Team graduates majority of starting lineup, new strategy put to the test
By P. Erik Meyer ’14
Wanting to rectify that moment is following the team into the new season.
“As usual we want to win the state title, we’ve got some work to do,” said head baseball coach Mr. Tom Succow. “We’re off to a little bit of a slow start, today the new rankings came out, were still ranked in the top 10, I think we are number five or something like that.”
Last year’s team was led by seniors, but only seven of the team’s players from last year return for this year.
“Last year’s team had a bunch of three-year starters, John Rapisarda ’12, Dave Graybill ’12, Chris Beall ’12, Emilio Torrez ’12 were three year starters; Jeff Clasen ’12 was a two year starter,” Mr. Succow said. “Those guys carried us a little bit. We do have pitching back from last year because Michael Westra ’13 was more or less our No. 1 last year. Steven Oleksak ’13 got a lot of innings on the mound, he ended up being our closer during the state tournament in mid-April.”
Defense and pitching appears to be the strongpoint of the team so far this year.
“We’ve gotten really good performances on the mound by Westra, Ryan Castellani ’14 , Garret Rupp ’14 and Oleksak. Those are our top four guys who have pitched for us,” Mr. Succow said. “Defensively we’ve played really well, especially with Ryan Grotjohn ’13 at second base, Charlie Coppola ’13 at shortstop; up the middle we are solid. Connor Messman ’13 is a third year guy for us he’s doing the catching this year.
Offensively, the team has been struggling as of late, averaging about two runs a game.
“We just need to work on consistency through the whole lineup, we’ve just got to get our bats going because our pitching is good so as long as we do that we should be good,” Castellani said.
Castellani started last year on the team as a sophomore.
“Castellani was sort of a sophomore phenom last year, he hit nine home runs, and hit three already this year,” Mr. Succow said.
Castellani said he recognizes that the team has evolved and that they need to change their style of play.
“We need to find ourselves and play together as a team, because we’re not going to have the big power bats we had last year so we’re going to have to be a small ball team and play smartly,” Castellani said. “I don’t want to say we’re rebuilding, but we’re reloading.”
Last year’s team was near the top in the country in home runs, according to Mr. Succow.
“It’s a totally different team from before, we were a power team last year,” Mr. Succow said. “We were a team that was second in the country in home runs; I think we hit 49 last year.”
The team will face a difficult schedule that consists of Sandra Day O’Connor, Mountain Pointe, Horizon, Hamilton, Saint Mary’s, Desert Vista and Chaparral.
“We just need to find who we are, we lost seven seniors so we just need to find our lineup,” Castellani said. “We want to win state, that should be every team’s goal.”