Staples spring preview: Title hunt begins for Wreckers baseball
Updated 11:23 am, Thursday, April 2, 2015
There have been seasons when the Staples baseball team has snuck into the FCIAC playoffs as a lower seed and claimed the title. And then there was last year, when the Wreckers posted a 17-3 regular season record only to be bounced in the first round of FCIACs and the second round of the Class LL tournament.
With that in mind, the primary goal for coach Jack McFarland and his team is to reach the FCIAC field and secure a state tournament spot. Staples had appeared in the FCIAC playoffs the last eight seasons.
"It's not easy to win 16 out of 18 league games; it's a big accomplishment to be regular season champions and win your division," McFarland said. "But the mini tournaments are hard to win, you have got to get hot at the right time. If you don't take care of business in the regular season you won't be in the FCIAC playoffs, you can slide from No. 3 to No. 9 just like that."
Staples will have to replace All-FCIAC hitters Adam Dulsky and Sam Ellinwood, and several crucial cogs from last season's rotation. But McFarland is confident this year's team can build off 2014 and compete for championships.
Columbia-bound Ian Burns will be one of the top pitchers for the Wreckers, along with sophomore Ben Casparius. Staples begins its season April 8 at home against Newtown.
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Ross Poulley will serve as co-captain along with Burns. Poulley, along with catcher Noah Yokoi, should provide a formidable punch in the middle of the lineup.
"Noah is a patient hitter," McFarland said. "He gets his pitch, he doesn't swing at bad pitches he doesn't get himself out. Some kids get over-anxoious and swing at balls in the dirt and over their head. He won't do that; he's a good quality hitter."
In the infield, Casparius and Marco Latella will guard the middle, Poulley will play first and there is a battle for time at third, according to McFarland. Sean Clark and Nathan Panzer will two of the primary outfielders for the Wreckers.
Panzer and Casparius will set the table at the top of the lineup to compliment Poulley and Yokoi,
"That's four big bats right there," McFarland said. "By the time the pitcher gets through those kids (the pitcher will) be pretty warn out."
The league is set up to be as competitive as ever in 2015, and McFarland expects a dogfight to be one of the eight teams vying for a championship. The Wreckers won three titles from 2008-2011, but just have one FCIAC playoff win since.
The Wreckers will visit Warde (April 20) and Greenwich (April 22) -- the two teams that dealt Staples playoff defeats -- within a two-game stretch early in the season.
"We're pretty excited, we've been working hard this whole winter," Yokoi said. "We've had morning practices, a lot of us work out on our own with weight training; everyone works hard here."