Spring Sports Preview: Baseball

Senior shortstop Thomas Papeo, who scored 10 runs and swiped five bases as a sophomore, reaches back and prepares to throw to first for the double play.


Sports Editor  

            The baseball team looks to improve this season after finishing third in the Red Division with a record of 17-12 last year. The team will try to build on that success despite losing key players to graduation and injury. 

            The ballplayers have set lofty goals for the upcoming season. “My expectations for the season are high,” explained senior second baseman Michael Villani, who scored 11 runs last year. “We have a lot of talent and boys that want to win and compete, and we are going to do that.” 

            The team lost more than ten seniors from last year’s roster to graduation, including the two team leaders in hits. “Last year we were more of an older group coming into the season,” said senior shortstop Thomas Papeo, who racked up 15 hits and stole five bases last year. “This year not only do we have experienced varsity players, but a good young core of kids that can play at this level and that all have one goal in common.” 

Senior second baseman Mike Villiani, whose 17 hits last season is second out of the returning players, throws the ball to first base during warmups.

            The team also lost senior pitcher Justin Herbstman, who led the team in strikeouts with 88, to a season ending injury. “It’s difficult to lose him, but we’re not worried,” said junior pitcher Frank Papeo, who finished last season with a team leading 1.25 ERA. “We have a ton of tough guys who can step up and fill in to compete.” 

            The players have overcome obstacles in the past and believe they are better for it. “The team has been through some rough patches and rough losses in the past, but we knew what we did wrong in those losses,” said Papeo Frank, who also tied for third on the team with 18 hits last year. “The mentality is there this, we all want to win.” 

            Ten players with varsity experience returned to take the field for the squad this season. “We are much closer than last time,” said senior catcher Kyle McSorley, who led the team in home runs and finished second in RBIs as a junior. “Everyone’s been together for a long time.” 

Senior catcher Kyle McSorley, who led the team in homeruns, loads his swing as he waits for the pitch.

            Behind veterans like McSorely, the team aims to take a big step forward. “We have a lot of leadership on this team, and it all starts with them,” said Frank Papeo. “They’re ready to have a productive season and lead us.” 

            The senior leaders themselves expect the team to exceed last year’s performance, which ended in the quarterfinals of the GMC and the State tournaments. “With the group of players we have this season, I expect us to be a playoff team that can go far in the season,” Thomas Papeo predicted. 

            Come out and support the boys when they play their first game on April 4 at home at 11:00 am against J.P. Stevens. 

Posted on 3/31/23 

Photos by Tim O’Neill

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