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|Donâ€™t expect a baseball repeat|
|Tuesday, 05 April 2011 14:59|
Letâ€™s take the pressure off DHS baseball coach Gordon Cushing before the season even starts.
In the 54-year history of Duxbury baseball, no team had ever gotten past the third round until last yearâ€™s miracle season put them in the Division II State finals, where they lost to Northbridge. While the 2010 season started with just two proven hitters in the lineup, by mid-season it seemed like everyone was on fire at the plate, as a team with plenty of first-year hitters exploded to average nine runs per game while stunning the EMass baseball community.
Could it happen again? Anything is possible, but a pitching staff with very little depth and a slew of inexperienced varsity players in the field, will give Cushing plenty of coaching challenges as the season progresses.
â€œI think anyone who expects us to come close to duplicating last yearâ€™s experience is in for a disappointment,â€ said the first-year coach, who coached the JV squad for 25 years.
While the 2010 team featured the Blout brothers as the No. 1 and No. 2 starters, the Dragons went three deep with sophomore Sam Jacobsen playing an important role on the pitching staff. The junior now slides into the No. 1 spot in the rotation after going 6-0 as a sophomore.
The No. 2 spot will go to junior Clint Bylo, who was on the JV team as a freshman, and is now back in town after missing his sophomore campaign.
At this point in his pitching plans, Cushing runs into a roadblock.
â€œI just donâ€™t have a lock at the No. 3 spot,â€ said Cushing. â€œItâ€™s really a crap shoot to see if anyone of these four kids can make it happen on the mound.â€
Junior Aiden Garrity, sophomore James Marcello, senior Jake Wong, and NY transfer Mason Crane will all get a look to prove their abilities.
Wong may be the hidden gem among the quartet, as his left handed delivery and strong arm could be over-powering to batters, despite the fact he hasnâ€™t been groomed as a pitcher during his baseball career.
Despite the staffâ€™s lack of experience, they couldnâ€™t find a better catcher to guide them through the season than senior captain Joe Coyne.
â€œI expect Joe to catch just about every inning this year,â€ said Cushing. â€œHe provides us with great leadership and he knows what it takes to get us to the tournament after last year.â€
Junior left-handed hitter Robbie Johnson will back up Coyne and get some time as a DH.
Senior Jake Carlton looks like the starter at first base after showing he can hit from the right side, while junior Justin Marino will also see some action at the bag.
Junior Steve Showstead has nailed down the second base slot after a successful JV season that included a call up to the varsity during the tournament run. Senior Jack Goldberg will serve as his back-up.
Marcello has earned the praise of Cushing and will anchor the infield at shortstop.
â€œJames is kind of a dirt-dog type player,â€ said his coach. â€œHeâ€™s a good athlete with great hands and is an excellent fielder. Iâ€™ll bat him lead off too. Heâ€™s fast and is pretty slick with the bat.â€
Junior Nick Kangos, one of the fastest athletes at DHS, will patrol the hot corner at third where Cushing likes his quickness on hard hit balls and his strong arm to make the throw across the diamond. Bylo could also be in the mix at third as a back-up.
Senior captain Pat Sweeney will take a regular shift in left field after being one of the Dragonsâ€™ most productive clutch hitters last season as a DH.
â€œPat has been crushing the ball all over the place in the preseason and we just need to continue working on his fielding,â€ said Cushing.
Johnson, sophomore Joe Guilfoile, junior Jason Marino, and Crane will back up the outfield spot.
Wong looks like the everyday centerfielder, as Cushing says his strong arm, speed and ability to run down fly balls should solidify the outfield defensively.
Playing on his left side will be Garrity, who will alternate between right and the pitcherâ€™s mound.
Junior Brendan Connolly will supply some power from the right side as a DH.
â€œI think the top six kids in our batting order will hit,â€ said Cushing. â€œI also think weâ€™ll field pretty well and I have confidence in our ability to throw around the leather. The X factor for us will be our pitching. After Jacobsen and Bylo, who will be our third starter? We may lack experience, but I do think we have nice baseball players on this team.â€
The Dragons open their season on Wednesday afternoon when they travel to Plymouth North to take on the Eagles at 4 p.m.