right now.”

Heaphy has his work cut out for him, fielding a young squad that doesn’t lack confidence.

“This group plays like they believe they have a shot. This is a young team, but a fantastic one,” said Heaphy.

Senior Jake Donahue will be the Orioles starting first baseman, while fellow senior Kyle Carland will play second base and help out in other positions as needed.

“Carland is versatile — he can play a lot of positions,” said Heaphy.

Junior Ryan Aho will rotate with Carland and freshman JP Record at second base. Gritty sophomore Kyle Dupuis will start at shortstop and freshman Chance Kirby will start at the hot corner for the Orioles. Sophomore CJ Bilodeau will catch and provide the emotional spark, and junior Ryan Carey will be Conant’s starting pitcher.

When not on the mound, Carey will see time in center field. Freshman Shawn Marsh, sophomore Garrett Poole, Aho, and junior lefty Josh Warner will complete the Orioles rotation.

Playing outfield will be junior Alex Cota, Warner and Record.

“I’m looking for consistency. Being my first year coaching varsity, I want a fun year,” said Heaphy.

Mascenic

Last season: 7-11 (lost in first round to Pelham)

Returning seniors: Matt Cyr

Head coach: Kevin Rines

First game: Wednesday vs. Campbell

Last year, the Vikings’ season ended on a bitter note; the sting of their first-round playoff exit at the hands of Pelham via a walkoff hit is still being felt as they prepare for the new season. As a young team — the Vikings return only one senior starter — they’ll have a lot of questions to answer. Last year’s senior standout, Jalen Rines, who led the team on the mound and was their best hitter, is gone. Taking his place on the mound will be junior Shane Rautiola, who’ll also play short when he’s not pitching.

“He could have a very good season this year,” head coach Kevin Rines said.

As with all the other sports he plays, senior Matt Cyr will set the tone for Mascenic. The team’s fastest player “by far,” Cyr will lock down the leadoff spot and patrol center field.

“He’s one of the better outfielders in our division as far as going gap-to-gap,” Rines said.

With Mascenic’s multi-sport star, junior Jared Stauffeneker, sidelined at least through the beginning of May after an emergency appendectomy, it will be up to a cadre of youngsters to fill in the gaps in the Vikings’ lineup. Luckily for Mascenic, many of those underclassmen saw significant innings last season.

“The best thing about last year was that we had a lot of kids that saw time,” Rines said. “That’s under their belt, so they can move on from that and learn from that experience.”

Sophomore Roman Ojala will slide over to first this season; fellow soph Chase Holombo will man third and occasionally pitch. Another sophomore, Cooper Wayrenen, will fill a spot in the rotation and compete for one of the corner outfield positions.

A trio of freshman will be in the mix as well; the little freshman Daimon Gibson will take over catching duties in Stauffeneker’s stead, Scott Humphrey will have a turn in the rotation and Travis Rautiola will pitch and battle for an outfield spot.

“I expect them to step right in and get a lot of playing time as freshman,” Rines said. “Once they start coming into their own – they’re definitely a couple of good baseball players, but they’re young right now.”

Rounding out the team will be senior Cam Lampinen, who returns to the game after a few seasons off, Justin Somero, Michael Phillips, Alec Talbot and Jason Moreau.

Mascenic’s toughest stretch will be in late May, when they face back-to-back four-game weeks with a matchup against DIII favorite Campbell and the Cougars’ stars Christian Bourgea and Connor Sahlin. However, the Vikings’ backloaded schedule may work to their advantage; Stauffeneker should be back in action by mid-May if all goes according to plan, and the more unproven underclassmen will get plenty of game and practice reps in by the time the season hits full swing.

“We have got a lot of young kids,” Rines said. “We have a bright future, we’re going to battle and we’re going to play hard.”

ConVal

Last season: 11-6 (lost in first round to Sanborn)

Returning seniors: Tyler Aborn, Joe Edwards, Mathias Fressilli, Ivon Clough

Head Coach: Mike Marschok

First game: April 14 at Milford

Coach Marschok will return for his ninth season as the Cougars skipper. This season, the cougars will need to find a way to fill the voids left by mainstays Harrison LeFlem, Zach Mackey, and Taylor Doyle. LeFlem was the team’s starting shortstop and batted in the heart of the line up, Mackey started at third base, and Doyle was the team’s second best pitcher.

Freshman Danny Allen will be the teams starting shortstop, while also seeing time at second base. Sophomore Matt Davis will fill the void at first base in his first year on the team. Although Doyle is gone, the Cougars have ace Ivon Clough for one more year.

“Ivon is focused and ready to lead the team. He wants to win like nobody else,” said coach Marschok.

Senior Joe Edwards, Davis and junior Jarod Boothe will round out the Cougars pitching staff.

Senior Tyler Aborn will return as the team’s starting catcher, while Edwards will start at second base and senior Mathias Fressilli will split his time between first and second base.

The Cougars have four seniors in the starting lineup, and a lot of young talent for them to mentor.

“We are experienced and inexperienced at the same time,” said Marschok.

Junior Will McPhee will start in center field and sophomore Brandon Carland will start in right. Left field will be played by the committee of junior Jeremiah Nichols, senior Aaron Taylor, Nate Baker, and Mitch Hoffman.

“As the year goes on, we should get better. Last year we went 4-4 and then finished up 7-1 — that’s the type of team we are,” said Marschok.

The Cougars will look to get back to the playoffs and get hot at the right time.

“Home or away doesn’t matter to me come playoff time,” said Marschok.

WLC

Last season: 9-8 (lost in first round to Moultonborough)

Returning seniors: Kyle Pratt, Patrick Martin, Brandon Hussey

Head coach: Paul Trombley

First game: April 14 vs. Epping

The Warriors did not lose a single player to graduation after last year’s surprising run, positioning themselves for another successful season. The team had nine freshman on its roster last spring, all of whom gained valuable experience that will help in the coming months.

“Last season we were very young, I thought we did well. This year we are bringing everyone back and adding a few new guys,” said Trombley.

Head coach Paul Trombley is heading into his seventh year as the Warriors skipper and has high hopes for this years club.

“This group stacks up against any team I’ve ever had. They have a great attitude, they just want to play ball,” Trombley said.

Trombley will be relying on his three senior captains for leadership.

“My seniors are good leaders, they lead by example. That is something that we have not had in the past,” Trombley said.

Senior Kyle Pratt will play shortstop, senior Patrick Martin will be the Warriors horse on the mound, and senior Brandon Hussey will be the starting catcher.

Junior Connor Melrose will play first base, junior Drew Reid will start in left field while fellow junior Matt Allenberg will play right.

Sophomores Christian Seeley, Peter Dickerton, Morgan Brusseau, Nolan Stevens and Matt Ducharme round out the Warriors varsity roster. Seeley will star in center field, Dickerton will at second base, Stevens will play third, Bruseau will be in the outfield and Ducharme will be used as a utility infielder.

Seeley and Melrose will back up Pratt on the mound.

With three senior captains, the Warriors haver the leadership that they lacked during last season, when they finished higher than many expected they would. The senior duo of Pratt on the bump and Hussey behind the plate should go a long way in helping the young team grow up quickly once the season begins.

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