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2019 H.S. baseball preview

  • Lebanon's Jorgen Leuthauser scores a run during Lebanon's game with Pelham in Lebanon, N.H. on Friday, April 19, 2019. Lebanon won 14-1. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Sports Editor
Saturday, April 20, 2019

In additional to bats, balls and gloves, Vermont baseball teams will want to add a GPS to the gear bag this spring. The route to a VPA Division III state championship could well go through the Upper Valley.

It begins with defending champ Windsor, which still has plenty left in the tank after winning two titles in three years. Thetford has the athletes to succeed. Then add White River Valley, whose South Royalton foundation made three straight D-IV finals and won nearly 50 games the past three springs.

Does Hanover have enough to challenge in NHIAA D-II again? What about Lebanon, which had a rare postseason miss in 2018? Here’s a peek at what’s about to his the diamond:

HANOVER

Coach: John Grainger (4 years).

Last year: 13-6, lost to Portsmouth in semifinals.

League: NHIAA Division II.

Returnees: Seniors — Kegan Silovich (OF), Nicholas Starosta (IF), Samuel Gallimore (OF/P), Paul Tanny (IF). Juniors — Jack Loftus (C), Joey Perras (IF/P), Nolan Gantrish (IF/P).

Newcomers: Juniors — Latham Allison (OF), Blake Palmer (OF). Freshmen — Joshua Bucci (IF), Casey Graham (IF/P), Ian Hedgepeth (IF/P), Wesley Stocken (OF/P).

Analysis: After a surprise run to the D-II semifinals, the Marauders seek an encore minus seven graduates, most notably ace pitcher Moises Celaya. Joey Perras and Nolan Gantrish inherit primary pitching roles to catcher Jack Loftus, and coach John Grainger will rely on youth to fill in mound depth. “With four freshmen coming on board, one or two will start all the time, and you don’t know how they will perform,” Grainger said. “The top of the lineup is really good, and the bottom of the lineup has to prove themselves. If they can hit remotely close to the way the bottom hit last year, we’ll win a lot of games.”

HARTFORD

Coach: Jarrod Grassi (16).

Last year: 5-12, lost in quarterfinals.

Leagues: VPA Division II, Marble Valley League.

Returnees: Seniors — Nick Cameron (1B), Riley Packard (P/3B). Juniors — Kyle Hamilton (P/IF), Brent Potter (C/OF), Dakota Chapman (P/1B/OF). Sophomore — Alex Bushway (P/IF/OF).

Newcomers: Juniors — Ethan Archambeault (C/OF), Zack Butterfield (P/1B). Sophomores — Jacob Dwinnell (P/IF/OF), Cam Tucker (P/OF), Curtis Barry (P/IF/OF). Freshman — Drew Martin (C).

Analysis: The Hurricanes’ Division II reconstruction after back-to-back D-I semifinal runs in 2016-17 continues. Nick Cameron, Riley Packard and Kyle Hamilton will likely play leadership roles on a squad split down the middle between experience and fresh faces.

LEBANON

Coach: Doug Ashey (26).

Last year: 3-12, missed tournament.

League: NHIAA Division II.

Returnees: Seniors — Joey Dupree (C/1B/DH), Kyle Pelletier (P/1B/3B), Graham Ten Haken (1B/P), Jared Audette (P/1B). Juniors — Caleb Smith (P/3B/1B), Tommy Berthasavage (C/2B), Kobe Benoit (P/IF), Jon Willeman (SS/P), Cooper Bourne (OF). Sophomore — Trey Chickering (P/CF).

Newcomers: Seniors — Brian Steen (IF), Evan Minsky (mgr.), Colin Kiernan (OF). Juniors — Jorgen Leuthauser (OF/P), Joshua Roebuck (C). Sophomore — Calvin Bates (C). Freshman — Braeden Falzarano (P/OF).

Analysis: After a uncharacteristic state tournament absence, the Raiders’ fortunes are looking up. “I think the optimism is high with this group,” Lebanon coach Doug Ashey said. “I have a lot of returning kids and not a lot of pitching experience, so to say. However, we do have a lot of kids who are learning to throw. If they develop, we should get some wins in this division.”

MASCOMA

Coach: Dave Isom (2).

Last year: 2-14, missed tournament.

League: NHIAA Division III.

Returnees: Seniors — Ales Jenness (P/OF/1B), Caleb McAlister (OF/3B/P), Adidas Murphy (OF/P), Brennen Murphy (P/OF/IF), Devin Tetreault (P/1B/OF). Junior — Nate Gove (IF/P). Sophomores — Logan Briand (P/IF/C), Josh Evans (P/IF), Michael Evans (C/IF/P).

Newcomers: Seniors — Garrett Davis (IF/OF/P), Dakota Decocq (IF/OF/P), Joe Stone (1B/OF/P), Chris Robbins (C/1B). Junior — Wade Pickett (IF/C/P).

Analysis: Coach Dave Isom sees more depth on the mound and versatility in the field that he did in his debut season last spring. That’s producing competition and helping prime the Royals for an improved campaign. “If we show up and play our best every game, I think we can give a lot of teams in our division a run for their money,” Isom said. “With all of these returning players, I think they learned from last year that the game isn’t over until the final out is recorded.”

NEWPORT

Coach: Scott McNamara (1).

Last year: 10-7, lost in semifinals to eventual state champion White Mountains.

League: NHIAA Division III.

Returnees: Seniors — J.T. Blaine (OF/P), Tony Robertson (2B/1B), Daniel Lee (OF/P), Kobe Gallo (OF). Junior — Jarrod Meyette (C). Sophomores — Bryce Willey (IF/OF), Josh Sharron (OF).

Newcomers: Seniors — Joey Ackerman (IF/OF), Cole McNamara (IF/OF). Junior — Reuben Relente (OF). Sophomores — Tanner Proper (2B), Jamison Ball (3B/P). Freshman — Devin Heino (3B/P).

Analysis: After an out-of-the-blue gallop to the program’s first semifinal appearance in 25 years, Newport hits the reset button with a largely inexperienced group and a new coach. Scott McNamara takes the helm after a long stretch coaching Newport’s middle school and junior varsity squads. “We want to be competitive and a playoff-caliber team,” McNamara said. “That being said, this year we will need to spend lots of time with pitching, as all (of them) graduated last year.”

OXBOW

Coach: Shawn French (21).

Last year: 10-6, lost in quarterfinals.

League: VPA Division III, Capital League.

Returnees: Seniors — Cody Grant (P/OF), Orin Mahikoa (P/IF), Jackson Schramm (C/IF), Seth Carson (OF/IF). Juniors — Jace Page (P/IF), Trevor Moore (IF/C), Hunter Locke (P/OF), Cooper Smith (OF/IF), Harley Wescott (OF). Sophomore — Cameron Boardman (C/IF).

Newcomers: Senior — Adam Maxwell (OF). Junior — Cooper Simmons (P/IF).

Analysis: A pitching rotation of Cody Grant, Hunter Locke, Jace Page and Orin Mahikoa sets the Olympians up well to compete in most every game. Jackson Schramm’s return after missing last season with also help with the right-side infield defense. “If our offense can score enough runs,” Oxbow coach Shawn French said, “we should be in for a strong year.”

RIVENDELL

Coach: Eric Reichert (25).

Last year: 10-3, lost in semifinals.

Leagues: VPA Division IV, Central Vermont League.

Returnees: Seniors — Charlie Bradley (2B/P), Luke Streeter (1B/P), Zach Dexter (C/P). Juniors — Zach Gould (1B/CF/SS/P), Dylan Ricker (SS/P), Ryan Woodbeck (OF). Sophomore — Ty Newman (OF/1B/P).

Newcomers: Seniors — Tanner Siemons (C/OF), Isaac Martel (1B/C), Sam Suprenant (OF), Josh Eastburn (OF), Zach Kilmer (1B/P), Caleb Haley (OF). Juniors — Nolen Yyon (OF), Henry Tse (OF). Sophomores — Bailey Welch (OF), Owen Mansur (OF). Freshmen — Wyatt Underhill (C/P/3B), Garett Stever (OF).

Analysis: Ace pitcher Dash Fukushima has moved on, but last year’s successful season has netted a bumper crop of baseball bodies for the Raptors. Charlie Bradley, Luke Streeter and Zach Dexter will do the leading for a Rivendell squad with the potential to repeat a deep tournament run. “We have some outstanding returning players,” longtime Rivendell coach Eric Reichert said, “and it is nice to see a large group of seniors come together to enjoy the game of baseball for the first time in a long time.”

SHARON

Coaches: Jack Johnson and Matt Robertson (1).

Last year: 5-9, lost in first round.

Leagues: VPA Division IV, Central Vermont League.

Returnees: Seniors — Alex Olszewski (C/P). Sophomores — Ian Robertson (P/IF), Lelan Pelletier (IF/OF/P). Freshman — Blair Locke (IF).

Newcomers: Seniors — Josh King (P/LF; member-to-member from Mid Vermont Christian; played at Chelsea last year), Ronald Johnson (1B/P; transfer from Chelsea). Sophomore — Taylor Leonard (P/OF; transfer from Chelsea). Freshmen — Gus Byrne (IF/OF/P), Jamie Potter (IF/OF/P). Eighth-graders — Jack Lloyd (IF/OF/P), Caleb Benjamin (IF/OF/P), Parker Bogardus (IF/OF/P), Jacob Gilman (IF/OF/P), Jack Hogan (IF/OF/P).

Analysis: Change was bound to come for the Phoenix, which graduated eight from last year’s inaugural time and lost a ninth (Tommy Bissaillon) to a transfer. Sharon went creative, inheriting three athletes from now-shuttered Chelsea High and adding a slew of eighth-graders who have enrolled at TSA for next year, making them eligible to join the varsity now. “We do have numerous pitchers, which is a definite asset,” co-coach Jack Johnson said. “With a young team, we are hoping for improvement as the year goes on.”

STEVENS

Coach: Paul Silva (13).

Last year: 10-8, lost in Division III first round.

League: NHIAA Division II.

Returnees: Seniors — Ethan Johnson (2B/SS/OF/P), Trey Theriault (IF/P), Derrick Stanhope (CF/P), Josh Stithen (3B/P). Junior — Alex Taylor (OF/P). Sophomores — Tyler Bonneau (2B/SS/OF), Gabe Miller (IF/P), Owen Taylor (OF/1B/P).

Newcomers: Seniors — Karsten Kleyensteuber (OF/2B), Matt Szelangowski (OF), Cam Macia (C/3B), Keaghan McAllister (OF/2B), Dennis Peaslee (OF). Junior — Jarrett LaPointe (C/1B).

Analysis: Eight athletes return as a foundation for the Cardinals, who — like most of the school’s athletic programs — are making the move to Division II this spring. “Having been inside almost the whole preseason, we have been working on fundamentals both at the plate and in the field and have stressed the little things that I hope will pay off for us when we get to playing the games for real,” coach Paul Silva said. “It is tough to stay motivated inside the gym for a game that is meant to be played outside, but they came every day ready to try and get better.”

SUNAPEE

Coach: Tom Frederick (13).

Last year: 10-8, lost in quarterfinals.

League: NHIAA Division IV.

Returnees: Seniors — Lane Smith (1B/DH), Matt Nangeroni (CF/P), Gabe Hastings (P/OF), Sean Shisko (2B), Mac Cahill (P). Juniors — Quinn Fair (P/1B), Darren Hulton (P/C), Jordan Chappell (C/P/IF), Tony Borelli (OF). Sophomores — Jackson Cooney (SS), Harper Flint (IF/P), Garrett Rumrill (P/OF). Sean Moynihan (IF/OF).

Newcomers: Junior — Austin Davis (OF/P). Sophomores — Josh Heino (P/IF/OF), Drew Nichols (OF). Freshman — Drew Clifford (P/C).

Analysis: Longtime coach Tom Frederick can take solace in the notion that 45 athletes have turned out for baseball this spring between Sunapee’s high school and middle school programs. That gives the varsity Lakers a depth of pitching that few see in D-IV, and that could be a key as April’s postponed games pile up toward the back end of the schedule in late May. “It is going to take a little bit to figure out our identity, but the expectations remain the same,” Frederick said. “We want to learn more about the game, improve our skills each day and be playing our best baseball at the end of the season and during the playoff run.”

THETFORD

Coach: Phil Chaput (8).

Last year: 6-10, lost in quarterfinals.

Leagues: VPA Division III, Capital League.

Returnees: Seniors — Seth Boyce (P/C), Aiden Cudhea (IF), Alden Nichols (P/OF). Juniors — Alex Emerson (P/OF), Aidan Moore (IF/OF), Eamon Deffner (P/IF/OF), Ryan Pepe (IF/P), Nathan O'Donnell (OF/P), John Moore (C/OF/P).

Newcomers: Seniors — Jake Colby (P/IF; transfer from Chelsea), Damian Hinkle (IF). Junior — Dylan Kuban (P/IF/OF; transfer from Chelsea).

Analysis: With a roster of juniors and seniors, coach Phil Chaput has loaded up the Panthers’ schedule in preparation for a deep state tourney assault. In addition to the normally tough Capital League slate, Thetford will face off with D-III threat Windsor and D-IV power Blue Mountain. “While taxing, this will prepare us mentally and physically for the tournament,” Chaput said. “I am looking forward to seeing how this plays out.”

WHITE RIVER VALLEY

Coach: Devin Cilley (2, coached South Royalton last spring).

Last year: South Royalton 15-3, fell in Division IV state final to Danville; Whitchester 3-14, lost in D-IV first round.

Leagues: VPA Division III, Central Vermont League.

Returnees: Seniors— Jake Hewitt (P/IF), Triston Irish (IF/OF), Gabriel Feeney (OF/IF). Juniors — George Carr (OF), Timber Russell (P/IF/OF), Zebulon Perreault (C), Logan Martin (P/IF). Sophomores — Tyler Ballentine (C/IF/OF), Jacob Barry (IF), Carder Stratton (P/IF). Freshman — Weston Trombly (IF), Austin Tracy (IF/OF), Bazel Russell (C/OF), Dominic Craven (P/OF/IF), Jamesen Roussel (OF), Donovan Forcier (P/OF/IF), Arliss Spaulding (OF).

Newcomers: Senior — Fausto Vasquez (OF). Freshmen — Scott Flesch (OF), Elijah Kinsley (OF).

Analysis: The White River Valley baseball union of South Royalton and Whitcomb-Rochester carries a Royal foundation of a program that went 48-5 the last three years before the merger. Devin Cilley is one of the few SoRo coaches who stayed on at WRV, and he’ll oversee a deep, veteran squad that should challenge the top in Division III. “With a returning group of 17 kids from the two programs, WRV will have a very experienced group of varsity players this year,” Cilley said. “We look forward to a number of firsts this year with the new program, but also look to build off of the very strong foundations of the two programs that made this new one.”

WINDSOR

Coach: Jamie Richardson (5).

Last year: 15-4, state champions.

Leagues: VPA Division III, Marble Valley League.

Returnees: Seniors — Ryland Richardson (C/SS/capt.), Robert Slocum (P/1B/SS/capt.), Justin Smith (P/CF/SS/capt.), Josh Gaudette (3B/OF), Daniel Cardillo (OF/2B), Dylan Hodgdon (P/SS).

Newcomers: Senior — Gavin Harriman (3B/OF). Juniors — Max Clifford (1B/3B), William Heim Jr. (OF), Caleb Meagher (3B/OF/C), Grayson Frazer (P/1B), Rhett Barrows (2B). Sophomores — Jordan Place (2B), Cade Lockwood (3B/1B). Freshman — Ethan Belvin (C).

Analysis: If not for a shocking first-round ouster two years ago, the Yellowjackets might have entered this season as three-time defending state champs. They’ve been that good come late May and early June. Want to bet they can’t get that far again? Ryland Richardson and Robert Slocum, both with two titles under their belts, are a solid battery, and their experience and leadership will have a say in Windsor’s results. “With our tough schedule, there will be bumps in the road,” coach Jamie Richardson said, “but I expect this team to grind through the tough games, rally around each other and give everything they’ve got.”

WOODSTOCK

Coach: Jason Tarleton (19).

Last year: 8-8, lost in first round.

Leagues: VPA Division II, Marble Valley League.

Returnees: Seniors — Matt Carlson (OF), Anthony Hendrick (1B/P). Juniors — Sam Mitchell (P/SS), Owen Spann (C/P), Stephen Bianchi (2B/OF). Sophomore — Chase Christiansen (P/OF).

Newcomers: Sophomores — Tom Bissaillon (P/SS; transfer from Sharon), Ben Worth (OF/P). Freshmen — Wyatt Begin (OF/P), Memphis Begin (3B/P), Alex Rice (C/IF), Liam Harper (P/IF).

Analysis: Returning starters will be counted on to help the Wasps counter the loss of a large senior class. Sophomore Tom Bissaillon, part of Sharon’s inaugural roster last spring, should help both on the mound and in the infield.

“Our goal is to play with consistency and compete at a high level by season’s end,” coach Jason Tarleton said.

WOODSVILLE

Coach: Brent Cox (6).

Last year: 13-4, lost in first round.

League: NHIAA Division IV.

Returnees: Seniors — Zach Moore (P/IF) Donny Bowman (C), Billy Green (OF). Juniors — Patrick Reardon-Estes (1B), Ricky Vinnacombe (OF), Calvin Roy (IF). Sophomores — Corey Bemis (IF), Brendan Walker (IF/P).

Newcomers: Juniors — Stephen Aldrich (IF), Carson Ste. Marie (UT). Sophomore — Noah Titorenko (UT).

Analysis: Coach Brent Cox sees individual and team efforts as essential for the Engineers to bounce back after seeing a promising season end early in last year’s state tournament.

“I think we have the potential to be one of the top teams in the North and compete for one of the top playoff spots,” Cox said. “It will be dependent on if we can keep working hard and getting the experience in our starting lineup, as we lost six starters from last year.”

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.