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2018 Upper Valley High School Baseball Preview

  • South Royalton's Jacob Hewitt celebrates a run home during South Royalton at Rivendell baseball on Thursday, May 11, 2017, in Orford, N.H. South Royalton won, 5-1. (Valley News - Jovelle Tamayo) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.


Valley News Correspondent
Saturday, April 21, 2018

By Bill Wilkinson

The interminable winter weather in the area has brought the high school baseball season to a crawl. Many teams have had few, if any, practices outdoors on the diamond, and game postponements have been the rule of thumb. But warmer weather is on the horizon, finally, leaving teams eager to start the run of what is sure to be a condensed game schedule in the coming weeks.

Two-time defending VPA Division IV state champion South Royalton is looking forward to its last season before the upcoming school merger with Whitcomb and will be shepherded by first-year coach Devin Cilley. The rebuilding Royals graduated eight players last season and will return just five from that most recent title team.

“I’m hoping the experience my returners gained last year, winning a state championship, will rub off on some of the new guys,” Cilley said. “We’re looking to be back toward the top of the pack in D-IV. We hope to make it a great final season.”

Hanover and Lebanon each missed the NHIAA Division II playoffs a year ago, and each have rosters full of upperclassmen looking to lead a postseason rebirth.

Here’s a capsule look at each team:

HANOVER

Coach: John Grainger (3 years).

Last year: 7-9, missed playoffs.

League: NHIAA Division II.

Returnees: Seniors — Moises Celaya (P/IF), Charlie Goodrich (OF), Marcus Hampers (1B), David Lehmann (SS/P), Braxton McNulty (C), Aris Rassias (OF), Sam Maynes (OF). Juniors — Kegan Silovich (OF), Nick Starosta (IF). Sophomores — Joey Perras (IF/P), Jack Loftus (C).

Newcomers: Juniors — Sam Gallimore (IF), Paul Tanny (IF). Sophomore — Nolan Gantrish (IF/P).

Analysis: A large group of returning players with plenty of varsity experience has the Marauders looking to take a big step up the D-II standings this season. Moises Celaya will lead the pitching staff and will also be a key contributor at the plate. Fellow captain Charlie Goodrich figures to be another anchor in the middle of the lineup. Hanover will also get plenty of contributions from Joey Perras and Nolan Gantrish on the mound; shortstop David Lehmann provides strong play up the middle.

“We have a good mix of talent throughout classes, so I’m hopeful for a good year,” Grainger said. “I think we will score a lot of runs, and we’ll be aggressive on the base paths.”

HARTFORD

Coach: Jarrod Grassi (15).

Last year: 12-4, lost in VPA Division I semifinals.

Leagues: VPA Division II, Marble Valley League.

Returnees: Seniors — Tyler Hamilton (SS/P/C), Hunter Perkins (IF/P), Cody Thayer (OF), Walker Farley (UT). Juniors — Nick Cameron (1B), Riley Packard (UT). Sophomore — Kyle Hamilton (P/C/INF).

Newcomers: Junior — Luke Patriquin (OF). Sophomores — Brent Potter (UT), Dakota Chapman (1B/P). Freshman — Alex Bushway (UT).

Analysis: The Hurricanes will begin life without graduated ace pitcher Jordy Allard by relying on a group low on experience but high on enthusiasm. With limited outdoor practice time so far, the Canes are still looking to iron out a starting lineup as they put the pieces together for the 2018 season. Hartford will play a schedule featuring 11 of 16 games against VPA Division I opponents, so experience against high-level competition will come quickly.

“I like this group. We lack a lot of experience, but they do have a passion. It’s just going to be a process. They work hard, and there’s a lot of talent there. It’ll work itself out and fall into place,” Grassi said.

LEBANON

Coach: Doug Ashey (25).

Last year: 6-10, missed playoffs.

League: NHIAA Division II.

Returnees: Seniors — Matt Eylander (P/OF), Ryan Nicholson (IF), Hunter Boutin (UT), Jaret Armstrong (OF/P), Tyler Tewksbury (C/DH), Derek Griffin (P/1B). Juniors — Joe Dupree (C/DH/IF), Kyle Pelletier (IF/P), Graham Ten Haken (UT).

Newcomers: Junior — Jared Audette (P/IF) Sophomore — Caleb Smith (P/IF), Tom Berthasavage (C/IF/OF), John Willeman (P/IF), Kobe Benoit (P/IF), Cooper Bourne (OF). Freshman — Trey Chickering (OF/P).

Analysis: Despite a roster featuring 10 upperclassmen, the Raiders are a bit light on varsity experience. Lingering winter weather has prevented the Raiders from even practicing on their own home field as of yet, further complicating the process of finalizing a lineup.

“I’m really optimistic. This is a fun group to work with; they’re accepting of the challenge to get better, even just in the gym practicing so far,” Ashey said. “I’m looking forward to the season and to seeing these young, inexperienced players advance. Hopefully we can make some noise and be competitive by the end of the season.”

MASCOMA

Coach: David Isom (1).

Last year: 1-15, missed playoffs.

League: NHIAA Division III.

Returnees: Seniors — Ethan Brueckner (P/IF), Tyler Warner (IF/OF/P). Juniors — Caleb McAlister (IF/OF/P), Devin Tetreault (IF/OF/P).

Newcomers: Seniors — Asa Johnson (P/2B/OF), Logan Hall (C/1B), Tyler Bill (P/C/3B), Seth Martin (UT). Juniors — Brennen Murphy (P/IF/OF), Adidas Murphy (P/OF). Sophomore — Nathaniel Gove (P/2B/SS). Freshmen — Logan Briand (UT), Elyas Laplaca (UT), Michael Evans (UT), Josh Evans (UT).

Analysis: The Royals feature a large number of new players to the varsity level but have the pitching depth to survive a condensed schedule and the NHIAA pitch-count rules. First-year coach Isom believes an improvement to a .500 record is not out of the cards.

“We have a lot of players who are new varsity baseball, which isn’t a bad thing,” Isom said. “I think this is a good group of kids who compete in most games. They come to practice ready to put in some hard work. Aside from pitching, one of our strengths will be our ability to make contact, making opposing teams get us out. I don’t think we’re going to get ourselves out too often.”

NEWPORT

Coach: Jonathan Hamel (3).

Last year: 4-12, missed playoffs.

League: NHIAA Division III.

Returnees: Seniors — Cody Turgeon (IF/P), Kyle Fish (P/SS/OF), Kyle Rossiter (C/3B/OF), Login Barry (UT). Juniors — J.T. Blaine (UT), Tony Robertson (2B/OF), Daniel Lee (1B).

Newcomers: Senior — Keegan Osgood (1B). Junior — Kobe Gallo (OF). Sophomore — Jarred Meyette (C/OF). Freshmen — Bryce Willey (2B/OF), Yoshi Sharron (OF/C).

Analysis: The four returning seniors figure to be leaders on and off the field for the Tigers, who return only four players with significant varsity experience from last season. Newport figures to rely on pitching and defense to stay competitive against a schedule loaded with teams that made the D-III playoffs a season ago.

“Many inexperienced players are going to have to take a big step forward and contribute. They’ve been a pleasure to coach so far and have been working hard. The goal is to make the playoffs, which is no easy feat with all the talented teams we play,” Hamel said.

OXBOW

Coach: Shawn French (20).

Last year: 5-11, lost to Montpelier in first round.

Leagues: VPA Division III, Capital League.

Returnees: Seniors — Sullivan French (1B/3B/P), Lincoln Ilsley (SS/2B/P). Juniors — Orin Mahikoa (SS/P/1B), Cody Grant (P/LF/SS). Sophomores — Jace Page (INF/P), Hunter Locke (P/1B/CF).

Newcomers: Juniors — Seth Carson (RF/2B), Brennan Kimball (OF). Sophomores — Cam Boardman (C/2B/3B), Trevor Moore (SS/2B/C).

Analysis: “With all of our pitching (from last season) coming back, we hope to have a solid year,” French said.

RIVENDELL

Coach: Eric Reichert (24).

Last year: 10-6, lost to Randolph in the VPA Division III second round.

Leagues: VPA Division IV, Central Vermont League.

Returnees: Seniors — Dashiel Fukushima (P/SS), Zach Peebles (DH). Juniors — Charlie Bradley (2B/P/OF), Luke Streeter (1B/P), Zach Dexter (C/P). Sophomores — Zach Gould (CF/P/1B), Dylan Ricker (SS/P), Johnny Vogelien (3B/SS/P), Sean Maddock (2B/OF).

Newcomers: Seniors — Noah Martel (UT), Lennart Burgwedel (UT). Sophomores — Ross McFate (C/OF), Henry Tse (OF), Ryan Woodbeck (OF/3B), Francisco Inigo Malnar (OF). Juniors — Nathaniel Parkin (OF), Ty Newman (1B/OF/P), Bailey Welch (UT), Owen Mansur (UT).

Analysis: Senior Dashiel Fukushima will lead the pitching staff, and play shortstop when not on the mound, to lead the Raptors. “I’m hoping some of the younger shortstops and infielders can learn the game through watching Dashiel go about his business,” Reichert said.

Zach Gould drew praise as one of the best defensive outfielders Reichert has seen in his tenure at Rivendell. With numerous weather-rescheduled games sure to fill the latter weeks of the season, pitching depth will be tested.

“This is an enjoyable group of athletes to coach. I’m hoping that hard work and determination will result in steady improvement as the season progresses. We lack a great deal of experience, so we’ll need to continually think situational baseball as we work through the schedule,” Reichert said.

SHARON

Coach: Mike Bissaillon (1).

Last year: First-year varsity team.

Leagues: VPA Division IV, Central Vermont League.

Roster: Seniors — Aidan Trimble (CF/P/3B), Cal Hale (C/OF/P), Kyle Hedgepeth (P/SS), Christopher Pellegrino (1B), Koltin Leduc (OF), Sam Knoerlein (2B/P/OF), Kian Kaufman (OF/P/1B), Caleb Eastman (UT). Junior — Alex Olszewski (3B). Sophomore — Jackson Bradford (2B/OF). Freshmen — Tom Bissaillon (SS/P/3B), Ian Robertson (2B/OF/P), Lelan Pelletier (2B/OF/P). Eighth Grade — Chase Conway (OF/2B), Jaime Potter (OF/2B), Blair Locke (OF/2B).

Analysis: Sharon Academy debuts at the varsity level with a big group of seniors, including some members of the Phoenix’s recent undefeated VPA D-IV state championship boys basketball team. Sharon will be playing its home games at Chelsea High. The Phoenix played as a club team in 2016 and at the junior varsity level a year ago.

“With no varsity experience but talented players, we’re not sure what to expect this year,” Bissaillon said. “We do look forward to experiencing all the firsts in program history.”

SOUTH ROYALTON

Coach: Devin Cilley (1).

Last year: 17-0, won second straight state championship.

Leagues: VPA Division IV, Central Vermont League.

Returnees: Senior — Dominick Small (1B/P). Junior — Jacob Hewitt (SS/P). Sophomores — Zebulon Perrault (C/OF), George Carr (C/OF/P), Logan Martin (P/3B).

Newcomers: Senior — Christopher McCullough (OF). Junior — Alvaro Sanabrio (OF). Freshmen — Tyler Ballentine (OF/1B/P), Ryan Smith (OF/1B/P), Jacob Barry (2B/OF/P), Carder Stratton (SS/3B/P). Eighth Grade — Arliss Spaulding (UT), Dominick Craven (UT), Austin Tracy (UT), Weston Trombly (UT).

Analysis: The Royals are embarking on their final season as two-time defending state champions before the upcoming school merger with Whitcomb. This team features just four upperclassmen and is led by co-captains Dominick Small and Jacob Hewitt. Logan Martin will be a key member of the pitching staff. First-year coach Devin Cilley is expecting team defense to be a strength.

“Expectations are high this year, as they are every year. There’s a lot of potential throughout this young lineup,” Cilley said. “This is a young team with a lot of talent. I expect the boys to continue to work hard, have positive attitudes and be committed to showing up every day.”

STEVENS

Coach: Paul Silva (12).

Last year: 14-4, lost to Raymond in quarterfinals.

League: NHIAA Division III.

Returnees: Seniors — Brendan Bean (1B), Aidan Cahill (C/OF), Drew Grenier (SS/P). Juniors — Ethan Johnson (IF/OF/P), Derrick Stanhope (CF/P), Trey Theriault (IF/P). Sophomore — Tyler Bonneau (IF/OF).

Newcomers: Senior — James Aiken (1B). Juniors — Cam Macia (C/IF/OF), Josh Stithen (3B/OF). Sophomore — Alex Taylor (OF). Freshmen — Gabe Miller (IF/P), Owen Taylor (1B/P).

Analysis: The Cardinals graduated four and lost other players to prep school, so the team will be a bit more inexperienced than in recent years. Drew Grenier will return to handle the bulk of the pitching duties while also providing a key bat at the top of the lineup. Derrick Stanhope is a defensive whiz in center field. Brendan Bean and Aidan Cahill will add much-needed varsity experience.

“I think this group will put the ball in play, and that’s half the battle,” Silva said. “We have two pitchers with varsity experience against some very good teams, and they should keep us in games. We lost five hitters from last year’s team, so I’m anxious to see what some of our younger players can do. Our goal is to try to win enough games to make the playoffs, and if you do that, you have a chance. I like the chemistry of this group.”

SUNAPEE

Coach: Tom Frederick (12).

Last year: 17-1, lost in semifinals to Pittsfield.

League: NHIAA Division IV.

Returnees: Seniors — Cade Robinson (SS), Nick Ducharme (3B/P). Juniors — Lane Smith (LF/1B), Matt Nangeroni (CF/P), Sean Shisko (2B), Gabe Hastings (P/OF), Mac Cahill (P/OF). Sophomores — Jordan Chappell (C), Quinn Fair (P/1B), Darren Hulton (P/C).

Newcomers: Sophomore — Anthony Borelli (OF). Freshmen — Jackson Cooney (UT), Harper Flint (UT), Sean Moynihan (UT), Garrett Rumrill (P/OF).

Analysis: The Lakers graduated three, including NHIAA D-IV player of the year Will Austin, from last season’s team that went undefeated in the regular season. This year’s team has depth in the pitching staff — led by Quinn Fair, Gabe Hastings and Nick Ducharme — that will help with the weather-condensed schedule to come.

“We’re young. We have a decent mix of abilities but will have to get some experience at certain positions. There could be some growing pains, but this group is working hard and is eager to learn,” Frederick said.

THETFORD

Coach: Phil Chaput (7).

Last year: 8-10, lost to Enosburg in quarterfinals.

Leagues: VPA Division III, Capital League.

Returnees: Seniors — Dan Wells (P/INF), Lawson Ouellette (INF/P). Juniors — Seth Boyce (P/IF), Aiden Cudhea (IF/P), Owen Deffner (INF/P), Alden Nichols (P/OF). Sophomores — John Moore (C/OF), Nathan O’Donnell (OF/P), Ryan Pepe (INF/P), Alex Emerson (OF/P).

Newcomers: Sophomores — Eamon Deffner (OF/IF/P), Aidan Moore (OF/IF).

Analysis: The Panthers graduated just two players from last season and look to take a jump up the D-III standings this year. Senior Lawson Ouellette and junior Seth Boyce are co-captains leading a team with a good amount of varsity experience.

“We have a positive outlook on the season; we return a strong core of players who are hungry to improve upon last season,” Chaput said. “This group of players has meshed together nicely, and we’ll look for this to be a strength.”

WHITCOMB-ROCHESTER

Coach: Willy Walker (1).

Last year: 5-12, lost to South Royalton in quarterfinals.

Leagues: VPA Division IV, Central Vermont League.

Returnees: Seniors — Colby Washburn (1B), Kevin Kingsbury (C/1B/SS/P), Zach Rhoades (P/SS/C/OF), Matt Brown (P/OF/3B). Juniors — Gabriel Feeney (2B/SS/OF), Triston Irish (SS/3B/P/OF), Ty Murawski (3B/OF/C/P). Sophomore — Timber Russell (P/1B/3B/OF).

Newcomers: Seniors — Damian Young-Burbano (C/1B/OF), Keagan Hill (3B/2B/OF). Junior — Danny Abrew (3B/2B/OF/P). Eighth Grade — Bazel Russell (C/OF/3B), Connor Allen (OF/2B/3B), Jameson Roussel (OF/2B/C).

Analysis: Pitching and defense should be the hallmark of the Mountaineers this spring. Playing their final season as a co-op before school mergers this fall, a big group of players with varsity experience should have Whitcomb-Rochester competitive in virtually every game on the schedule.

“Many of these ballplayers lead by example. They are eager to do well, instruction has been taken with big ears and you can see improvements already. I expect us to finish strong because this is a hard-working group,” Walker said.

WINDSOR

Coach: Jamie Richardson (4).

Last year: 10-6, lost to Richford in the first round.

Leagues: VPA Division III, Marble Valley League.

Returnees: Seniors — Seth Balch (P/2B), Duncan Frazer (C/P), Adam Stapleton (P/1B), Dakota Page (3B/CF). Juniors — Ryland Richardson (SS/C), Robert Slocum (P/2B), Justin Smith (OF), Daniel Cardillo (2B/OF), Tyler Wright (OF), Josh Gaudette (3B/OF).

Newcomers: Seniors — Ben Meagher (1B/OF/P), Elijah Collier (3B/OF). Sophomore — Dylan Hodgdon (P/3B).

Analysis: The Yellowjackets graduated just one senior from last season and are led by an experienced and talented core. Returning pitchers Seth Balch, Robert Slocum and Adam Stapleton along with senior newcomer Ben Meagher will combine with catcher Duncan Frazer and shortstop Ryland Richardson to provide strong play up the middle.

“We have the senior leadership and experience to make some noise in both the MVL and the Vermont D-III tourney,” Richardson said. “Although it’s early, this team is a joy to coach. Most of these boys have won a lot of big games in various sports. They know what it takes daily to get it done.”

WOODSTOCK

Coach: Jason Tarleton (18).

Last year: 10-7, lost to Bellows Falls in first round.

Leagues: VPA Division II, Marble Valley League.

Returnees: Seniors — Owen Tarleton (P/3B), Andy Seiple (LF/P), Kyle Weirether (CF), Tom Carroll (OF). Junior — Matt Carlson (OF). Sophomores — Stephen Bianchi (OF/IF), Owen Spann (C/P), Anthony Hendrick (1B/OF), Sam Mitchell (SS/P).

Newcomers: Seniors — Caleb Webb (1B/P), Dylan Carnehammer (OF). Sophomores — Erik Romanczak (OF), Gage Lory (IF). Freshmen — Nick Newsome (OF), Ben Worth (OF), Chase Christiansen (P/OF).

Analysis: A healthy dose of returning varsity experience and a strong pitching staff has the Wasps looking forward to making a run in the D-II tournament. Senior Owen Tarleton will be the No. 1 starting pitcher while classmates Andy Seiple and Kyle Weirether will lead the offense. Varsity newcomer Caleb Webb will add to the pitching depth and brings another powerful bat to the lineup.

“The year’s team is looking to build on a very successful season last year,” coach Tarleton said. “This group has already managed to jell and is eager to get the games under way. They work hard at improving every facet of the game, and they expect the hard work to pay off as the season progresses.”

WOODSVILLE

Coach: Brent Cox (5).

Last year: 12-6, lost in quarterfinals.

League: NHIAA Division IV.

Returnees: Seniors — Seanon May (SS), Cooper Davidson (P), Ben Simboli (1B), Dakota Hernandez (3B), Seth Hannett (OF), Travis Stoddard (OF), Tyren Hartford (OF). Juniors — Zach Moore (P/INF), Billy Green (OF). Sophomore — Connor Maccini (INF).

Newcomers: Junior — Donny Bowman (C). Sophomores — Calvin Roy (1B/OF), Patrick Reardon-Estes (P/1B), Ricky Vinnacombe (IF). Freshmen — Brendan Walker (P/IF), Corey Bemis (IF/C).

Analysis: The Engineers boast a roster full of returning players led by senior Seanon May and junior Zach Moore. May anchors the defense up the middle at shortstop and is a big bat in the lineup. Moore will be a big part of the pitching staff and is always a tough out at the plate.

“We have the ability to use many players in different roles and can throw many different looks at teams,” Cox said. “I’m optimistic about the never-give-up attitude they bring to the table every year, and this year seems elevated in that regard.”