Spring H.S. sports preview: Baseball

  • White River Valley’s varsity baseball team debriefs after a game against Rivendell Academy at White River Valley High School in South Royalton, Vt., on Tuesday, April 12, 2022. White River Valley won, 13-0. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News / Report For America photographs — Alex Driehaus

  • Rivendell’s Wyatt Underhill pitches during a game at White River Valley High School in South Royalton, Vt., on Tuesday, April 12, 2022. White River Valley won, 13-0. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

  • White River Valley’s Robby McShinsky rounds third base during a game against Rivendell Academy at White River Valley High School in South Royalton, Vt., on Tuesday, April 12, 2022. White River Valley won, 13-0. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

  • Rivendell Head Coach Eric Reichert talks to his players during a game at White River Valley High School in South Royalton, Vt., on Tuesday, April 12, 2022. White River Valley won, 13-0. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Alex Driehaus

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 4/27/2022 12:53:32 PM
Modified: 4/27/2022 12:52:04 PM

Last year’s pandemic-shortened season meant some Upper Valley teams played close to a full complement of games, while others played a more compressed schedule. Even still, Hanover, Hartford, Thetford and White River Valley all had outstanding regular seasons, with the Wildcats winning the VPA Division IV title and the Panthers falling just short in Division III.

Those teams and more will be looking to repeat or get a step further this year. At Hartford, Bill Vielleux replaces longtime head coach Jarrod Grassi, while Mascoma and Stevens are also introducing new bench bosses. Lebanon, Rivendell and Windsor also have plenty of returning talent and will hope to make deep playoff runs as well.

HANOVER

Coach: John Grainger (7th season).

Last year: 13-1, lost in quarterfinals to John Stark.

League: NHIAA Division II.

Returners: Mason Gantrish (OF), Trevor Pierce (OF/P), Wes Stocken (OF), Colin Pierce (IF), Casey Graham (IF), Josh Bucci (IF/P), Declan Flynn (OF), John Hill (C), Joe Davis (OF), Ian Hedgepath (2B). Junior — Sam Sacerdote (P/IF).

Newcomers: Juniors — Jack McGrath (C/OF), Ian Smith (OF). Sophomores — Jackson McBride (IF), Jake Toulmin (P), Freddie Mierke (P).

Analysis: The Bears were unbeaten in the regular season last year before an early postseason exit. But with 10 seniors, including eight starters and four all-state selections, this could be the year for Hanover to win its first state title.

“Our lineup is very deep, and on the mound we have a very deep group of pitchers,” Grainger said. “I would expect us to make a very strong playoff run.”

HARTFORD

Coach: Bill Vielleux (1st season).

Last year: 17-1, lost in semifinals to U-32.

League: VPA Division II.

Returners: Seniors — Colin Vielleux (P/IF), Drew Martin (C), Harrison Gaudet (IF), Noah Arsenault (OF). Juniors — Joey Beggs (IF), Shane Jenks (P), Trenton Bird (P/OF). Sophomores — Zach Johnson (P/IF), Nate Clark (P/OF), Sean Dunton (C).

Newcomers: Juniors — Ethan Jacobson Goodhue (OF), Tommy Mangieri (P/IF). Sophomores — Matt Hayes (P/IF), Matt Cooney (P/IF).

Analysis: The Hurricanes ran through an undefeated regular season last year, earning the top seed in the playoffs, before being upset in the semifinals. That was Hartford’s 18th and final season under Jarrod Grassi, and now Bill Vielleux has taken over. Just four starters return, but pitching, defense and speed should all be strengths, with Colin Vielleux, Zach Johnson and transfer Matt Hayes leading the way on the mound.

LEBANON

Coach: Chauncey Wood (2nd season).

Last year: 8-6, lost in quarterfinals.

League: NHIAA Division II.

Returners: Seniors — John Bieszczad (C/IF), Coleman Fabry (IF/OF), Braeden Falzarano (OF/P), Benjamin Katz (IF/P), Zachary Whitcomb (OF/1B), Sidney Wallace (OF/P). Junior — Francis Calandrella (3B/SS/P). Sophomore — Zachary Aldrich (IF/OF/P).

Newcomers: Senior — Ryan Oliveira (OF). Juniors — Dawson Bates (IF/P), Samuel Bates (C/P/OF). Sophomores — Ben Achmoody (OF), Nicholas Brill (OF), Bennett Hewett (1B/3B). Freshman — George Tafe (IF/P).

Analysis: The Raiders have plenty of veteran leadership, but with the exception of Falzarano, Lebanon’s pitching staff will be mostly new. If Wood’s team can find depth from the mound behind him, the Raiders could challenge Hanover and Souhegan at the top of the division.

“This team has been working hard and will be looking to grow each game,” Wood said. “We have a great mix of talent.”

MASCOMA

Coach: Hunter Campbell (1st season).

Last year: 0-11, lost in first round.

League: NHIAA Division III.

Returners: Senior — Allan Hammond (C/P). Junior — Zachary Thompson (P/3B). Sophomore — Cayden Marquay (P/UTL).

Newcomers: Senior — Ben Seiler (SS). Juniors — Aidan Bassett (OF), Grant Suttie (OF), Leighum Tetreault (OF). Freshmen — Bradley Bryce (OF/2B/P), Matthew Favreau (OF), Brody Goulette (1B/P), Kaden “KJ” Jatczak (OF), Ethan Lewis (3B/C/P), Andrew Prince (UTL), Michael Stevens-Aranda (OF), Jack St. Pierre (P/OF/3B), Marshall Yorke (2B).

Analysis: With a new head coach in Hunter Campbell and nine freshmen on the roster, the Royals will get a fresh start after a winless 2021 season. Zach Thompson will be the ace on the mound, while Ben Seiler, a senior who set scoring records at Mascoma in soccer and basketball, is out for his first season of high school baseball.

NEWPORT

Coach: James Blaine (2nd season).

Last year: 2-8, missed playoffs.

League: NHIAA Division III.

Returners: Seniors — Bryce Ashley (OF/P), Cameron Howard (OF), Dylon Carpenter (C/P/IF), Devyn Heino (3B/P), Jayden Conroy (CF/P/IF), Kaiden Seymour (1B/DH). Junior — Karter Pollari (P/1B/DH).

Newcomers: Senior — Luke Bartlett (OF). Juniors — Darren Janicke (IF/OF), Owen Beaulieu (IF/OF). Sophomores — Colton Godwin (C/P/IF/OF), Benjamin Almstrom (P/OF). Freshmen — Amilio Urista (C/P/IF/OF), Gabe Howe (P/IF/OF).

Analysis: The Tigers return a senior-heavy group after struggling last season. Blaine expects Colton Godwin, Amilio Urista and Gabe Howe to make immediate impacts as well.

“We will be strong defensively and average from the mound,” Blaine said. “We should make the playoffs and hopefully get through the first round.”

OXBOW

Coach: Shawn French (24th season).

Last year: 3-12, lost in first round to Hazen.

League: VPA Division III.

Returners: Seniors — Andrew Emerson (P/OF/1B), Nathan Bachus (C/1B). Junior — Chase Lund (3B/SS/P). Sophomores — Gavin Perry (1B/OF/P), Reese Illsley (2B/SS/OF/P).

Newcomers: Sophomores — George Christian, Otis Brochu. Freshmen — Chase Fischer, Ethan Davis, Owen Tayler, Alex Daigle, Zadian Walton, Garrett Danforth, Cooper Hodge.

Analysis: Last year’s team, coming off the canceled 2020 season, had just one returning player and struggled to a 3-12 record. This year’s group isn’t quite as inexperienced, but half the roster is comprised of freshmen, so the learning curve will definitely be steep for the Olympians.

RIVENDELL

Coach: Eric Reichert (28th season).

Last year: 4-6, lost in quarterfinals to Arlington.

League: VPA Division IV, Southern Vermont League.

Returners: Seniors — Garrett Stever (CF/P), Wyatt Underhill (C/SS/P). Juniors — Harry Molesworth (IF), Ashton Pierson (C), Josh Gould (1B/P). Sophomores — Parker Piper (IF/OF/P/C), Luke Avery (IF/OF), Robert McNelly (IF/OF/P). Freshmen — Rowan Halsey-Leckerling (IF/C/P), Will Knowles (IF/P), Christian Ditcheos (1B/P).

Newcomers: Seniors — Jameson Gilbert (UTL), Atheer Rashid (UTL). Juniors — Zippy Parker (UTL), Josiah Welch (UTL). Freshman — Brayden Larson (IF/OF/P).

Analysis: While still young, the Raptors have plenty of returning talent, and they’ll play a tough schedule that includes defending state champion White River Valley, Blue Mountain and Windsor, as well as a pair of Division II foes in Springfield and Woodstock.

“Our young pitchers have shown growth during this short set of practices,” Reichert said. “We’re going to need every arm we have, offensively, we need to be aggressive, swing at strikes, and understand how to use the count to our advantage.”

STEVENS

Coach: Bill Bundy (1st season).

Last year: 8-6, lost in first round.

League: NHIAA Division II.

Returners: Seniors — Zack Bundy (P/SS), Eric Pesaslee (C/OF), Sean Adams (P/OF). Juniors — Ty Theriault (P/OF/SS), Colby Shepard (C/OF), Dominic Puksta (OF/3B), Matt Becker (3B/2B), Luke Smith (C/OF). Sophomores — Cody Pellerin (P/1B), Cam Cummings (3B).

Newcomers: Juniors — Jessie Foote (OF/2B), Carson Vielguth (OF). Sophomore — Kurtis Chaloux (IF). Freshman — Matt Goss (IF).

Analysis: As one of the smallest teams in Division II, the Cardinals will face a tough schedule, but they have a strong returning core.

“They have played together since little league,” Bill Bundy said. “We will have to put the ball in play and not walk batters.”

THETFORD

Coach: Philip Chaput (10th season).

Last year: 13-4, lost in state final to Peoples.

League: VPA Division III.

Returners: Seniors — Ethan Marshia (P/IF), Mack Briglin (P/IF), Ryan Malloy (C). Juniors — Jacob Gilman (P/OF), Nolan Pepe (P/UTL). Sophomores — Justin Robinson (P/UTL), Mason Fahey (UTL), Mitchell Parkman (OF).

Newcomers: Freshmen — Boone Fahey (P/IF), Dempsey McGovern (UTL), Zander Clark (P/UTL).

Analysis: After the canceled 2020 season, the Panthers fielded a completely new team last year and made it all the way to the state championship game. Now, Thetford returns all but three members of that squad and will be looking to run it back and close the deal this time.

“We are looking to build on last year’s success,” Chaput said. “We have a strong core returning and we add some impact freshmen who will hopefully propel us to our team goal.”

WHITE RIVER VALLEY

Coach: Devin Cilley (3rd season).

Last year: 17-0, won state title.

League: VPA Division IV, Southern Vermont League.

Returners: Seniors — Dominic Craven (P/OF), Austin Tracy (IF/P), Arliss Spaulding (UTL), Weston Trombly (1B), Jamesen Roussel (OF), Mason Gauthier (OF). Junior — Robby McShinsky (P/IF). Sophomores — Finnigan Bailey (OF), Nez Sulham (OF), Maxwell Sulham (OF).

Newcomers: Seniors — Macin Gaudette (P/3B), Matthew Lincoln (OF), Cody Scott (OF). Freshmen — Braeden Russ (UTL), Donovan Craven (OF/P), Dylan Hatch (OF), Carter Colson (OF), Sonny Snelling (C), Paul Andrade (OF).

Analysis: The Wildcats have not lost a game in their school’s history. Granted, that history only spans two seasons, but 35-0 is pretty darn good. This year’s group is a senior-heavy team that returns most of the roster from last season’s state champions. A return trip to Centennial Field is in White River Valley’s sights.

“We are excited to start a new year and hope to start things off where we left them last year,” Cilley said. “We will be strong offensively again this year. The guys have been putting in a lot of hard work the past few weeks and we look forward to putting it all together in games soon.”

WINDSOR

Coach: Jamie Richardson (8th season).

Last year: 5-9, lost in quarterfinals to Thetford.

League: VPA Division III.

Returners: Seniors — Dalton Clifford (1B/P), Adam Dufour (SS/P), Ryan Connolly (2B/P), Austin Gauld (OF), Richie Young (OF). Juniors — Maison Fortin (IF/OF/P), Charles Palmer (C/3B). Sophomore — Johnathon Clark (SS/P).

Newcomers: Junior — Evan Burke (C/OF). Sophomores — Lee Bevis (IF/OF/P), Nathan Griffin (OF/P), Trevor LaGrow (IF/OF/P), Owen Roberge (IF/OF). Freshmen — Gerry Garrow (C/IF/OF), Gavin Martin (IF/OF).

Analysis: Six starters return for the Yellowjackets, who should be led by their pitching and defense. Depth could be an issue, with just 15 players on the roster, so many will play multiple positions.

“They are a hard-working bunch and very coachable,” Richardson said. “This team has the talent and with their determination, we should make some noise in June. With our tough schedule, we will take our lumps at times, but like all years, our goal is to be playing our best ball come playoff time.”

WOODSTOCK

Coach: Jason Tarleton (22nd season).

Last year: 7-8, lost in first round to Green Mountain.

League: VPA Division III.

Returners: Seniors — Alex Rice (C/P/SS), Memphis Begin (SS/3B), Wyatt Begin (P/OF), Robby Macri (CF). Sophomores — Jacob Stone (3B/OF), Jackson Martin (P/1B), Josh Hough (C/IF).

Newcomers: Senior — Chase Conway (C/OF). Juniors — Holden Larmie (OF), Nick Champine (OF), Stephen Darling (1B). Freshmen — Vincent Petrone (IF/P), Ben Runstein (IF/P).

Analysis: In their second season in Division III, the Wasps’ strength should be their defense, and they have plenty of returning experience. Tarleton expects Larmie, Conway and Petrone to make immediate impacts as well.




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