The Staples High baseball team is no stranger to postseason success. In fact, the Wreckers have been a fixture in the FCIAC playoffs over the last decade.
After losing to New Canaan in the conference final in 2006, the Wreckers bounced back with titles in 2008, 2009 and 2011.
"We have high expectations here," coach Jack McFarland said on Friday.
The Wreckers went 16-8 last season -- losing in the FCIAC semifinals and LL state second round -- and are determined to make another deep postseason run.
McFarland said that the Wreckers' offense was the team's Achilles' heel in 2012, but he believes it will now be a strength. The Wreckers scored just 10 runs in their last eight losses last season.
"I really think that we're putting a lineup out there that's going to produce," he said. "We're hoping that we're going to score a couple more runs. We're definitely faster and have a little more power. So we have all the ingredients."
The Wreckers return several impact hitters including senior first baseman Bryan Terzian, an all-FCIAC selection last year. Senior Eli Andrew will start at third base and junior Sam Ellinwood will be at shortstop. Senior Matt Campbell and junior Nick Vega will compete for time at second base.
"We wanted to take advantage of James' legs in the outfield and let him run around," McFarland said.
Shadowing Frusciante in the outfield will be a pair of seniors, Alex Ludel in left field and Matt Smith in right field.
"This year we feel like we have a lot of kids with big-game experience," McFarland said.
While Staples' offense produced at times last year -- scoring ten-plus runs six times -- the Wreckers also got strong pitching. They surrendered just over three runs per game in 2012.
Anchoring the staff will be senior left-hander Chris Speer, who went 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA last season. He'll be joined at the top of the rotation by senior right-hander Greg Salamone (six saves in 2012).
"Chris and Greg I think are going to be No. 1 and 1A," McFarland said.
"You've got to develop pitching in this league," McFarland said.
Staples opens its season on Wednesday against Newtown at home.
With the FCIAC projected to again be crowded with contenders, McFarland said his team's focused on simply returning to the postseason.
"The key is just to qualify for these tournaments," he said. "You can't win it if you're not in it."
email@example.com; 203-255-4561 ext. 114; twitter.com/DougBonjour