The Staples baseball team enters the season with experience, depth and high hopes of continuing its winning ways of years past.

Head Coach Jack McFarland's squad returns seven starters from last year's team that went 18-2 in the regular season, 18-4 overall and just missing a third straight FCIAC championship.

"We lost three great players in David Speer, Jack Hennessy and Grant Moss but feel very good about the group we have coming back this season," McFarland said.

Staples also misses Jimmy Sikorski, a righty pitcher who is also a solid hitter and infielder. Sikorski is currently playing for Cornell University.

Speer is a lefty pitcher and was dominant on the mound for three years. He's now pitching for Columbia University.

Moss and Hennessy were lethal hitters with the former player at Rollins College and the latter is running track at Boston College.

The Wreckers have 14 seniors on the team and they are backed up by nine juniors. Bryan Terzian is the only sophomore on the team and he will man the third-base position and help out as a relief pitcher.

Staples' outfield this season features three 3-year starters in senior quad-captains Brendan Bernstein, Ben Lipper and Ryan Burke who each hit over .380 last season. The slugging trio is eager to get back to it. Burke said, "We've played together for so long and seen a lot of different pitchers over the years. That really helps us when we go up to hit."

Bernstein echoed his teammate by adding, "We played together on the 2003 State Champion Little League team and play each summer, too." Some of the Wrecker seniors played this past summer on the Baseball U New England team, a program developed to introduce top high school prospects to college baseball coaches.

The fourth Wrecker senior quad-captain is shortstop Tyler Jacobs. Jacobs participated in Baseball U New England this past summer and has committed to Amherst College to play both baseball and football. "There will be a lot of good teams this season like Trumbull, Norwalk and St. Joe's," Jacobs said. "The FCIAC is always tough."

Senior Colin McCarthy is a solid hitter and returns as the starting first baseman. Classmates Mikey Scott and Mike McGowan take over as the starting second baseman and catcher, respectively.

Leading Staples on the mound in 2011 will be senior Rob Gau, another Baseball U alum who has committed to Trinity College next year, also in both baseball and football. The hard-throwing lefty is eager to get the season started and said, "We've got good depth in pitching this year with [senior] Eric Sawyer, [juniors] Zach Levins [and] Jimmy Kopack and [senior] Dylan Meissner."

Gau also said he's seen many of the players the team will face this year in summer leagues and past seasons and like his coach expects another tough FCIAC season.

Entering his seventh year as Staples head coach, McFarland feels good about the Wrecker's prospects this year. The 2009 Coach of the Year is plain-spoken about his squad. "Our defense is strong and we have some of the best hitters in the area. With Rob Gau we have a real leader and as good as it gets on the mound. We're excited about this season and ready to get going."

Traditional FCIAC powerhouses Trumbull, St. Joseph's, Stamford and Norwalk are all strong again this year, according to McFarland. "Every game will be important but we feel we're ready for the challenge."