Players to watch
- Thomas Milone, Masuk: The UConn-bound outfielder is a true five-tool talent and has the potential to be a very high draft pick in this June's MLB amateur draft.
- Ryan Testani, Shelton: Senior righty was the Gaels' ace during their Class LL title run last June, throwing a two-hitter in the championship game. Testani finished 9-3 with a 1.31 ERA and is signed to pitch at Seton Hall.
- Griffin Garabedian, ND-WH: Another in-state player who'll be suiting up at UConn next year, the senior center fielder has been a mainstay for the Green Knights for the last three years.
- Kevin Hickey, Fairfield Ludlowe: Six-foot-8 junior southpaw missed last season because of injury and is a Division I prospect.
- Ron Rossomondo, Bunnell: Six-foot-5 righty won eight games as a freshman and is one of the reasons why people are expecting, no pun intended, big things from the Bulldogs this spring.
- Adam Thayer, Ansonia: A two-way talent at pitcher and first base, he went 7-2 on the mound while hitting .323 for the Chargers.
- Charles Ameer, Weston: Twice named all-state, the senior pitcher/infielder will play at St. John's.
- Sal Frosceno, Derby: Lefty went 11-1 with a 1.07 ERA as a sophomore. Also batted .386 and will be relied on as the Red Raiders try to get over the hump in Class S after losing in last year's state final.
- Casey McCone, Foran: Senior infielder led the Lions in all offensive categories last year, earning all-SCC honors and will again be a key bat.
- James DeNomme, Trumbull: An all-state catcher for last year's FCIAC champ, he will play at Hofstra.
- Matt Batten, St Joseph: Quinnipiac-bound shortstop hit .408 last year with 18 RBIs and should anchor one of the better infields in the FCIAC.
Teams to watch
- Bunnell: Young pitching coupled with veteran position players is a combination that many think will make the Bulldogs a team to beat in the SWC.
- Fairfield Ludlowe: The Falcons have almost their entire team back and a core of college-bound talent, which seems like a recipe for success come playoff time.
- Weston: With seven starters and their top four starters back, the Trojans appear primed for a run in the SWC and Class M, where they lost in the semifinal round last spring.
- Amity: The defending SCC champion is considered by many around the state as the preseason No. 1 team. The Spartans usually have the talent to back up those claims.
Storylines to watch
- Will SCC be dominant again?: In recent years the SCC has flexed its muscles as the best baseball league in the state, producing at least one state champion every year since 2006. Smart money says don't bet against that trend ending this spring.
- Does the FCIAC run through Trumbull?: Greenwich and New Canaan will likely say otherwise, but as the season opens today, both Trumbull and St. Joseph appear to be two of the better teams in the FCIAC. The Eagles won the league last season as a low seed and will look to build on that success, while St. Joseph will field a team that should contend every day thanks to a deep pitching staff.
Games to watch
- St. Joseph at Seymour, Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
- Law at Foran, April 10, 4 p.m. (Field dedication to Ken Walker)
- Amity at ND-West Haven, April 17, 3:45
- Shelton at Amity, April 19, 4 p.m.
- Trumbull at St. Joseph, April 24, 4 p.m.
- Masuk at Bunnell, April 25, 4:15
- Trumbull at Greenwich, May 8, 4 p.m.
- Shelton at Fairfield Prep, May 13, 4:15 p.m.
Bassick (0-20, 2012 record) has a little more experience returning than in recent years. Returnees include senior first baseman/pitcher Sergio Valenzuela and junior catcher Maurice Kelly. ... Central (4-16) is shooting for a place in the state playoffs, led by all-FCIAC second-teamers, outfielder Josh Nieves and shortstop Eric Vilanova, along with pitcher Christian Rodriguez and second baseman Kevin Sanchez. ... Fairfield Ludlowe (9-12) is a veteran club, bringing back all eight position players and almost its entire pitching staff. Senior shortstop/reliever Victor D'Ascenzo (.323) will play at Lafayette, while classmate Charlie Meder, a center fielder, will play at Washington College. The Falcons also have four-year starter at third, Mike Kochiss, the last remaining link to the team's 2010 FCIAC championship team. ... Fairfield Warde (12-9) graduated nine seniors and will rely on pitching. Senior Mike DeFilippis (2.58 ERA) will lead the staff. Senior shortstop Taylor Carelli (.345 batting average) and third baseman T.J. Tracey, along with junior outfielder Mike Foley (.420), will be leaned on offensively. ... Harding (2-18) might have more talent than usual, led by seniors Jermaine Page, Dimas Rivera and Marco Lopez. ... McMahon (16-8) has only two returning starters. Holdovers from last year's squad include seniors Mike Giordano, Mark Ballard, Alex Valenzano and Andrew Seiden. ... Norwalk (6-14) aims to get back into the state tournament led by senior righty Sean Butler and junior lefty Tom Henderson. ... Staples (15-7) is a perennial FCIAC contender. The Wreckers are anchored by senior pitcher Chris Speer (4-0, 2.35) and four-year starter at first base, Bryan Terzian. ... St. Joseph (19-6) has pitching in spades with Stanley Wolpiuk, Jamie Brown, Ryan Moran, Jordan Vazzano, Jake Amoroso and Nick Williams all vying for time on the mound. Matt Batten and Mark Hirschbeck will be counted on to pace the Cadets' offense, which lost some of its firepower to graduation. ... Last year's surprise FCIAC champ, Trumbull (16-8), lost ace Mike Yerina, but still has 90 innings of varsity ball back, led by UConn-bound Gerard Spiegel. Catcher James DeNomme should help out a staff that also includes junior Colin Keyes.
Barlow (6-14) doesn't have much varsity experience, so the Falcons will rely on senior shortstop Kieran Geyer, senior second baseman Walter Frank and junior pitcher Adam Koubeck. ... Bunnell (13-10) is strong up the middle with senior Tim White in center and the double-play combination of Matt Nolting at short and Cameron Belliveau at second. Sophomores Ron Rossomondo and Justin Lasko anchor the Bulldogs' rotation. ... Masuk (7-13) will be a dangerous team thanks to the UConn-bound Thomas Milone, but elsewhere the Panthers are young. Junior Malik Cummings and sophomores Jay Bublmann, Anthony Amoroso and Kyle Horton (.365) will be relied on. ... Newtown (18-7) won the SWC a year ago, but only brings back three starters. Fortunately for the Nighthawks those returnees include all-SWC infielder Justin Devellis and SWC tournament MVP Brandon Morrow, who pitched to a 1.31 ERA in 37 innings as a junior. They head up a senior class that goes 11 deep. ... Notre Dame-Fairfield (7-13) has a new coach (Bill Mazzucco) and will rely on seniors Anthony Searles, Erik Laaksonen, Will Clyne, PJ DeFilippo and Karl Rodriguez. Searles, a catcher, was named the first Lancers' captain in 12 years. ... Oxford (8-14) will be anchored by pitching. Seniors Steve Mahoney, Kyle Chudoba and Dan Kudej helm a veteran staff. Senior outfielder James Michaud is the top returning Wolverine batter. ... Stratford (13-9) will need to replace most of its varsity innings from last year's SWC/Class L playoff team. Seniors Alec Ward and Joe Defrancesco will see time on the mound and the outfield. Senior Mike Tecci will play at one of the corners and classmate Chris Reyes will anchor the Red Devils' outfield. ... Weston (16-9) went to the Class M semifinals a year ago and brings back most of that squad. The senior class is led by all-stater Charles Ameer, along with Tyler Hassett and Justin Resnick, while the junior class is led by all-stater Ethan Lee-Tyson, along with Asher Lee-Tyson and Greg Kaeser.
Amity (20-6), last year's league champion, is one of those programs that reloads instead of rebuilds. Senior ace Mike Concato and Sam Nepiarsky should lead the way for this talented group. ... Fairfield Prep (11-11) figures to be another team led by pitching and defense. Key players include seniors David Gerics, Kenny Collins and Kyle Mollo along with junior Shawn Blake. ... Foran (12-11) enters a new era with Garrett Walker taking over as coach. He replaces his late father, Ken, who died in June. The Lions should be competitive again, powered by veterans Casey McCone, all-SCC catcher Joe Zanghi and first baseman/pitcher Anthony Alicki. ... Law (12-11) should have a strong pitching staff with junior Rich Dow at the front end of its rotation. Seniors Drew DeRubeis and Dave DeRubeis along with juniors Jake Rouse and Dillon Rocha will see lots of time in the field for the Lawmen this spring. ... Notre Dame-West Haven (16-6) is one of those teams you can never count out. The Green Knights are working in some new pitchers, but still have a solid veteran core led by the UConn-bound Griffin Garabedian and Stonehill-bound Greg Zullo. Other returnees are Brian Rhone, Drew Arcivolo and Brendan Wynne. ... Defending Class LL champion Shelton (22-5) lost five college players from its championship squad. The Gaels still have a strong core, led by pitcher/first baseman Ryan Testani, center fielder Marcello Ursini (.416) and infielders Tyler Tice and Ed Groth. ... West Haven (10-10) will rely on senior pitcher Cameron Stone (1.29 ERA), who'll play at Stony Brook. Seniors Tyler Gambardella and Bob Moretti each hit over .300 last year.
Ansonia (15-9) has a good deal of talent back, including junior shortstop Bobby Schryver, who batted .423 last year. Other returnees include Adam Thayer, catcher Matt Pitney and outfielders Darwin Ellis and Ryan O'Conner. ... Bullard-Havens (20-3) lost seven players from its CSC championship squad. The Tigers still have their ace in senior Jose Garcia (6-0, 0.88). Junior Kavon Ruffin returns to the team after missing his sophomore season with a torn ACL and could turn heads. ... Derby (23-4) won the NVL and lost in last year's Class S final. Six starters are back including junior ace Sal Frosceno. Senior first baseman Zach Vollo and sophomore shortstop Michael Kreiger each drove in 20 runs in 2012. The Red Raiders' pitching looks solid, so hitting will be key. ... O'Brien Tech (11-11) lost six seniors and only has one returning pitcher with varsity experience. Senior shortstop Brandon Cornish (.438) and sophomore catcher Mike Wojnagi (.353) will be counted on. ... The top priority for Seymour (12-11) is increasing its run production in 2013. Seniors Mike Conlan, Mike Tuscano and Jim Vartelas will all see time on the mound, as will juniors Nick Kuzia, Jake Walkinshaw and Nick D'Agostino.
Compiled by staff writer Mike Cardillo