Spend any time around Greenwich baseball Coach Mike Mora and you quickly realize his favorite expression is "that's baseball."

It is an all-encompassing phrase that accounts for every bounce, good or bad, every umpires call, good or bad, and just about any other minute aspect of the game that can swing it's outcome one way or another.

Last season, as his team went unbeaten in the regular season, even Mora had to chuckle a few times as every "that's baseball" seemed to favor his team.

When discussing how his talented team a season ago caught some breaks Mora is quick to point out that despite the tremendous regular season run, the Cardinals finished the season with nothing to show for their efforts, losing in the FCIAC finals and Class LL state quarterfinals, finishing 23-2.

"We hope the guys understand last year was a special season, but as special as it was it didn't end the way we wanted it to. Our focus this year is just to get better every day," Mora said. "I think the league is much more even this year, not as top heavy, so if you can make the playoffs, you did a good job."

The team took some deep graduation hits but return a solid core, led by captains, All-State right fielder Taylor Olmstead and maybe the best pitcher in the FCIAC in Ryan Marks.

The returning players acknowledge how great last season was, but return with a desire to bring home a championship.

"We had a great team last year, great group of guys and we lost a lot of key guys but we have a lot of players with varsity experience coming back," Olmstead said. "This year I think we will do just fine. We have a lot of guys that are working hard and are learning the job they have to do and I think we will compete again this year."

The Cardinals will have to run a tough gauntlet through an improved FCIAC field but, on paper anyway, have as good a shot as anyone to win the FCIAC title.

AT THE HELM: Mora returns for his 13th season leading the Cardinals.

WHO'S GONE?: Greenwich lost it's core up the middle with Dylan Callahan (P/SS), Matt Pruner (2B), David Berdoff (CF) and Casey Gaynor (P) all graduating.

The middle was the strength last year and Mora feels how well those holes are filled will determine the success of the team.

"It is hard because those are such important positions," Mora said. "I think we have the kids to do it we just need to figure out what is going to fit best and just coach them up."

WHO'S BACK?: Cam Fennell returns at third base, Ricky Okazaki, who played catcher last year, will most likely move to a middle infield spot, closer Kyle Dunster will now be the No. 2 starter and centerfielder and Vincent Ferraro will man either second base or shortstop.

Reserves Ryota Fujikura (IF/DH) and Nick Bancroft (LF) will move into starting roles this year as well.

WATCH OUT FOR: First base has been a position filled by a different player every season and this year Liam O'Neil, who is back to baseball after not playing for two years, and Justin Gaccione will be vying for time along with Marks on non-pitching days.

Greenwich will also be playing someone new at catcher as Okazaki moves to the field with juniors Sean Marks and John Dreyer both making their case to kneel behind home plate.

STRENGTHS: Despite losing two top pitchers, the Cardinals have depth at the position and that will come in handy with three games scheduled most weeks.

"It is going to be a tough league again and I am not taking it lightly," Marks said. "Last year was evidence, we had a lot of good pitchers and in the end we were still scraping for innings. I think this year we have good depth. We are still looking for No. 4 and 5 guys but a lot of guys are stepping up and I think it looks good right now."

The rotation will be rounded out by J.T. Hintzen, Pat Callahan and O'Neil.

WEAKNESSES: Pitching and hitting are what everyone looks at but the Cardinals were successful last year in part because they fielded the ball really well and they will need to not give away runs to stay competitive in the league.

SHOWDOWNS: Greenwich opens at home Friday against Warde, is at St. Joseph April 17, Westhill May 3 and hosts Trumbull May 8.

DID YOU KNOW?: Olmstead will be playing at UConn next year and Marks will be taking the bump at Columbia.